TripAdvisor has released a travel industry report full of optimism for the year ahead. According to those polled in the TripAdvisor 2012 Industry Index, 58% of hoteliers think they will either be a lot more profitable (13%) or a little more profitable (45%) than last year during 2012. These figures appear to be inextricably linked to predictions of direct bookings, where 62% believe their direct bookings will either substantially increase (15%) or rise a little (47%).
While the figures can’t be viewed as a concrete forecast for the the next ten months, the confidence hotel owners seem to have in their businesses and 2012 in general cannot be taken lightly. These business owners will doubtless be looking to maximise their hotel’s capacity in order keep profit margins ticking over. Performance marketing will be one avenue they’ll be looking to take advantage of, which makes the travel sector an exciting vertical to be in if you’re an affiliate marketer.
Diving into a new performance marketing vertical can be both exciting and terrifying in equal measure for affiliates, but with enough planning you can minimise the fear factor and milk the excitement levels for all they’re worth.
Many perceive the travel industry to be overcrowded, with little room for profit of any sorts – but in fact, there are still multiple opportunities for smart affiliates to exploit. James Dunford Wood, managing director of James Media Group, believes that certain sites aren’t optimised properly for the travel industry, creating opportunities for those who can do it better. “On the content side, there are many affiliates who run 'cookie-cutter' sites that are poorly presented, and badly optimised for search and conversion,” he reveals. “So, there are still big opportunities, especially at the destination level, for affiliates to capture substantial traffic and revenues.”
Finding a niche
Rather than bettering an existing service, another route into the field is to do some research and find an unoccupied market segment to delve into. Martino Matijevic from WhichBudget.com explains more: “The industry is segmented, hence an affiliate focusing on a particular niche should find an almost limitless amount of programs to not only effectively monetise their website, but also to add content and value to their own product.”
The profit margin factor is one of the main considerations when attempting to break into any market, and even now, the travel industry can offer some excellent returns of investment. Chris Russell-Smith, UK country manager at nonstopConsulting, confirmed that the figures are very attractive. “The AOV in travel is higher than in most other sectors,” he explained, “so the travel sector offers successful affiliates a great rate of return.”
The long haul
The travel industry isn’t a flash in the pan, either: people are unlikely to tire of going on holiday, while travelling for business is a necessity for many. So, once you’ve discovered a niche, built a brand and created a user base, maintaining it will be relatively simple. Editor of Attitude Travel, Alan Lansdowne, concurs with this notion. “Being paid by performance can allow for a foundation of long-term, low-maintenance passive revenue streams, enabling the publisher to spend less time on marketing and promotions and more time on writing, research & travel assignments,” he told us. “And who doesn't want to spend more of their life travelling?” Not us, that’s for sure.
Want to immerse yourself in a wealth of affiliate knowledge aimed exclusively at the travel and leisure sector? If you do, you'll definitely want to come along to A4u's next event, Performance IN Travel & Leisure. This one-day conference takes place in London on the 13th of March and features seminars from the industry's leading brands where you'll be able to discover first-hand how to make big gains in performance marketing. Registration is now open for publishers, advertisers, networks and agencies.