If your domain name expires
With Net-based advertising becoming more mainstream, many of you either have purchased or have considered purchasing your own domain name for your website. A domain name is a custom web address such as www.victorianhouse.com, www.ontariobb.ca, etc. Domain names are easy for your guests to remember when they want to visit your site again, and give your B&B a professional marketing touch on your printed advertising such as business cards and tourism directories.
Despite the advantages of having your own domain, there may come a time when you choose to let it expire, such as a change of your B&B name (making the domain incompatible) or a decision to go out of business entirely. Normally the domain can expire without incident, but there's another possibility: it can be bought by a third party monitoring recently expired domains and put to a less than honorable use, such as advertising adult websites.
This is a problem on the rise, one that's almost as bad as the spam phenomenon. Someone trying to visit your old site (and unaware that you no longer own/control the domain) can be confronted with a pornography or casino web page. Although this is not your fault, such an incident can reflect negatively on your business.
So what can you do about it? A few things.
If you are still in business:
- Contact every web listings service that you subscribe to, such as BBCanada, and request removal of all instances of the domain. BBDug allows you to take off outside web links yourself.
- If you are advertising in a tourism guide or local paper, make sure that your latest ad does not include the domain.
- Many B&B owners have an online mailing list to keep previous and prospective guests up to date on current specials, weekend packages, etc. Advising all your list subscribers that your old domain name is no longer valid can prevent future embarrassment. If you have a guestbook that people sign upon arrival, you can also do a small mail-out.
If you are planning to cease operations, you can still do a general mailout, either print or online, to advise past guests that you will no longer be doing Bed and Breakfast and that your site will be going offline.
There's no way to prevent the hijacking of an expired domain name, but with careful planning and action, you can minimize the negative impact.
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