Applicant Full Legal Name
Limited liability company
Priceline.com Bookings Acquisition Company Limited
Amsterdam 1017 CE
Applied for gTLD
Mission/Purpose of Domain Extension
Booking.com BV, a subsidiary of Priceline.com (Nasdaq:PCLN), is the No.1 online hotel reservations agency in the world, in terms of the number of online hotel room nights sold. Booking.com is dedicated to offering the best rates for all of the accommodation offered, attracting over 30 million... Read more
Booking.com BV, a subsidiary of Priceline.com (Nasdaq:PCLN), is the No.1 online hotel reservations agency in the world, in terms of the number of online hotel room nights sold. Booking.com is dedicated to offering the best rates for all of the accommodation offered, attracting over 30 million unique visitors each month via the Internet from both leisure and business markets worldwide.
Established in 1996, Booking.com BV offers competitive rates for any type of property, ranging from small independent hotels to a five star luxury. The Booking.com website is available in 41 languages and offers more than 168,000 affiliated hotels in 160 countries around the world.
Booking.com B.V. is based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and is supported internationally by offices in: Amsterdam - Athens - Auckland - Bangkok - Barcelona - Berlin - Brussels - Buenos Aires - Cambridge - Cape Town - Casablanca - Chicago - Copenhagen - Dubai - Dublin - Edinburgh - Grand Rapids - Hong Kong - Honolulu - Houston - Innsbruck - Istanbul - Kuala Lumpur - Las Palmas de Gran Canaria - Las Vegas - Lille - Lisbon - London - Loulé (PT) - Lyon - Madrid - Málaga - Mexico City - Miami - Milano - Montréal - Moscow - Munich - New York - Nice - Norwalk - Orlando - Oslo - Paris - Prague - Riga - Rome - San Francisco - São Paulo - Shanghai - Singapore - Stockholm - Sydney - Tokyo - Vancouver - Venice - Vienna - Warsaw - Zagreb - Zürich.
Through its website, www.booking.com, Booking.com has built over the years an impressive brand, with a global exposure and a truly international clientele.
According to the Applicant, the purpose of the .hotels TLD may be manifold. A few of the main purposes currently intended are:
i. Pioneer the highly recognizable .hotels gTLD in order to further support its day-to-day activities, for the benefit of the Applicant, its affiliates, including hotels and hotel chains for which Booking.com provides hotel reservation services;
ii. Provide stakeholders of the Applicant, including subsidiaries, hotel partners, affiliate partners, users, and their respective directors, officers, employees, with a recognizable and trusted identifier on the Internet, creating additional level playing fields for the hotel industry under the authority of a prominent player in the hotel reservation marketplace. Such stakeholders may include, but are not limited to:
* its subsidiaries in various countries;
* business affiliates and partners, including individual hotels and hotel chains;
* prospective and current customers; and
* directors, officers and employees of the Applicant, its subsidiaries, hotel partners or business affiliates.
iii. Provide such stakeholders with a secure and safe Internet environment that is mainly or even fully under the control of the Applicant and its subcontractors;
iv. Providing customers of Booking.com and holders of domain name registrations in the .hotels gTLD with a service that aims at putting users first;
v. Offering multilingual hotel reservation services that are directly or indirectly accessible under specific domain names registered in the .hotels gTLD, referring to, amongst others, names of hotels, geographic locations in which affiliate hotels can be found, hotel categories, etc.
This just gives an idea of how Booking.com could use .hotels in the future. In the beginning, and until further developing a detailed plan to use this new gTLD, Booking.com's intention is to implement a single registrant TLD.×
Booking.com intends to organize the registry operation for the .hotels gTLD in such a manner that it will minimize the likelihood of having multiple applications or registration requests for a particular domain name. According to the Applicant, Booking.com, this can be achieved in any of the... Read more
Booking.com intends to organize the registry operation for the .hotels gTLD in such a manner that it will minimize the likelihood of having multiple applications or registration requests for a particular domain name.
