How Travel Brands are Using Affiliate Marketing to Grow
The affiliate channel is well-positioned to support travel brands in driving growth online.
Many travel brands are using the affiliate marketing channel to reach new customers, achieve company KPIs, and support customer retention.
In this article I will share the top affiliate marketing strategies travel brands can use to unlock growth.
Agile affiliate marketing strategies
Consumer travel demands and preferences continually change; brands need to adapt and shift strategies quickly and efficiently. The affiliate channel is flexible and dynamic and allows brands to quickly pivot strategies and target consumers according to their preferences.
Here are some examples of affiliate marketing strategies our travel clients are using to meet changing consumer preferences:
- Flexible budgeting: Being flexible with your budgets will allow you to spend in the most successful areas. For example, if you cover multiple regions, consider being flexible on regional budgets according to travel trends, allowing you to monetize the best performing market or destination.
- Tactical commission reviews: Reviewing your commission structure can be a great way to incentivize partners and gain additional exposure. Consider offering commission increases to incentivize inactive partners or offer new partners a commission incentive for their first month of partnership.
- Flexible policies: Since the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for flexible booking policies has soared. Travel brands with flexible policies can utilize content partners to raise awareness of the brand, highlight safety measures and new policies, and provide consumers with opportunities to investigate offers/packages that they may not have been aware of.
- Destination specific campaigns: As consumer preferences shift, be sure to update partners on destination-specific promotions and offerings. For example, in summer 2021, there was a high demand for UK coastal holidays; one of our travel clients utilized the affiliate channel to promote their coastal holidays and experiences, seeing a 98% M/M increase in revenue for top partners.
Seasonal affiliate marketing promotions
Tying your promotions to seasonal campaigns is a great way to gain brand awareness and engage with consumers. For any seasonal event, be sure to book placements in advance to secure the most relevant opportunities.
To see a full list of seasonal events to target across the globe, you can download our global guide to holidays and observances.
Invest in your existing affiliate partners
The affiliate channel is all about relationships, and it is crucial to stay connected and close to your partners. Here are a few strategies to prepare:
- Nurture your partnerships: Take time to nurture your partnerships. Spend time engaging with your existing partners, focusing on inactive ones, scheduling informal catch-up calls, sending out newsletters and discussing collaboration opportunities.
- Regular communication: Establish a regular communication cadence with your partners. Partner newsletters can be a great way to regularly engage with partners by sharing information on the latest offers, brand updates, seasonal campaigns and new creatives.
- Transparency: With travel still uncertain, it is essential to be transparent with your partners. Provide regular information on cancellation policies, COVID restrictions and booking terms and conditions.
- Share your strategy: Take the time to discuss affiliate marketing strategy with partners.
- Share data: As consumer travel preferences continually shift, it is important to share data regularly with your partners. Keep them updated on popular locations with the most availability and any changes in restrictions so partners can tweak their promotions strategically to lead to the best possible performance.
Work with affiliate partners to target specific audiences
Consumer’s travel preferences and needs vary widely. The affiliate channel allows brands to access a wide range of partner types to target different consumers. Working strategically with different partners to promote specific product offerings or campaigns is a great way to reach different consumer groups effectively.
- Parent bloggers would be an excellent choice to promote family breaks.
- Voucher and loyalty partners can share offers or discounts with highly engaged audiences.
- Geo-targeting technology can be used to target consumers in specific locations, i.e., “Hotels in London” or “Hotels in New York.”
- Micro-influencers and content sites can review travel services to raise awareness of your brand when a consumer is initially researching their trip.
To see a full list of affiliate partners, download our ultimate guide to affiliate partnerships.
Grow your travel affiliate program with new partners
Affiliate recruitment is key to long-term program growth. Your customers have a broad range of tastes, and to target them effectively, you should engage with as many different partners as possible. Testing innovative and “out-of-the-box” partners is a great way to increase reach and engage with new audiences. These could include podcast platforms, display partners and brand to brand partnership opportunities.
If Acceleration Partners knows your goals, we can tailor a partner mix to achieve them. For example, one of our clients wanted to accelerate program growth through new partners, so our partner development team focused on a targeted recruitment campaign. Focusing on recruiting and optimizing these new partners resulted in a 205% M/M growth in sales, and the affiliate channel is now one of their best performing digital channels.