The travel sector is highly competitive with several resellers competing for the same purchases, making branding a key priority. Consumers need to trust the brand and clearly understand the advantages of booking with one company over another. This is where using affiliates can work wonders. Strong relationships with key affiliates can add even more legitimacy to a travel company, increase word of mouth and greatly expand the levels of reach. Making noise in the right places through affiliates can strengthen your long term positioning in a cost effective way.
2. Commission validation
Several areas within the travel sector result in low conversion, but high booking values leaving your affiliate partners relying on fewer and larger purchases. Because of this it’s important to keep on top of validating these commissions. Affiliates appreciate timely payment and transparency on how you check and approve commissions – also ensuring the likelihood for them to reinvest in promoting you.
Customers often know they want to book a holiday, flight or hotel a fairly long time before they actually plan to travel. This allows for a decent amount of time to catch their attention and encourage them to think that now is the time to splurge. Promotions with affiliates incentivising traffic can help convince them to purchase when you want them to. Using increased commission and discounts that are tactically passed to the consumer can help reinforce or counteract seasonality depending on your brand’s business strategy.
4. Engage with affiliates
Price comparison affiliates in travel tend to be specialists who are technologically savvy and highly knowledgeable of the sector. Make the effort to engage with them and offer the tools they need to feature you prominently. Providing direct access to your product feed can eliminate issues with rapid price changes and allow the best meta-search affiliates to include the relevant details.
5. Search for affiliates
Check search engine results for generic terms or phrases relating to your sector or product offering and make contact with the sites listed on the first page to gauge their interest in working on your programme. For example, if you offer summer beach holidays, Google that phrase to reveal high-traffic, high quality potential affiliates specific to you. Your affiliate network may already work with these affiliates or be able to help recruit them to your programme.
6. More attractive incentives
Many affiliate incentives that are created with the aim of increasing sales are ignored because the affiliate considers the prize on offer to be unattractive. Cash prizes of a few hundred pounds, or free iPads, have become mainstream as incentive prizes, and for larger affiliates capable of generating enough revenue to win such incentives, they are not encouraging enough to push affiliates to go above and beyond what they are doing already. Offering a holiday as a prize however is far more attractive, and as it is something advertisers in other sectors cannot easily provide, it will help give you the competitive advantage when negotiating features or coverage on larger sites.
7. Use consumer research
Travel has one of the highest amounts of consumer research prior to purchase; affiliates therefore need to incorporate as much information as possible in order to keep the consumer on their site. Affiliates need to become online travel agents and not simply brochure websites. This means they should incorporate technology in order to provide consumers with as many details as possible including product datafeeds, API’s, search creative and widgets.
8. Remember to look local
Ensure that your recruitment efforts are focused on a regional level in addition to national and/or international basis. When looking for the best sites to get featured on, look at all levels of destination specific sites. Highly targeted traffic can be sourced from regional content sites. It is therefore important to provide information to your affiliates on a local level, including the top hot spots, packages, flights, hotels etc. to provide customers with all the necessary information they need to complete their purchase.
9. Intelligent commission
Despite the high booking values, margin can be really low in travel, which means being smarter with commission structures and resources. Some travel advertisers simply cannot afford to offer high CPAs with no room for movement in order to be highly competitive. Try to be competitive on an adhoc basis by utilising incentivised traffic during slow periods. If you are unable to operate in this manner, you need to use your conversion rate to your advantage to make your programme attractive as well as making linking methods available to affiliates.
10. Exclusive discount codes
Discount codes can have a large impact to high value considered purchases and can be a powerful tool to boost sales with price savvy customers at key times. A promotional discount, however, isn’t likely to convince customers to book for a different destination etc. So it’s important for codes to be kept as generic as possible. Don’t just think of codes in terms of the call to action they offer customers - they are also a great use of content that gives affiliates a reason to shout about your brand. They can secure important placements in key campaigns that will have an effect beyond the limits of the code itself. Look to offer exclusive codes in order to gain maximum exposure for your brand and to minimise costs.
Want to learn more about performance marketing and its use within 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.