According to the Applicant, Booking.com, this can be achieved in any of the following ways, which likely needs to be further refined following ICANN's award and delegation of the .hotels gTLD to Booking.com:
i. From the Applicant's perspective, .hotels may bring a high degree of recognition and specialization to the currently existing name space. Where in most cases the specific connotation that has been initially given to the gTLDs (or even ccTLDs) has disappeared, the .hotels top-level domain is currently intended to be unambiguous as regards:
* the identity of Booking.com as the Registry Operator;
* the source of the content and services offered under the .hotels gTLD, by Booking.com and/or a third party appointed by the latter;
* the affiliation between the Registry Operator and the .hotels gTLD, as well as the domain names registered in such gTLD; and
* in term, and at the discretion of Booking.com, the affiliation between the Registry Operator and any third party that may become authorized by Booking.com to register and/or use one or more domain name registrations in the .hotels gTLD, to be delegated and/or using such domain name registrations, providing content under such domain names and/or hotel reservations services.
ii. As mentioned in the vision and mission statement above, the key reasons why Applicant is applying for .hotels include but are not limited to:
1. Operate the highly recognizable .hotels gTLD at the top-level of the DNS' hierarchy, for the benefit of the Applicant and the various stakeholders supported by the Applicant in its current day-to-day activities;
2. Safety and security; and
3. Implement measures - in the near or distant future and when more adequate tools and techniques become available - to mitigate and even avoid abuse, phishing, and even counterfeiting and piracy.
However, a further detailled plan on how the Applicant will use this gTLD has not been developed so far, which is mainly due to the short time frame between the announcement of the roll-out of the New gTLD Program, and the actual opening of the application window.
iii. The Applicant intends to implement the following policies and procedures with respect to the registration of domain names in the .hotels top-level domain:
(i) reservation and registration of domain names in the name of Booking.com. It is likely that this will be the scenario that Booking.com will put in place during the first months or even years of operation of the .hotels gTLD.
These names may include, but are not limited to:
a. descriptive names, referring to the actual day-to-day business activities of the Applicant or its Affiliates;
b. descriptive names, referring to the internal departments of the Applicant;
c. descriptive names, referring to the subsidiaries, affiliates and/or partners of the Applicant;
d. potentially also names relating to other stakeholders of Booking.com, to be determined by Booking.com following ICANN's award and delegation of the .hotels gTLD to Booking.com;
(ii) launch of the TLD: if and when implemented by the Registry Operator, this is likely going to be a gradual process, whereby selected third parties that meet certain criteria, which Booking.com will be entitled to set at its own discretion, may register domain names in the .hotels gTLD. These processes may include the following:
a. Sunrise: allow physical persons, organizations and entities that meet the eligibility requirements determined by Booking.com at that point in time to choose and, where allowed by Booking.com, to register the domain names that are identical to their trademarks. These parties are generally expected to include hotels and hotel chains, and the corresponding domain names would then include the names of hotels, hotel chains, including or excluding their geographic location;
b. Land rush and general availability: other available domain names may be registered by physical persons, organizations and entities that meet the eligibility requirements in force at that point in time to choose the domain names in accordance with the applicable terms and conditions.
Depending on the terms and conditions in force at the time of launch of the TLD, these domain names may or may not be registered in the name of the applicant for the domain name or in the name of the Registry Operator of the TLD (i.e., Booking.com). In any case, Booking.com reserves the right to impose additional and other restrictions from time to time at its sole discretion. These restrictions will be mainly inspired by the following elements and factors:
a. protecting and safeguarding the Applicant's brand and reputation;
b. the willingness to safeguard the trustworthiness of the .hotels gTLD, especially because of the fact that it will be operated by a respectable company;
c. the Applicants plan to provide users of the .hotels gTLD with a safe and secure experience; and
d. providing hotels and affiliates with a new indirect or - perhaps in the longer term - a more direct platform to promote themselves in the safe and secure .hotels online environment.
iv. Given the fact that the Applicant is a company that is established in the Netherlands, it is subject to both European and national privacy and data protection rules and practices. In particular, given the fact that the European and Dutch data protection authorities have issued strict guidelines, Booking.com will at all times be obliged to carefully consider and, where applicable, implement these policies, and this prior to and during the operation of the .hotels gTLD.
