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Questions to and Answers from Applicant for .travel




ICANN Questions:

ICANN is in the process of reviewing IATA's TLD Application. As outlined in the October 23, 2000 TLD Application Review Update which appears at http://www.icann.org/tlds/tld-review-update-23oct00.htm, ICANN may "gather the additional information [it] require[s] by posing specific questions to applicants in e-mail and requesting a written response."

Keeping in mind the goal to evaluate applications to operate or sponsor new TLDs in as open and transparent a manner as possible, both the questions posed by ICANN and the Applicant's responses will be publicly disclosed on the ICANN website.

Accordingly, ICANN requests your reponses to the following questions:

1. Identify and describe in detail how the IATA governence structure will be responsive to the diverse needs of a dynamic and global travel industry.

2. Identify and describe in detail the portion of "Other Direct Expenses" which are related to marketing costs?

3. IATA provides in its application that it "is ultimately accountable to its Annual General Meeting comprised of the Chief Executive Officers of 275 international airlines." Describe in detail why this fact uniquely positions IATA to "ensure the objectives and aspirations of all parts of the global travel community."

4. As defined by your application, the community to be served under the .travel TLD includes, but is not limited to: (1) scheduled airlines; (2) charter airlines; (3) airports; (4) ferries; (5) train operators; (6) bus and coach operators; (7) ground handlers; (8) catering companies; (9) car rental companies; (10) hotels and resorts; (11) bed and breakfast houses; (12) camp facility operators; (13) tourist boards/associations; (14) tourist facility operators; (15) travel guide publishers; (16) travel agents; (17) tour operators; (18) consolidators; (19) internet service providers for travel; and (20) computer reservation systems/global distribution systems. Describe in detail how parties in Nos. 4 thru 20 are represented through IATA.

IATA Responses:

1. Since filing its application on October 2nd, IATA has been in communication with the travel industry to discuss its proposal for sponsorship of the ".travel" TLD and to seek a consensus within this diverse and global industry in support of IATA's application. While approximately 100 of the 90,000 accredited/endorsed travel agents of the world have posted comments on the TLD Forum questioning the proposed governance of a ".travel" TLD, the IATA proposal has now gained the support of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), the world's largest association of travel professionals representing over 26,000 travel agent members (primarily in the US), and the Universal Federation of Travel Agents' Associations (UFTAA), the largest federation of travel agent associations worldwide representing over 48,000 travel agent members in 97 countries. Both ASTA and UFTAA are now satisfied that the governance procedures, as clarified by IATA as set forth below, are appropriately representative of, and accountable to, the diverse and dynamic travel industry. Both ASTA and UFTAA have posted their comments confirming their support for the IATA application on the ICANN TLD Comment Forum. As noted in the ASTA press release announcing its position on the IATA application, "[t]his is the first time since 1995 that agents and airlines have found grounds of mutual interest on a controversial subjectů" IATA has agreed to these clarified governance procedures and is committed to ensure that the ".travel" TLD shall incorporate them. The ICANN TLD Forum further reflects that the IATA proposal has attracted the support of a diverse array of other travel industry stakeholders from throughout the world, including consumer groups, hotels, railways, national tourism boards, aircraft manufacturers, travel publishers, and airports (see Exhibit A, attached hereto, for a non-comprehensive list of travel industry supporting comments). Thus, IATA has made every effort to ensure that its sponsorship of a ".travel" TLD is open, transparent and sufficiently flexible to be responsive to the diverse needs of the world-wide travel industry, and these efforts are being recognized by that industry through their comments to ICANN in support.

By way of addressing the question raised by ICANN more specifically, as set forth in Section C4 of the IATA application, the ".travel" TLD will be governed by a ".travel" Advisory Committee, comprised of a "broad range of representatives of members of the '.travel' stakeholder community, including specifically travel consumer groups, and travel services suppliers." In Sections C6 & C7 of the application, IATA sets forth its policies with respect to the manner in which it will represent and take input from the ".travel" community. Meetings of the Advisory Committee will be open to the public, transparent, and rotate among the different regions of the globe to promote accessibility to all members of the ".travel" constituency. As explained in Sections C4 & C6, IATA has a long history of successfully coordinating multi-stakeholder groups of this nature, including but not limited to the Y2K Project, the Simplifying Passenger Travel Interest Group, the Cargo 2000 Interest Group, and the Airline-Consumer Forum (in existence since 1985).

