.hotel

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Status: Proposed
Type: Generic
Category: Industry
Priority #: 241 - Radix (DotHotel Inc.)
646 - Donuts (Spring McCook, LLC)
874 - Famous Four Media
955 - Despegar Online SRL
1215 - Top Level Domain Holdings
1588 - Fegistry, LLC
1751 - HOTEL Top-Level-Domain S.a.r.l

.hotel is a proposed TLD for use by hotels and related businesses worldwide. After a Community Priority Evaluation result in June 2014, HOTEL Top-Level-Domain S.a.r. is presumably the only application for the string pending withdraws from the other applicants.

Booking.com has applied for .hotels, and Despegar Online SRL has also applied for .hoteis ("hotels" in Portuguese) and .hoteles ("hotels" in Spanish).

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 six of the seven .hotel applications, as well as the applications for .hotels, .hoteis and .hoteles. They support the 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.[1]

Current Applicant

  1. HOTEL Top-Level-Domain S.a.r.l has the support of various hotel coalitions, and features a closed registration policy.

Community Application

The applicant pool includes one community priority applicant, HOTEL Top-Level-Domain S.a.r.l. Registration would be restricted to hotels, hotel chains, hotel associations, and marketing or other representative organizations that work directly for hotels and hotel chains. The applicant is a member of 4 hotel associations, which support its application; one of CEOs of HOTEL Top-Level-Domain S.a.r.l, Johannes Lenz-Hawliczek, serves on the board of directors for the International Hotel & Restaurant Association; and the applicant has secured endorsement from the organizations to which it belongs, and other international and regional hotel associations - with 5 total letters attached to its application. The other CEO is Katrin Ohlmer.

CPE Result

In June 2014, a Community Priority Evaluation result gave the community applicant 15 out of 16 available points, thereby passing the evaluation and avoiding an auction with other applicants for the string. As the only community applicant, under ICANN rules all other applicants are now supposed to withdraw from the contention set. There is no other recourse for the non-community applicants to have the decision re-evaluated, except for broader appeal such as ICANN's Reconsideration Request and possibly other legal measures such as a lawsuit.[2]

About HOTEL Top-Level-Domain S.a.r.

A post-registration verification process will be put in place; whereby the domain can be registered but not fully implemented until the registrant is authorized as a legitimate member of the hotel community. "For evaluation purposes industry databases will be used, like hotel association databases or other electronically available databases. Within 48 hours after registration started, the registry will provide the evaluation result to the registrar.. Once reviewed the reviewer will confirm or deny the registration."[3]

HOTEL Top-Level-Domain S.a.r.l's mission is to provide a secure and credible namespace for the global hotel industry, meaning its providers, suppliers, and customers, as well as to provide products and services enhancing the efficiency and convenience of marketing and e-commerce for hotels and related organizations worldwide.[4]

.hotel is supported by the International Hotel and Restaurant Association, the largest global association of hospitality providers,[5] as well as by the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa, DesignHotels.com, the German Hotel Association (IHA), WorldHotels, FEHGRA Argentina, Corinthia Hotels International, and Der Europäische Hof Hotel Europa, among others.[6] It is also notably supported by the Hotel Consumer Protection Coalition, which counts Choice Hotels, InterContinental, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Starwood and Wyndham hotel chains among its members. This coalition has filed comments with ICANN against every other .hotel application on community grounds. They have also said they would file community objections.[7]

In December 2010, dotHOTEL selected Afilias as the DNS and registry services provider for the .hotel TLD application to be submitted to ICANN.[8]

Registration

In order to register for a .hotel domain name, one must be able to provide evidence that they fall under one of the following groups: individual hotels, hotel chains, hotel marketing organizations, hotel associations and organizations, or organizations and stakeholders principally involved in the hotel industry. Before registration becomes open to the public, registration will be made open to trademark holders within the industry, allowing them to register domains based on their intellectual property rights.

Once registration is opened, the .hotel TLD will be available at most common registrars, where hotels and other hotel community members already hold their domain portfolios. A .hotel TLD is estimated to cost €60 per year per domain name.[9]

Previous Applicants

  1. Top Level Domain Holdings Ltd., the company applied for 68 TLDs on its own behalf. This applicant submitted a Public Interest Commitment, which can be downloaded here.
  2. Radix (DotHotel Inc.), a subsidiary of the Directi Group that has applied for 31 TLDs. Somewhat restricted registration policy
  3. Fegistry, LLC (Jay Westerdal)
  4. Famous Four Media (dot Hotel Limited), the company has applied for 61 TLDs.[10] This applicant submitted a Public Interest Commitment, which can be downloaded here.
  5. Donuts (Spring McCook, LLC) - This applicant submitted a Public Interest Commitment, which can be downloaded here.
  6. Despegar Online SRL - The Hotel Consumer Protection Coalition filed a community objection against the application. as did HOTREC (Hotels, Restaurants, & Cafés in Europe).[11]

GAC Early Warnings

.hotel was one of the most targeted domains across different countries in ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC).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.[12]

France and Germany both objected to all 7 applications. The French representative notes that France is not opposed to the creation of a gTLD like .hotel, but that the string must only be linked to credible hotels that offer verifiable and legitimate services. It is noted in the warnings that France is the world's top tourist destination and the hotel industry is an important part of their economy.[13]

The German representative notes two reasons for its objections, that restricting generic terms to a single entity could harm competition, and that the applications for .hotel, .hotels, and .hoteis should be addressed as one contention set.[14]

The Australian representative and GAC Chair, Heather Dryden, warned only the application from Despegar Online SRL. 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.[15]

Radix

Radix received a GAC Early Warning as an entire applicant, where each one of its applications was flagged by the U.S. Government. This seems to be the only time a portfolio applicant had all of their applications warned. The issue does not deal with the technical capabilities or thematic content of their applications, but rather the inclusion of an email address associated with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. It seems that Radix included correspondence with this address as a recommendation with each of their applications.[16]

Donuts

Donuts replied to France´s warning to .hotel, and its similar objections for .health, .sarl, and .vin, with an impassioned defense of the validity of open registration for New gTLDs. It notes that restricting registration unfairly assumes malfeasance on the part of the registrant, that no such restrictions exist for related domains in any exisiting gTLDs or ccTLDs, and that verification and restriction would inevitably raise the price of registration significantly. They write, "We do not want to disenfranchise all users of a term by limiting its use to the most common category of usage." They go on to quote the GAC's own advice with regards to its contract with .xxx registry provider, ICM Registry, which notes that at that time the GAC was against any monitoring of TLD content given that it seems to overstep ICANN's technical mandate.[17]

References