v. At this stage, Booking.com has not developed concrete and tangible plans in order to develop specific domain name registration activities in the .hotels gTLD apart from the activities described above. However, it is clear that the Applicant intends to operate the .hotels gTLD to the joint benefit of the Applicant, its affiliates, business partners and customers. In this respect, the Applicant has different ways in order to make existing and future customers, visitors and stakeholders aware of the (gradual) development of a new online environment under the .hotels TLD, including but not limited to:
a. Direct and indirect marketing and branding initiatives;
b. Internet advertising campaigns, including paid search, pay-per-click advertising, etc.;
c. Using its current on line presences, including various URLs under the Applicant's key Booking.com domain name, in order to drive Internet traffic towards domain name registrations in the .hotels gTLD, hereby promoting this new space, provide relevant content with respect to hotels and hotel reservations, and the opportunity to make such reservations by way of a secured platform;
d. Email marketing campaigns;
Operational Rules and Cost Benefits
In line with Booking.com's mission and purpose for the .hotels gTLD, it is first and foremost important for Booking.com to be able to operate the .hotels name space in a stable, secure and responsible manner, putting the interests of users first. Therefore, Booking.com will, if and when awarded the... Read more
In line with Booking.com's mission and purpose for the .hotels gTLD, it is first and foremost important for Booking.com to be able to operate the .hotels name space in a stable, secure and responsible manner, putting the interests of users first. Therefore, Booking.com will, if and when awarded the .hotels TLD by ICANN, devise clear and detailed policies and procedures to that effect.
However, considering the fact that the actual award and delegation of the .hotels gTLD to Booking.com is subject to the successful evaluation of our application, we have not yet defined in detail:
* the types of domain names that will be registered;
* who will be entitled to select which domain names will be registered
* who will be entitled to register such domain names;
* who will be entitled to use such domain names, and;
* which types of use will be allowed or recommended.
As we believe that the development and implementation of one or more business cases could likely take a couple of months or even years, we have only focused on a number of high-level characteristics of our plans in relation to the operation of the .hotels gTLD, as described above.
By all means, it is in Booking.com's self-interest to, on the one hand, make the most of this initiative, promote its own business interests together with those of its key affiliates, business partners, hotels and hotel chains, whilst mitigating risks for the brands and brand reputation of such stakeholders and reducing the (social) costs for others.
In this context, Booking.com will devise policies that encompass and comprise the following features:
At least during the initial months or even years following the delegation of the .hotels gTLD to Booking.com, this extension is likely going to be a so-called "single registrant TLD" as contemplated by ICANN in Article 4.5 of the template Registry Operator Agreement ("Transition of Registry upon Termination of Agreement"). For the avoidance of doubt, a "single registrant TLD" is a TLD where "(i) all domain name registrations in the TLD are registered to, and maintained by, Registry Operator for its own exclusive use, and (ii) Registry Operator does not sell, distribute or transfer control or use of any registrations in the TLD to any third party that is not an Affiliate of Registry Operator."
Therefore, parties who are not Booking.com or - insofar and to the extent Booking.com deems appropriate - an Affiliate within the meaning of the Registry Operator Agreement will not be entitled to register domain names in the .hotels gTLD.
Booking.com believes this to be in line with two of the main elements in its vision and mission statement, namely:
* Protecting and safeguarding the .hotels gTLD, by keeping full control over the entire operation of the .hotels registry and most if not all domain names registered therein; and
* Guaranteeing to Booking.com's key stakeholders who are interacting with Booking.com by using domain name registrations in .hotels that they are in fact interacting with the brand owner or its authorized Affiliates or business partners.
Consequently, there will be no (social) costs for non-eligible (third) parties, given the fact that they will be unable to register domain names in the .hotels gTLD in the first place.
However, even if only Booking.com will be entitled to register domain names, this does not exclude the hypothesis that disputes may arise with one or more third parties as regards domain names that are registered in the .hotels gTLD.
In order to avoid these risks, Booking.com intends to implement the following policies and processes:
First, the domain names to be registered by Booking.com could relate to the following:
* registered trademarks of Booking.com;
* names of affiliates and/or hotel partners of Booking.com;
* names of departments within Booking.com, and its subsidiaries;
Furthermore, Booking.com envisages registering a fair number of generic words that are directly or indirectly related to the day-to-day business activities and operations of Booking.com and its Affiliates.
Prior to effectively registering such domain names in the .hotels gTLD, Booking.com will require its legal department to review the list of these domain names on a regular basis in order to satisfy itself that they will not infringe the rights of third parties.
In any case, Booking.com shall claim to have a legitimate interest in these domain names, as they are merely descriptive of the activities, products or services of Booking.com. So even if one or more of these domain names would be protected by a registered trademark, held by a third party, it is likely that a claim under the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy or Uniform Rapid Suspension policy will fail.
As regards the names referred to in Specification 5 to the template Registry Operator Agreement, Booking.com will follow the processes and procedures established by ICANN and the Governmental Advisory Committee.
If Booking.com would determine, at its sole discretion, that it will gradually allow certain categories of stakeholders to register domain names in the .hotels gTLD in their own name, Booking.com will devise policies to that effect.
