A few weeks ago, investor and entrepreneur Andrew Miller got
a call from a friend asking if he was interested in brokering the sale of a
domain name owned by an individual.
It wasn't an unusual call for Miller, who
frequently represents people interested in buying domain names, but he usually
declines helping individual sellers. Yet as soon as he found out the name of
the domain, he was in, and Tours.com was officially up for sale.
"That is prime real estate online," Miller said, adding that
he expects to fetch a seven-digit price.
He's no stranger to domain names changing hands. Miller has
experience as a principal, investor, founder, CEO and advisor on more than $180
million worth of domain transactions, often representing buyers. He also
founded successful businesses using the domains Creditcards.com and Insurancequotes.com, which he has since sold.
Tours.com is still held by its original owner, Maria Polk,
who registered the domain 25 years ago.
At the time, she and a business partner were exploring how
to get publications into the hands of travel agents. The price of paper "was
going sky high," and the cost of postage was also increasing, so the internet
was a natural place to turn.
Tours.com became a listing site for tour operators around
the world. Polk said it lists operators in every country except Syria and North
Korea. The site includes a newsletter and a database of 120,000 valid
According to Miller, Tours.com has 11,000 monthly visitors
and 2,100 links that have search engine optimization value.
He said the site's real value is for the Tours.com domain
name, but if a buyer were interested in the email list or the website, that
could also be on the table. Miller has been involved with other transactions of
generic domain names representing large categories, including Beer.com,
Computer.com and Chocolate.com.
Several years ago, the Internet Corporation for Assigned
Names and Numbers (ICANN) enabled an expansion of the domain name system by increasing
the number of generic top-level domains (gTLDs). TLDs are the letters that
complete an internet address, such as dot-com, dot-org and dot-edu. They can also be
either country- or region-based, which are known as country code TLDs. Those
that aren't country-based are gTLDs.
The expansion increased the number of gTLDs from 22 to more
than 1,000, including the gTLD dot-travel.
According to ICANN, the goal of the expansion was "to
enhance competition, innovation and consumer choice."
Miller does not believe the addition of new gTLDs such as
dot-travel has diluted the value of a dot-com address. On the contrary, he said, "all
it has done is strengthen the dot-com."
He believes consumers are "conditioned" to visit dot-com sites,
making them more valuable. If Tours.travel went up against Tours.com, he said,
the winner would be Tours.com.
Polk, 71, made the decision to sell the site for several
reasons, including the death of her husband two years ago and the fact that she's
been at it for 25 years now.
It's also a good time to sell a domain name, according to
"Domains are really now being recognized almost along the
line of traditional real estate, but virtual," he said. "It's a balance-sheet
asset that you can amortize over 15 years. It's resellable, not that that would
be the goal of anyone who buys [Tours.com], I would assume."
As for Polk's plans after the sale, she said, fittingly, "I'm
going to travel. I love traveling."