Response from Ron Andruff, Tralliance Corp.
Tralliance Response to .travel Wild Card Assessments Bret Fausett¹s recent of assessment of Tralliance¹s ³.museum-like² wild card is just dead wrong. If Tralliance is so focused on monetizing its search results, why, then, would we not capitalize on the cornerstone of our registry, directory.travel? The fact is .travel is a sponsored space on the Net that is designed to do one thing and one thing only: Serve its constituency. For years the community has heard me at the open forum microphone reminding the ICANN board of directors that the industry was anxious to have its own domain to enable it to improve business efficiency, access global markets, and provide for effective marketing capabilities while we waited and waited for the sTLD RFP to be released. Now, five years later, .travel has been operational for some eight months and while we can boast that almost every major brand is in the registry, there are still hundreds of thousands of place names (cities, towns, heritage and sacred site, national park and reserves) as well as travel industry SME¹s that have not yet registered. In the meantime the consumer media is picking up on the virtues of .travel and are writing stories, doing short television pieces and the like, which, in turn, is leading to people from all over the world to type in one thing or another into their browsers and put .travel behind it. The result? With only 20,000+ registrations to date, more often than not, instead of a satisfactory consumer experience (i.e., being taken to an advertising-free landing page where they would be given another opportunity to try to find what they are looking for), they get an Error 404 message! Wasn¹t the whole idea behind new TLDs to better serve Internet users? I ask you, is the .travel Registry serving the user by frustrating them (and potentially rendering the .travel space useless in their minds) or by building a registry that fulfills the needs of both travel consumers and travel industry by giving users a second chance to locate that which they are seeking? I can see Bret¹s skepticism regarding this being a money-making activity, but please, be realistic. There are two things that one should keep in mind. The first refers to directory.travel?the heart and soul of the .travel sTLD. As we have said from Day 1, directory.travel will have no advertising, no placement fees, no keywords sold. It will present search results in a uniform, unbiased manner, in random order based on the merits of the offering with all results matching the query 100%. A tall order, to be sure, but you¹ll find it in my first comments from five years ago. To become the effective and valuable tool for consumers and the industry alike that we envision, the directory needs to achieve critical mass. But, because the directory data is self-loaded (only each individual registrant can load their respective profile) and as this is a long-term migration, as noted below, the ³full-blown² directory will take time. In the meantime, however, it is obvious that we also need to provide users with the information about .travel registrants that they are seeking and we are doing so via search.travel (which pulls data from directory.travel as well as a well-known search engine). The second aspect, which Bret has identified in his blog post, is potential click-through revenue. I think that you may be confusing the promotion of Canada.travel and Utah.travel, which are presented for marketing purposes only, as click-through ads. That is absolutely not the case. We have stated both publicly and in our application that no ³broken search² will ever land on an advertising supported page of any kind. It may be that Bret truly believes that travel consumers are madly clicking on every ad they see, or it is assumes that Tralliance will garner the type of traffic that VeriSign sees, however .travel is clearly not in the same league as .com. Therefore?after a user has made the choice to proceed past the landing page?as is well-defined in our application to ICANN, any amount of money that may be earned through users clicking on well-defined sponsored links (and they clearly make their own choice to do so because of their relevancy to the query) will be virtually nothing when compared to the volumes of traffic and sums driven from such an offering in the .com space. Moreover, the simple reason that we are using the same format as Google, Yahoo and Ask.com (with sponsored links that come from our provider, not Tralliance) is because we live in a ³googlized² world and consumers expect to see the same format in our search results pages as they see on the others. Therefore, on search.travel, Tralliance is delivering search results exactly as users have come to expect with the sole difference being that any and all .travel registrants that match a particular query are displayed (in random order) on the top of the search results pages with all other matches that use a non-.travel TLD, coming after them. All in service to our constituents. In summary, in order to meet the wishes of the global travel and tourism community, we are asking ICANN to allow an end-to-end user experience in the same manner as .museum does. As our registrants go about loading their profiles into the directory?as part of the authentication and registration process (recognizing that the move from their existing domains to .travel is a migration of the global travel and tourism industry that will take years)?we will deliver users to a landing page devoid of both advertising and click-through revenue opportunities, giving them the option to continue with their research via search.travel, and soon, directory.travel. This will serve every traveler researching information on the Internet; it will serve every travel supplier that offers a matching product or service being researched by efficiently matching them to qualified buyers; and, most importantly, it will serve the long-term interests of the Internet by providing a complete end-to-end result instead of delivering users to Microsoft¹s site finder page or delivering them a fruitless Error 404 message. Thank you for allowing me to set the record straight. Ronald N. Andruff President Tralliance Corporation The .travel Registry