Based upon discussions between IATA and various stakeholder groups since the IATA application was filed, public comments on the application, and internal discussions within IATA as to the best practices that could be employed, IATA wishes to clarify how it envisages the ".travel" Advisory Board will function in governing the new TLD. Specifically, it is IATA's intention to ensure that the supreme authority over the criteria and policies for registration of a domain name in the ".travel" TLD will be accorded to the ".travel" Advisory Committee and that it function as a board. In particular, the Board will have final authority to determine the open and transparent criteria and policies for registration of a domain name in the ".travel" TLD. Thus, ultimate authority on such matters shall lie with the broad range of stakeholder representatives which will comprise the ".travel" Advisory Board, rather than the IATA Board of Governors or any other entity internal to IATA.

Because the travel industry is, indeed, "dynamic and global," it is difficult to prescribe precisely how the ".travel" Advisory Board will be structured before the granting of IATA's application and the subsequent opportunity to solicit the formal involvement of specific stakeholder representatives. Nevertheless, IATA is determined to ensure the ".travel" Advisory Board shall have substantive and efficacious participation by representatives of travel consumer groups, travel agent associations, and other segments of the travel and tourism industry, including tourist promotion boards, cruise lines, railways, car rental firms, hotels, and travel guide publishers, many of which have filed comments with ICANN in support of the IATA proposal. Both ASTA and UFTAA have agreed to serve on this Board, and IATA enthusiastically confirms that each will be accorded a seat on the Board. Although IATA considers it appropriate for international airlines, like other segments of the travel industry, to have a voice on this Board, IATA wishes to ensure that no particular segment of the travel industry, including international airlines, is empowered to control or dominate the ".travel" Advisory Board and its decisions. Accordingly, IATA would structure the Advisory Board such that no individual segment of the travel industry, including international airlines, will ever have more than a minority of the total number of seats on the Board, and no one segment, including international airlines, will have any "veto" rights over decisions approved by a majority of Board members.

Section C6 of the IATA application also references the IATA-Registrars Forum which will be created to provide input into TLD policy development, and serve as a vehicle for communication between registrars and the TLD sponsor. Given that many industry associations, representing travel agencies, hotels, car rental firms, etc., will be encouraged to become registrars for the ".travel" TLD, the IATA-Registrars Forum will provide an additional avenue for entities throughout the dynamic and global travel industry to ensure that the policies of the ".travel" TLD reflect the entire travel industry, and all of its diversity.

2. The "Other Expenses" category in the Financial Projections is a "basket" category created to cover all miscellaneous expenses as well as unforeseen expenses or those not identifiable at this time. Examples include: legal costs, additional computer hardware or software expenses, moving costs, insurance costs, etc. The amount shown represents 3% of the total cash inflow.

This percentage figure is based on our experience over many years of operating a business that involves a major element of accreditation and management of a code assignment system.

In preparing our application we chose not to use the term "marketing" as it conveyed a sense of commercialism that we did not consider appropriate. Instead, we included an expense line "Awareness and Education Support". This expense is what would traditionally be referred to as marketing costs. It covers such items as:

Advertising
Direct Marketing
Sales Representation
Public Relations
Brochure costs
Seminars/Exhibitions
Flyers/Literature
Presentations

It should be noted that we envisage to be spending for Awareness and Education Support USD 2 million in the pre-launch and the first year of the ".travel" TLD, USD 1 million in the following year, and USD 500,000 in each of the following two years on these marketing costs. In addition, registrars may wish to engage in independent marketing activities, which would be financed out of revenues earned in performing their registration and accreditation functions.

3. To begin with, it must be emphasized that while IATA is accountable to its Airline Members, as clarified in our response to Question 1 above, neither IATA nor representatives of the international airlines shall be empowered to control or dominate the ".travel" Advisory Board. Rather, the Board shall reflect the views of representatives from all sectors of the global travel community. It will thus be the ".travel" Advisory Board which shall have the ultimate charge and ability to ensure that the TLD is operated in a manner consistent with the objectives and aspirations of all parts of the global travel community.

In addition, the fact that "Air" is one of the four words in IATA's name does not mean that its interests in the travel industry lie solely with the needs and objectives of air carriers. The global travel industry today is highly integrated, with each sector dependent on the cooperation, support and success of the other sectors. While the IATA Annual General Meeting, consisting of the CEOs of airlines which together transport in excess of 95 percent of the world's scheduled international air traffic, is representative of airlines large and small from all parts of the globe, the airline industry, in turn, is fully tied into the worldwide travel and tourism industry. Consider the obvious: without the availability of the air transportation services provided by airlines, other sectors -- such as hotels, cruise lines, car rental firms, travel guide publishers, and travel agencies -- would have a vastly reduced potential customer base.

Virtually all IATA Member Airlines work closely, on a day-to-day basis, with businesses in other segments of the travel industry, because their customers require not simply point-to-point air transportation, but also a place to stay at their destination, connecting transportation by rail or car rental, package tours including sightseeing, etc. Thus, it is very much in the self-interest of the airline industry that the ".travel" TLD be managed in a way consistent with the objectives and aspirations of these complementary travel service providers, and that these other sectors of the travel and tourism industry be in a position to provide meaningful and effective input into the governance of the ".travel" TLD.

