travel industry got its own top-level Internet domain in 2005. The
big unanswered question then was "Why do we need this?" Inquiring
minds are still asking.
Suppose an intrepid
traveler wants to do some research on the Internet about visiting
Brunei. Suppose she types in www.bruneitourism.com. What happens?
A fair amount of
information about Brunei comes up, but it's from Anthony Tours and
Travel Agency, a private company that happens to use that
To get to the site
operated by the Brunei Tourism Board, you'd have to type in www.bruneitourism.travel.
For entities like the
Brunei Tourism Board, this situation illustrates one of the
advantages of an authenticated dot-travel domain. And that is why
many travel organizations registered dot-travel Internet
But many did not.
Mississippi's Division of Tourism Development, for example, is
still at www.visitmississippi.org (and .net). And if
you happen to stumble onto www.mississippi.travel, you'll see something
the creators of the domain never envisioned.
One of the principal
justifications for the creation of the dot-travel domain was to
provide some certainty to consumers that an entity with a
dot-travel address really is what it says it is.
The key was
authentication. In fact, the only value the domain ever offered to
consumers was the promise of authenticity: "VisitFlorida.travel"
really would take you to the site of Visit Florida, not to a
fly-by-night real estate firm selling swampland to
Without a rigorous and
ongoing verification program, the "travel" suffix at the end of an
Internet address becomes just a word, with no particular value to
consumers and no function other than to enlarge the universe of
possible addresses available for sale.
At that point, there's
little reason for many industry firms to care about dot-travel,
except in the same way they care about dot-com and dot-net (i.e.,
to protect themselves from squatters, impersonators and shake-down
Some commentators have
already called the travel domain a failure, or worse. We don't
believe this story is over, but from where we sit, it appears that
the better part of a good idea has failed, leaving behind an
enterprise whose value for the industry is not so readily
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the Transportation Department in the previous century began
publishing monthly reports about airline on-time performance and
other metrics, some folks took to calling the document the airline
In that spirit we
hereby declare that the U.S. airline industry flunked
Only 64.3% of domestic
flights made it to their destinations within 15 minutes of schedule
in December, and that's about as bad as it has ever
Yes, there were winter
storms, but they don't tell the whole story. In fact, only 1.4% of
the delayed flights were attributed to "extreme weather." Nearly a
third were deemed to be within the air carriers' control, and about
an equal number were blamed on air traffic control.
Whatever the cause, the
airlines clearly flunked, but so did the entire airline/airport/air
traffic control system.
We appreciate the
complexity of that system; it has to move a million passengers a
day, safely. But it can't inconvenience a third of them in the
process, even in winter.