There have been many occasions where the ownership of a domain name has become the target of hostility between companies, third parties, and the hotel that believes it naturally owns it by association. The most difficult time is when a hotel or resort changes hands but no reference is made in the contract of sale as to the ownership of the Website and the domain name. The reason behind this is often quite alarming, the sellers simply don’t know and the buyers simply don’t know to ask! If you’re buying management rights, there are a few things you may need to consider.
In some instances, web companies have struck deals with hotels to build and maintain the property website. In return for a fixed fee or percentage of bookings, the company takes care of it all. Occasionally, the Management Rights buyers just get caught in a web of legal documents, costs and the stress of moving and possibly even ‘life changes’, to think about every little aspect of the sale.
Many buying into Management Rights feel they are buying into a ‘lifestyle’ but the reality is quite different to what they expected (but that’s another story!) and the fine print gets lost along the way. At the same time, many properties have no idea that they do not own their domain names until they try to move away from the current web company to swap to another or realise that the seller is taking the website with them or literally ‘turning it off’. It’s only then that they find themselves in a difficult position.
Starting from scratch is not always easy either, purchasing a Domain Name, building a Website, costs and time frames make it a stressful and time-consuming exercise. The transfer of details of a Domain name to new owners, along with possible ‘downtime’ for the property website whilst a new one is built can lead a property owner to look for the easiest and quickest option, which may or may not be the best solution for them.
When buying management rights, taking time to really understand what you are buying into is always good advice. In this day and age, your website, domain name, and your social media pages (including your Google ‘My Business’, Facebook, and Twitter accounts) are some of the most valuable assets your business has, especially when it comes to the traffic they can bring to your business. With the ever-growing online market, social media and mobile apps making it so much easier for customers to book, pay, discuss etc online, your property Website is quickly becoming prime real estate – you need to understand it and protect it.
When entering into any web marketing agreements, don’t just rely on the fine print. If you don’t already privately own your domain name, ask the provider to write in the contract, as a separate clause, that they will not transfer ownership of your domain at any stage. Understand the payment terms for the Website, will you own your site outright? or will you have control over the Customer Management system within it? Will you bear charges for every minor change you wish to make? or can you make those changes yourself? Is there Search Engine Optimisation included in the site? Google Analytics?……….
So many things to consider and so little time when buying management rights! My advice would be to use the knowledge of those already associated with the property. Can the past owners or Manager give you some help? Can the I.T. or software company related to the property for the reservations and management system help you? Sometimes the answer is right under your nose!
Check out our blog post on the pros and cons of bundling in your management rights business for more important management rights tips.
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