The affiliate channel offers travel brands, a variety of opportunities to increase brand awareness, stand out from the competition and increase their online revenue.
When a customer is looking to book a holiday, a lot of research is put into making the decision. Consumers are exposed to a vast number of sites providing them with different pieces of information ranging from destination guides, to flight comparison sites, to hotel recommendations. For travel companies, ensuring you are capturing the customers along the decision-making process and ultimately clicking on the book now button is vital.
In this article, I am going to share four strategies travel brands should use to maximise returns in the affiliate channel.
A strong travel programme should invest in the tools that they can offer to their partners. For example, having a variety of widgets available for content partners to add to their site will allow them to show information on a specific destination. For price comparison sites having access to an API feed will allow to them integrate your inventory within their search engines. Consider having a dedicated partner tool section that provides in-depth guides and information on how to consume your API correctly. Another key area is to ensure that your website is mobile optimised, research from Deloitte states that smartphones are continuing to rise in popularity as a booking tool for travel, so having a seamless user journey from intent to purchase on mobile is crucial.
Consumers interests, particularly when it comes to planning their next holiday, is often triggered when they are shown a stunning lifestyle image, think snow and mountains, or stunning blue skies and white sand. Providing access for affiliates to these types of images will allow partners to grab the attention of potential customers; think aspirational lifestyle images. In addition, it’s important to have a range of banners, with a strong call to action, with lead prices clearly displayed. Ensure you tailor campaigns to seasonality and plan ahead on your lead messages, so partners can build specific landing pages to take advantage of the offers.
Having strong relationships with your top affiliates is key to the success of any affiliate programme. Taking the time to understand how they work and what levers you have to push in low performing periods is key. Loyalty partners often promote clients that are more popular onsite so being tactical with your placement and increasing the share of voice will help in key periods. With price comparison sites, understand where they can really push you over the line, for example, are they good at short haul or package deals? Provide them with the right information to allow them to promote the campaigns they will get the strongest response to. Finally, communicate clearly to affiliates on when they will receive commissions, for example, most companies exclude commission on taxes or hotel providers and only pay for commissions when a stay has been completed. Being clear on your guidelines will help you to build strong and lasting partnerships.
The travel space has plenty of companies that are selling similar products, or if they are online travel agents (OTA’s) like Expedia, the online customer journey is the real differentiator. Similarly, with the affiliate channel, you will want to ensure that you are keeping ahead of your competitors. Be sure to review your commission rates regularly, if the network or SaaS platforms offer to pay on product level booking, review this option and see if it will help manage your costs and allow to pay market-leading commission rates. If you are a direct seller and your inventory can also be found through OTA’s, ensure that you are offering the best rates direct.
To have a successful programme in the travel space you need to ensure that you are looking ahead and have a programme that offers better tools, competitive commission rates and more importantly ensuring a personalised approach with affiliates.
If you’d like to find out more about how our team can help you drive a better affiliate programme, get in touch today.