Founded in 1999 by two students offering web-design services, Hostnet has grown into one of the largest and most customer-friendly hosting providers in the Netherlands. Today, they offer domain names, website hosting, a website builder, and other business services to a growing number of customers. Since 2000, they’ve used Tucows to power domain registrations and management for a large part of their business.
Here’s a snapshot of our conversation with Bas Schouten, Product Manager (Domains), Hostnet BV. We touch on Hostnet’s successful journey and how their partnership with Tucows (Enom’s parent company) has helped them create value for end-customers and capture growing business opportunities.
1. Tell us about your journey from a two-man web design company to the Hostnet of today?
In the beginning, Hostnet was selling hosting and domain names from an attic. This was back in the days when customers placed their orders via fax. Needless to say, it involved a lot of manual work. A lot has changed over the years. For one thing, orders are no longer sent via fax, but via the Hostnet webshop. Requesting and registering a domain name is now automatic. But we’ve also expanded our product offering. In addition to hosting and domain names, we’ve added solutions such as email, Microsoft Office 365, and various other Managed Services.
In 20 years we have become one of the largest and most customer-friendly hosting providers in the Netherlands. During this time, we grew to a 50-person, then 100-person company. Along the way, there have been milestones in the number of registered domains and active hosting packages we have under management.
2. What role has Tucows played in this journey?
Hostnet has been a Tucows reseller since 2000—nearly 20 years. Tucows is our valued partner in areas such as domain registration and SSL certificates. By working together with Tucows, Hostnet has been able to offer registrations under multiple top-level domains (TLDs) since 2000. Tucows also helped us effectively expand our top-level domain offering when the new TLDs became available, starting in 2014.
3. What’s your perspective on new top-level domains? How have they impacted your business, and how do your customers perceive them?
With the right marketing, new top-level domains can be the biggest opportunity (growth rate wise) at this time, which is great. I think, in general, customers like new domains, although there are many new extensions that are just too long/niche to be actively used. The beauty of new extensions such as .SITE, .ONLINE and .TECH—all of which are popular in the Netherlands—is that domains in these zones are so valuable when the more traditional options (like .NL or .COM) are already taken. This has already begun to happen to a large extent.
4. Which domain extensions do you think most resonate with the Netherlands market?
I’d say .ONLINE and .SITE are quite popular in the Netherlands. In fact, .ONLINE is currently Hostnet’s best performing new domain extension and tops the charts in terms of sales volume and growth rate. I believe that .ONLINE is the largest new extension in the Netherlands.
With the eCommerce market booming, we are also seeing a good uptake for .STORE, with live websites from our customers growing consistently on this extension.
Other than that, .NL and .COM are well-known in this region.
5. How have you taken advantage of Tucows’ promotional TLD pricing? What success or changes have you seen as a result of TLD promotions?
We have made the most of Tucows’ promotions mostly by reducing the pricing to our customers for those TLDs, in some cases paired with marketing initiatives such as Social Media posts or mentions in newsletters. In addition, some registry partners, such as Radix, consistently put forth content that has helped us keep the offers fresh and exciting for our customers. These efforts, in most cases, contributed to a significant rise in sales.
6. If you could select a few new TLDs to recommend to other companies not currently selling them, which ones would you pick and why?
My recommendations would definitely include .ONLINE, .STORE, .SITE, .SHOP and .APP. All of these are great TLDs. .ONLINE and .SITE are more generic, while the other three clearly state what they’re used for.
7. Other than pricing, what value do you think new TLDs bring to your customers?
New extensions definitely offer a lot more options to choose from and allow people to register a domain that may be unavailable under the more conventional .NL and .COM TLDs. More importantly, new domain extensions are an opportunity to state more clearly what your website or product is all about.
8. What aspects of your business are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the exceptional service we provide to our customers. We’re professionals who are reachable by phone, chat, and email most of the week and are committed to assisting our customers with any problem, as thoroughly as possible. Hostnet is definitely a customer-first business and that has significantly contributed to our growth and success over the last two decades.
This post was sponsored by Radix. Many of their TLDs, including the super popular .ONLINE, .STORE, and .TECH are on sale now through Enom. Learn more.