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Username: airlaw
Date/Time: Thu, October 26, 2000 at 12:45 AM GMT
Browser: Microsoft Internet Explorer V5.5 using Windows 98
Score: 5
Subject: IATA's proposal make good sense


This comment is filed in support of the IATA proposal to sponsor a ".travel" Top Level Domain.

I congratulate IATA on its leadership and vision and strongly support the IATA application for sponsorship of the ".travel" Top Level Domain.

Perhaps the best way to judge a candidate to manage a new TLD is to look at its track record in related areas.    More than any other organization, IATA has long taken a leadership role within the travel industry, setting standards for the industry, while also managing successfully many systems which are critical to the success of the travel industry .  More than any trade group in any other industry, IATA has shown creativity and responsiveness to the needs of both providers and users in its sector.  Its initiatives have benefitted travel agencies, the traveling public and its member airlines.  

For example, the BSP system which IATA invented allows travel agencies all over the world to report sales and remit payment through a simplified, global system.  Travel agents whom I represent say that their lives would be considerably more difficult if they still had to operate under the pre-BSP system.

IATA has also benefitted consumers by promulgating "best practices" for its member airlines in order to lead the way in rendering better service.  IATA's safety initiatives are universally seen to have saved thousands of passenger lives.

IATA brings an additional skill to the table:  it has developed a diplomatic sophistication that no organization seeking to manage this TLD in future will be able to match.  When war breaks out, IATA has the delicate job of interfacing with hostile powers on both sides of the conflict to resolve certain issues surrounding airspace usage both during and after the conflict.  IATA regularly negotiates with governments on a broad array of other issues.   The .travel TLD will be used by competing interests from multiple nationalities, industry sectors, and interest groups.   Many delicate issues will confront the administrator [as ICANN can well attest from its past experience].  Who better suited for the job than an organization well-practiced at dealing with a delicate balancing act and competing interests.

Travel is the largest sector of e-commerce, and online travel often suffers from the same sharp [or outright fraudulent] business practices by travel vendors as are seen in the offline world [as well as from some new ones].    IATA has focused its attention on the web and the travel industry and has identified a clear requirement to validate website operators trading in travel.

To address this need, IATA is requesting a travel-industry Top Level Domain for the purpose of setting transparent and objective quality standards.  Potential ".travel" website operators will be screened to assure compliance with criteria relevant to the conduct of e-commerce.  The ".travel" mark of quality given to associated businesses will increase confidence and convenience to Internet users.  This initiative will benefit businesses, consumers, as well as the broader Internet community.
Travel agencies should not fear this new objective and transparent criteria -- it will benefit them over the long run.  IATA has shown in the past its ability to administer a similar accreditation policy fairly and with an even hand with its travel agent accreditation program.  Past practices are a better predictor of future behavior that is mere speculation.

For years IATA has served as a neutral, trusted intermediary for the air travel industry, enabling airlines to efficiently meet the needs of their customers. When airlines have disagreed about how best to address a problem, IATA has acted neutrally in the best interests of all stakeholders in the areas of standard-setting, travel agent accreditation, assignment of airline/airport codes, etc. IATA is ideally positioned to perform the screening and verification functions which lie at the heart of the proposal and which are notably absent from today's ".com" environment.

Let's drill down a little deeper than the politics and suspicions, and look at the track record of IATA.  That speaks much more loudly than any other factor.

I strongly urge ICANN to grant the IATA application. This will allow the full potential of e-commerce travel and of this innovative concept to come to fruition.


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