.hotels

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Status: Proposed
Registry Provider: Neustar
Registry: Booking.com B.V.
Registry Backend: Neustar
Type: Generic
Category: Industry
Priority #: 340 - Booking.com

.hotels is a proposed TLD in ICANN's New gTLD Program. The applicant is Booking.com.[1]

The Hotel Consumer Protection Coalition, which is made up of over 25,000 hotels in over 100 countries, including many major brands, has filed complaints against .hotels, as well as six of the seven .hotel applications, and the applications for .hoteis and .hoteles. They support the .hotel application submitted by HOTEL Top-Level-Domain S.a.r.l, and urge the Independent Objector to object to the other applications on community grounds. If this does not occur, they plan to file their own Community Objections.[2]

The application was issued a GAC Early Warning from the representative of Australia and GAC Chair, Heather Dryden. The warning system is noted as a strong recommendation on behalf of national governments to the ICANN Board that a given TLD application should be denied as it stands. Applicants are encouraged to work with objecting GAC members.[3]

The warning states that the applicant is "seeking exclusive access to a common generic string .. that relates to a broad market sector," which Ms. Dryden notes could have unintended consequences and a negative impact on competition.[4]

String Similarity

In late February 2013, the String Similarity Panel (SSP) released a ruling, which revealed that .hotels and .hoteis had been deemed too similar and were placed in a contention set. Only one TLD can go on from a contention set to implementation, the others must be withdrawn or beat in auction or otherwise negotiated away from their application. The process of the String Similarity Panel was long obscured and had been causing a great deal of confusion and anxiety within the new TLD applicant community. Other than the .hotel/hoteis contention set there was only one other created, .unicom & .unicorn. There is no official appeals process to the findings of the Panel.[5]

Appeal

Booking.com filed an IRP on ICANN in late March 2014, appealing the decision of the SSP.[6] The appeal was not based a the merits of the SSP decision, but rather challenged that the ICANN Board of Directors acted outside of its bylaws by creating the arbitrary SSP system. In early March 2015 the IRP Panel ruled in favor of ICANN, but agreed that the SSP process is flawed and ordered ICANN to pay half of the panels cost.[7]

ICANN Auction

The contention set including .hotels and .hoteis went to ICANN Auction on 18 November 2015. Booking.com won the auction with a winning bid of $2.2 million, earning them exclusive rights to the .hotels.[8]

Community Objection

The Hotel Consumer Protection Coalition filed a community objection against the application, as did HOTREC (Hotels, Restaurants & Cafés in Europe).[9]

References