However, Booking.com will at all times be entitled to restrict, limit or expand, among others:
* the category or categories of stakeholders who will be entitled to register one or more domain names in the .hotels gTLD, including their criteria for qualification;
* the choice of domain name(s) registered in the .hotels gTLD by and per such eligible stakeholder (category);
* the use made by an and per eligible stakeholder of a domain name registered in the .hotels gTLD;
* the transfer of domain names registered in .hotels;
Booking.com shall reserve the right to subject the registration or use of a domain name to internal approval processes and procedures, at each and every step of the domain name life cycle.
Given the fact that Booking.com may release such available domain names post launch in a highly controlled manner, this also reduces the likelihood that two or more applicants qualify for the registration of the same domain name in the .hotels top-level domain;
As a method of last resort, and subject to the actual domain name registration policy adopted by the Registry Operator and in force at the time of registration, domain names will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
In any event, Booking.com reserves the right to change or restrict any policies, procedures and practices at any point in time, especially if it is of the opinion that, e.g. there would be a risk that the reputation of the Booking.com brand or the brands of its stakeholders would be damaged.
It could be possible that the Applicant decides to make the .hotels top-level domain available to qualifying domain name registrants at an acceptable cost to them. Furthermore, Booking.com reserves the right to bundle certain products and services, such as hotel reservation and reservation modules with the registration of domain names in the .hotels gTLD. Furthermore, Booking.com may offer additional services that intend to drive Internet traffic from URLs operated by Booking.com towards domain names registered, controlled, and/or operated by such third parties.
So, in brief:
1. The Applicant / Registry Operator may reserve, delegate and use a potentially large number of domain names that are directly or indirectly relevant to Applicant's business in its own name. Since some of these domain names could be of a descriptive nature, the chances for qualifying / eligible applicants / registrants to register such domain names after the launch will be limited;
2. The Registry Operator shall be entitled at all times to release available domain names post launch in a highly controlled manner, which also reduces the likelihood that two or more applicants qualify for the registration of the same domain name in the .hotels top-level domain;
3. As a method of last resort, and subject to the actual domain name registration policy adopted by the Registry Operator and in force at the time of registration, domain names will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, however always taking into account the rights and legitimate interests of third parties, including but not limited to trademark rights;
4. The Applicant may make the .hotels top-level domain available to qualifying domain name registrants at an acceptable cost to them, to be determined if and when the Applicant would decide at its own discretion to allow third parties to register domain names, and - as the case may be - bundle such domain name registrations with additional added-value products and services generally offered by Booking.com in the course of its ordinary business activities, like operating the so-called "Bookit button", which is a tool that can be integrated in websites, and whereby customers can make direct hotel reservations through Booking.com's secure online transaction systems;
5. If the Applicant / Registry Operator will be required to increase the fees for the registration of domain names, such increases are intended to keep pace with comparable market rates for such domain name registrations. However, the Registry Operator shall at all times be entitled to bundle the registration of domain names with other products or services offered by or on behalf of Booking.com at a fee to be set by the Registry Operator.×
Is this a Community-based TLD?
Is this a Geographic-based TLD?
Protection of Geographic Names
Given the fact that the Applicant is a hotel reservation agent, it has a vested interest in giving its visitors and clients a clear and predictable naming scheme in the .hotels gTLD. Since visitors and clients are mainly looking for hotel reservations on the basis of their geographic destination,... Read more
Given the fact that the Applicant is a hotel reservation agent, it has a vested interest in giving its visitors and clients a clear and predictable naming scheme in the .hotels gTLD. Since visitors and clients are mainly looking for hotel reservations on the basis of their geographic destination, the Applicant may indeed develop plans in order to register domain names that exclusively contain geographic names (country names, city names, names of regions, etc.).
However, if such domain names will be registered, the Applicant will do so considering the following confines:
(i) these domain names will be exclusively registered in the name of the Applicant / Registry Operator, and not in the name of a third party that is not controlled by the Applicant / Registry Operator, unless agreed upon otherwise with the authority competent for giving its consent in accordance with Specification 5 of the Registry Agreement;
(ii) where consents are required prior to the registration and use of a domain name referred to and in accordance with Specification 5 of the Registry Agreement, the Applicant will obtain such consents before actually registering, delegating and using these domain names.
In any case the registration, delegation and use of domain names corresponding to geographic names will at all times be done in the best interest of:
- the Applicant and its business as a hotel reservation agent; and
- in order to directly and indirectly promote hotel reservations, local tourism and business in the geographic locations of which the name has been registered in accordance with (i) above.×