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Marriott: we probably won’t use .hotel

Kevin Murphy, November 3, 2011, Domain Registries

Could .hotel be the next .travel?

That’s one view that emerged from a conference organized by the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse discussing ICANN’s new generic top-level domains program earlier this week.

“We think .hotel will launch,” Elizabeth Escobar, a senior IP lawyer with the hotel chain Marriott, said during one session at What’s At Stake on Tuesday. “We will probably blanket .hotel with a slew of defensive registrations most of which, like .travel, we will never use.”

Does she have a point?

The most prominent .hotel applicant, Luxembourg-based DotHotel, is backed by the International Hotel & Restaurant Association, suggesting that the concept does enjoy some support.

.travelBut restricted gTLD have performed poorly in the past. The .travel space, which launched in 2006, is generally regarded as having failed to live up to expectations.

It’s currently a 26,000-domain gTLD, and has only ever topped 50,000 domains under management due to a desperate, experimental foray into pay-per-click speculation.

It’s barely making enough money to fulfill its financial commitments to former owner TheGlobe.com, which acquired the original registry, Tralliance, during the later stages of its own death rattle, before .travel ever had a chance to execute.

But its lackluster performance is also no doubt also a result of its restrictive registration policies, which may well be mimicked by a .hotel gTLD approved next year, and its lack of channel adoption.

Could a .hotel succeed, where .travel has (so far) failed, if leading hotel chains see it purely as a defensive play?