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16 Feb 2008

Dot travel continues to head down the tubes ICANN

Last year I wrote two blog entries on the dire state of Tralliance, owner of the .travel registry, which was bailed out at the last minute by a large loan from the registry's controlling shareholder, Michael Egan. Since then they've taken some decisive steps on the road to irrelevance.

Originally, they had strict rules about who was allowed to register, basically only members of a list of well known industry associations. As of December 21, they have new rules that seem to limit registrants to anyone who shows the faintest interest, with a preference to bulk registrations. (If you followed the history of .aero, the deja vú is intense.) In September, they sold their search engine for about $300K to a company controlled by Egan, stating they needed the cash to stay in business. Then, according to an SEC filing, Labigroup, another company controlled by Egan, has agreed to buy at least 25,000 .travel domains, producing over $250,000 of simulated revenue which looks an awful lot like taking money out of one pocket, waving it around, and then putting it back in one's other pocket, particularly since another SEC filing two weeks ago reveals that current owner is selling Tralliance to yet another LLC owned directly by Egan.

Earlier today I sent in an application to become one of the registrant elect, claiming that I'm in the Travel Media because I have a funky little website at The scrutiny was indeed strict and onerous, taking nearly 45 minutes until they said OK, so now my web site is also (I'm waiting for the flood of traffic due to my increased credibility.)

I also got e-mail from my personal .travel salesman, suggesting a list of other domains I would certainly want to register, including In response to my question, he said that no, they would not indemnify me for the lawsuit if I took his suggestion and sued me.

They're obviously hoping for a flood of domain speculators and squeegee domains, which will be a challenge to find at the $99 that .travel domains still cost. The point of all of the buying and selling is hard to figure out, since so much of it is just shuffling money among companies under common ownership. Is the goal to fluff up Tralliance and sell it? Do they actually think they can turn a profit?

In any event, although it was utterly predictable that .travel would fail as an actual travel domain, the switch to squeegee-hood is an interesting strategy. If it succeeds, that would portend bad things for domains in general.

posted at: 00:09 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
posted at: 00:09 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments

comments...        (Jump to the end to add your own comment)

Director of Marketing and Public Relations
As a representative of .travel, I wanted to personally address some of the information in Mr. Levine's posting from late last week.

Yes, there is an intended sale of Tralliance that is expected to take place in the second quarter of 2008. The intended sale will not result in changes to management, policies, or to Tralliance's relationship with the TTPC. We will continue to manage and promote the .travel domain name.

Under the new structure, Tralliance will operate more efficiently and cost savings generated from the transaction will allow us to allocate more dollars to the promotion of the domain.

In fact, you can witness this shift in promoting the .travel domain as we become more visible to the industry through involvement in trade association meetings and shows. At the end of this month, Tralliance with be participating in TIA's NCSTD meeting in Washington. In March, we will be speaking at ITB as well as Le Map Monde.

Secondly, I wanted to emphasize the policy changes that were established in December 2007. With the changes, any participant in the travel and hospitality industries can own a .travel domain names; however, the requirment of all .travel domain name holders is use of the domain name. Within 60 days of purchase, the .travel website must contain content relevant to the domain name.

With these two importance steps in the right direction, we look forward to sharing the continued success of the .travel movement.

(by Heidi Siefkas-Cassemiro 18 Feb 2008 08:52)

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