Choosing the Right Domain name for your Hotel

Your hotels domain name, or website address, is a hugely important piece of your online marketing strategy and presence. You need to make the right decision, and although the domain name cost is very low (typically 20 euro per year in domain registry fees), the cost of getting this decision wrong can be big – it could affect your bookings, not to mention any costs of having to re-brand all your promotional material if you do change it…

Your Hotel Name

The first part of the domain choice will relate to your hotel name, or your brand. Obviously you want your domain to represent your brand. However, if you have quite a generic hotel name, it can make this part of the task slightly frustrating. After all, if there’s another hotel with the same name as yours, chances are the domain you want will already be taken (unless you’re in another market to them, which we’ll discuss later). You can find out if your desired domain name address is available by visiting any domain registrar, such as NameCheap or GoDaddy. Just enter the URL you want, and then the prefix, and select check.

So, what do you do if you’re called “the grand hotel”… firstly, check the domain using your local-domain-extension. So if it’s in France, check “thegrandhotel.fr”, if it’s in Germany, check “thegrandhotel.de”.
In this instance, where you have an uber-common hotel name (sorry to any “the grand hotel” owners out there..) you could take things a little more location specific. Wherever you are in Europe there’s likely a Grand Hotel, so try including your City name in the web URL. So you could try “thegrandhotelparis.fr”, or “thegrandhotelbristol.co.uk”.

Which language do I use for my domain name?

Following on from the above, you may have to decide which language to use when looking at domain names. English is a very common language so you may be happy using that, but if most of your business will come from another market, eg Germany, and you’re happy to keep things that way, then it would make sense to use the German spelling for hotel, and for your location. So it could be “GasthausMunchen.de” for Guesthouse Munich. This will obviously depend on your own hotels marketing and branding. If you own a hotel and want to target more international bookings then using an English name as part of your domain would be the best option.

I want to target other markets – should I use a .com domain instead?

There are a lot of domain extensions to choose from, even on top of the local-specific extensions. Now there are domains like .hotel, but for now we wouldn’t specifically advise their use. Google has stated before that it will return the most appropriate result, ignoring the domain ending, so there shouldn’t be any SEO benefit to using one of these domains.

Another question we get asked is how can we target bookings from other markets, such as the US – should we register our domain with a .com extension to try and improve our search engine ranking / branding in the US? In this case we always recommend having the hotel domain registered on the prefix in which the hotel is located. So if your hotel is in Ireland then it should have a .ie domain extension. Registering a .com wouldn’t make much difference, and the search engines are quite intelligent when it comes to providing location-specific results when necessary.

Is there any benefit registering several domains?

There isn’t really any benefit in having multiple domain names, but often hotels will have several simply due to wanting to carry out brand protection, or from when they rebranded from another name – and there’s no harm in this being the case. If you do have several domains, just ensure that they are setup with permanent 301 redirects – which means any visitor to those sites are redirected to the main version of the site. This is the best practise for SEO, and a good user experience too. You don’t want duplicate content existing on several domains, as this is considered bad-practise and could get you penalised by Google.

The Hotel Marketers TLDR;
Keep it simple, register your hotel name with the local domain extension where your hotel is physically located.

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