6 years ago

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?

NB: Image via Shutterstock.

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About the Writer :: Troy Thompson

Troy Thompson, a contributing Node to Tnooz, is an artist, consultant, and speaker who found a way to combine all three into creative leadership workshops.

He is the founder of Pattern, a strategy and service design consultancy. Troy believes in customer-centric innovation, simplicity, and short bios.



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  1. Ashwin Kamlani

    Sometimes when we get into these discussions about domains, we tend to forget to put ourselves in the shoes of the consumer. To me, the most important question here is this: Would a consumer be more inclined to visit/transact with a website that rests on a domain name that has .london at the end instead of .com? Would they even notice?? Even today I hear people say… “you mean so-and-so.travel.com?” So… while it may seem sexy to own a TLD for .london, unless it has some kind of positive effect on the consumer I don’t think anyone should spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase it, nor do I see any members being interested in buying them from a DMO. Great post though Troy, and an interesting idea. I just don’t see it being a revenue generator for DMOs.

    • Troy Thompson

      Hey Ashwin,

      Thanks for the comment.

      Agreed, I really don’t see the custom TLD being useful for the consumer, unlike the brain trust at ICANN. That said, with the process already in motion there will be some pressure on large cities to own their respective extension.

      Perhaps just owning and protecting the name is enough.

      – Troy

    • Alfan @ Voucher Hotel

      Now as the gTLD is getting nearer, among the domain name professionals there seems to be near consensus that the new domain names will end up being obscure and pushing the dominance of .com even further. For .london , people will probably go to london.com instead.

      • Troy Thompson

        Hi Alfan,

        Thanks for the comment.

        Good point. 1 year later and the relative demand for these gTLDs seems low. Sure, a lot of companies and speculators have jumped a few hundred claims, but I would agree…I don’t think .com is going anywhere.

        – Troy

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  4. Frederic Gonzalo

    Great post, yet again Troy! And on Tnooz no less… 😉

    Question for you: How can DMOs and CVBs prevent fraudulent intents from folks who could highjack a domain name? The obvious answer would be to buy the domain names, which represents other costs for destination, not necessarily added revenues. Are there other ways to prevent this?

    For example, let’s say London had no intention whatsoever to use the .london name, but someone decided to get it around the time of an important event (gee, like the Olympics, for example), does ICANN have processes in place to prevent such occurence?

    I guess it was the same thinking that was behind .travel or .xxx which, to my knowledge, have had no impact so far, except to dole out more money for destinations and companies that wish to protect fraudulent intents.

    Curious to hear your thoughts on this one. Cheers from .Quebec

    • Troy Thompson

      Hi Frederic,

      I know, my appearances here are far too infrequent.

      As for the fraud issue, ICANN has two solutions: 1) the $185,000 price tag and 2) a copyright review process.

      While the overall cost of the ‘custom’ TLD should prevent any random attempts at domain profiteering, there is the outside chance that someone (with resources) wants .london. And here is where is gets tricky.

      For major brands, let’s say Delta Airlines and Delta Faucets, who both want the same domain (.delta), they go to an arbitration meeting and if all else fails, a winner-take-all auction process. So, whoever has the most cash wins.

      But, for something more generic, say .london, .tourism or .ski, we just don’t know. ICANN is encouraging parties to ‘work it out’, but without a firm position or rules, it could get ugly.

      So, unlike .travel, the fraudulent attempts on a brand domain should be low, but just one attempt could be costly.

      – Troy


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