The SNCF is not only changing domain name, it is changing one of its major brands so, as you can expect, "we're in France" and very few seem positive about this for the moment. I read a lot of critics in regard to this change of name so if such announcement does not mean much for train travellers - at least for today - it means a lot for the promotion of new gTLDs, here is why.
What does it mean for end users?
People don't like change so one can imagine what's happening when the number one train company, which has existed for generations, changes its name. If I strongly believe that the French company will be sanctioned by train travellers when the new website is announced, I also imagine the kind of question the SNCF online support will receive: "I don't understand, the website does not work anymore, I cannot order my ticket". Clients will need to adapt, and they will.
"oui.sncf" instead of "voyages.sncf"?
There is a change of Brand and "Oui.sncf" seems to be coming with an offer entitled "inOui" I see two changes here when the previous website was named www.voyages-sncf.com. Was a new name absolutely necessary? Wasn't it less confusing to innovate with a name clients could understand? I fear that there will be a little confusion but let's be optimistic: innovation remains here.
Security is highly increased for clients
Unfortunately, the SNCF clients won't be able to see it but their security, navigating on the new https://oui.sncf website (not live yet) will be highly increased. With the complete ownership of the ".sncf" domain name extension, the SNCF controls every registered domain name. When a domain name extension is open for registrations "to all", it means that anyone can register an homoglyph...
What does it mean for "new gTLDs"?
Who worries about what it means for our industry? :-)
".com" Domainers don't like new gTLDs and they like to make it known. We read a lot about how negative ".com" domainers can be about the ICANN new gTLD program. After so many months trying to understand why, there's two things that I noticed:
- Domainers are professionals of the domain name industry: they buy and resell domain names. It is important to understand that new gTLDs have flooded the market so when the offer of domain names becomes so high in such a short period of time, it means a lot more domain names available on the market. This can kill the ".com" demand: ".com" domainers' benefits.
- Domainers are not representative of users: live website owners are.
The reason why I refer to the domaining community here is that, combined to the annoyance of a change, the message sent to end users is bad to our business: our industry has a hard time promoting new domain name extensions. There is a new market where those affected by this change are the one to talk loud because they reside online all day long. When reading between the lines, this is just a matter of time. New gTLDs need time to become popular and used and not to forget that the young generation is growing up with new gTLDs.
There are plenty of methods to promote (and sell) new domain names: press releases, advertising online, on TV, paper ads, affiliation, price reductions at the Registrar, direct deals with major institutions, and I won't certainly talk about those that are not made public.
The number one communication that our industry needs is "use" and it is exactly what the SNCF is about to contribute to. The advantage that I see in the SNCF announcement is that it is going to communicate loud and this will go right into the ears of BtoB and BtoC consumers (future Registrants).
In one word; the SNCF is about to do the best "new domain names" promotion job that our industry needs. Whatever end-users say or write then, what matters is that they are trained to see new domain names.
SNCF is a major French player to help us develop our business but we need more. If the SNCF sends a strong sign to other French .BRAND new gTLD applicants, I believe that McDonald's and its .MCDONALDS and MCD new gTLDs would contribute to educate consumers too.