While the IATA Annual General Meeting thus has every incentive to ensure that the objectives and aspirations of all parts of the global travel community are achieved, as set forth above, it will be the independent ".travel" Advisory Board, representing the full breadth of the ".travel" constituency -- and not the IATA Annual General Meeting -- which will have final authority on the criteria and policies for registration of domain names in this TLD. The Board will unquestionably reflect all sectors of the travel industry and it will be the Board that will ensure that the objectives and aspirations of all parts of the global travel community are attained.

4. As stated in response to Question 1 above, for decision-making and advice regarding management of the ".travel" TLD, IATA will rely on the ".travel" Advisory Board, in which all of the stakeholders listed above will be invited to participate, and which shall not be controlled by either IATA or its airline members In addition, associations representing all of these segments of the travel industry will be encouraged to become registrars for the ".travel" TLD, and thus to participate in the IATA-Registrars Forum, which will be an additional vehicle for them to influence the operation of the ".travel" TLD.

Furthermore, as discussed in Section C1 of the IATA application, IATA operates a "Partnership Program" open to companies other than airlines that wish to provide input to IATA, participate in IATA meetings, and otherwise cooperate with IATA in various endeavors. As detailed in Attachment C1.C to the application, there are currently 198 non-airline companies which participate in the IATA Partnership Program, including ferry operators, train operators, ground handlers, catering companies, travel guide publishers, and computer reservations systems/global distribution systems. In addition, companies drawn from all of the other segments of the travel industry listed above are already customers of IATA in some form, including hotels, resorts and car rental companies, for which IATA developed the "Travel Industry Designator" ("TIDS") Programme; and over 90,000 travel agencies worldwide, which are accredited or endorsed by IATA and its subsidiaries.

Thus, IATA already has a substantial network of relationships in place with all the categories of parties identified in the application as likely stakeholders in the ".travel" TLD. IATA will build on these relationships, through the mechanisms described previously including in particular the ".travel" Advisory Board, to assure they play the role that is necessary in order for this TLD to be operated in a manner fully responsive to market and customer requirements.

Further, while IATA envisions that the TLD registration criteria and policy, as described in Section E17, will provide initial guidance to the ".travel" Advisory Board, the Board will rapidly develop criteria and policies that will be applicable to individual segments of the travel industry. For example, the City of Paris, wishing to have a ".travel" domain name to disseminate information about the Eiffel Tower (but without making ticket sales or otherwise engaging in e-commerce activities), will inevitably have different criteria set by the Board than a cruise line wishing to operate a ".travel" web site to accept bookings (whether from travel agents only or from the public direct) valued at thousands of dollars each. Thus, while IATA foresees that IATA accredited or endorsed travel agents as well as members of stakeholder organizations which have established their own membership criteria, will all qualify to register a ".travel" domain name, the Board will develop those specific criteria and policies that will be applicable to all of the other travel industry segments. Indeed, the ".travel" Advisory Board may well determine that the criteria for accreditation or endorsement of travel agencies by IATA and its subsidiaries are not appropriate as criteria for registration of a ".travel" domain name by other types of travel businesses. By vesting final authority over this decision with the ".travel" Advisory Board which will represent the full breadth of the diverse worldwide travel industry, IATA will ensure that the interests of all parties in the travel community to be served by the ".travel" TLD will be properly taken into account.

Finally, we note that publicly-announced support for the IATA ".travel" application has included comments from representatives of all of the stakeholders listed above. (See Exhibit A for a non-comprehensive list of the travel industries' supporting comments.) The Pacific Asia Travel Association, which represents nearly 2,000 government tourist offices, destination promotion boards, airlines, cruise lines, hotels, tour operators, travel agencies and other travel-related businesses, supports IATA's proposal to sponsor a ".travel" TLD, as does the largest travel consumer organization in Europe, the Federation of Air Transport User Representatives in Europe (FATURE). AccesRail told ICANN that "AccesRail, a rail provider, can attest to IATA showing great initiative in the development of rail services in the domain of the GDS," and that "[b]ased on this past interaction and cooperation with IATA, AccesRail believes that IATA is well-position to sponsor the '.travel' TLD." This enthusiastic support from throughout the worldwide travel industry, coupled with the representative and participatory governance process described above, will ensure that all stakeholders listed in Nos. 4 thru 20 above will be fully represented in the governance and management of the ".travel" TLD under sponsorship of IATA.

Exhibit A - Comments in Support of IATA's Application for a ".travel" TLD


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