When Icann announced it was opening up top level domains last month the online travel industry barely blinked.
Reaction ranged from “too early to tell” to just plain “don’t know anything about it”.
Nothing is expected to happen until April 2009 and very few companies will initially purchase a domain name based on their brands.
Reports say Icann only expects to sell between 15 and 20 names and they won’t come cheap at between Euro 100,000-200,000 per purchase.
Concerns from some that the internet will fall victim to mass cyber-squatting have been dispatched by experts who claim not only that it would be too costly but also specific names will only be sold to their registered owners.
Greenlight Media strategist Iain Bruce said: “Buying a TLD will be very different to securing a standard domain name, and is unlikely to prove attractive to the casual opportunist.”
Others, such as Global Travel Market’s chief executive Dave Simmons, feel the decision puts more power in the hands of the search engines.
“Consumers will simply become more reliant upon the search engines to find sites as they will have no idea what the URL extension is,” he said.
It will be interesting to see whether the search engines make any changes to allow for a string of new TLDs.
In the longer term experts believe the change could have a number of applications.
Paul Doleman, head of search at iCrossing, said companies with a loyal customer base such as hotels and airlines could buy a TLD and provide repeat customers with a web address.
“Or, it could be someone like STA Travel who has engaged in social media.”
However, Doleman stresses that it is likely to only be large business to consumer companies that decide to buy a name because it’s also about the infrastructure that has to be in place to host a domain name service.
Despite this generic names are likely to be popular – .deals, .hotels and .holidays for example, which is likely to lead to bidding wars going forward.
According to the Icann website, the board has a few more details to iron out on the implementation plan before the application process is launched.