Could new top level domains provide funding for tourism organisations?
As we enter a brave new world of top-level domain names (TLDs), brought upon by the recent approval and registration process from ICANN, what are the opportunities for DMOs and CVBs?
The new TLD rules, which officially went into effect last week, means that brands or entrepreneurs with a couple hundred thousand in revenue laying around, can now register new domain names.
So, brands such as Marriott, could register, own and use .marriott. As in Stay.marriott, London.marriott or jobs.marriott.
And for one major European destination, the prospect of owning the corresponding TLD could open up a variety of new opportunities.
London, and specifically the promotional agency for the city, London & Partners, has expressed direct interest in purchasing the .london extension.
While the first inclination is to simply buy and protect the aforementioned .london extension, how could London & Partners…the organization tasked with attracting visitors to the English capital use this new domain to generate revenue?
Now, before we go any further, for the record, I do not like, approve or endorse this expansion of the TLDs. I, like many others, see it as a pointless exercise to fill the pockets of ICANN.
But, I also know that it is going to happen.
Back to the funding idea.
So, London & Partners is sitting on this new domain extension. They could always use some additional funds. Plus, like most DMOs, they need a new strategy to help them re-establish authority with stakeholders and visitors.
Considering those factors, why not extend .London domain names to all VisitLondon members?
For a fee, of course.
The theory goes that a .london address would immediately signal an official site, certified by London & Partners. For example Savoy.London or Arsenal.London. (Just for my editor )
Plus, for a city as large as London, it could mean a fairly significant boost to the tourism budget.
Now, would other civic organizations want a piece of that new domain pie? Sure. And again, are new TLDs a bad idea? Absolutely.
But for DMOs, many of whom struggle to maintain funding (with or without a poor economy), alternative funding sources are becoming increasingly required to sustain tourism promotion.
Could this TLD funding model work for cities such as London, Sydney or Berlin? In theory, yes.
Of course, in theory, .travel should have been a success. Remind me, how is that going?
Troy Thompson, a contributing Node to Tnooz, is a self-described technopologist, a respected blogger, consultant and thought-leader in the tourism/travel marketing industry.
Owner and consultant at Travel 2.0 Consulting, Troy has been providing unique interactive and marketing solutions to a variety of clients for more than a decade.