How Agoda got its (domain) name

After kicking off the “How they got their name” series with Yelp.com earlier this month I want to share another story that provides great insight in how some start-up companies tackle the all important naming (and domaining) process.

If you have ever traveled around Asia chances are pretty high that at some point you’ve booked accommodation through Agoda.com.

Founded in 2002 in Bangkok by Robert Rosenstein and Michael Kenny the site was acquired five years later by Priceline. The site is currently available in 37 languages and reached more than 80 million visitors in December 2014 according to Similarweb.

So where does the Agoda name and matching .com domain come from? Ahead of the WIT (web in travel) conference in 2011 CEO and co-founder Robert shared some unique insight in how they came up with the name:

Many years ago, like many search engine focused marketers, we marketed our hotel product through many different domain names that we owned or partnered with. We always wanted to build a singular brand and move away from search, and we had been looking for good name for at least a year.

Agoda was one of the names we came across that was available in multiple languages and for sale online. We liked it because it sounded a lot a lot like a slang for “I’ve got to go” as in “I got ‘Agoda’ Tokyo this weekend.

With so many different nationalities inside our business speaking English to each other with different accents, we had a good laugh about that and eventually settled on the name. It didn’t hurt that it was only five letters, relatively easy to pronounce, started with the letter A, and sounded Asian because of the similarity with Pagoda.

As with all things we do, we also tested the name with real customers and received good response. We then worked with creative talent to create a more clear brand identity. It all came together over a period of about six months and we never looked back.

I really like how the company decided to go with a brand name rather than a descriptive domain names like most of their competitors did back in those days and as someone living in Asia for the past 8 years I can assure you that the Agoda brand is as well known and popular as Expedia is in the US. I reached out to CEO Robert Rosenstein to see if he can share more details about the price the company paid for the Agoda.com domain name and will update this post if I hear anything back.

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Doron Vermaat

Doron has over a decade of professional experience in marketing and business development for technology startups in both Europe and Asia. He is the product guy behind domain name management software, Efty and in his spare time he moonlights as a domain name investor. He lives in bustling Hong Kong with his wife Fay, daughter Isla and their rescue dog Pepper.

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