January and February saw the 2015 travel peak with summer holidays rapidly being planned and booked. In this highly competitive market, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. So how can you make the best of your affiliate channel to push those last remaining seats or rooms and increase your overall sales?

Travel brands have vast product inventories; users can choose from 1000’s of destinations, flights, holidays and more. In addition to this, each booking is different, with its specific dates, itineraries, number of travellers, options and services. So how do travel brands report on their affiliate programme at a granular level in this complex environment? The secret is product level tracking.

Product level tracking gives comprehensive visibility on your performance, so that you can gain full insight into the product data from each purchase and the individual characteristics of each of these items.  This enables you to action marketing strategies at a product level, drilling down to individual rooms, routes and rates.

Here are three steps to successful online travel marketing using product level tracking:

Product segmenting

For travel brands product level tracking provides a wealth of information that can be used to conduct strategies at a granular level.  What does your programme need to achieve? The answer to this question will determine the type and amount of data to extract and utilise. You can fine-tune your marketing using a multitude of variables ; anything you want to report on product wise is possible as long as it is data your site supports, from destination and demographic to deals and dates.

One way to get the best from product level tracking is by segmenting the data so that the areas you want to push are easier to monitor. For example segmenting by route enables airlines to identify the flights that perform well and those that need an extra push.  Once you have established the areas that you want to grow you can then adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.

Mapping out the publisher base

With product level tracking you can analyse the value of each publisher you work with. Which publishers sell your high-margin guided-tours the most? Or which publisher category should you focus on to sell your last remaining seats on struggling flights? These are questions that you can now answer and in turn map out your publisher base in line with wider business goals.

Using this visibility, you can then help publishers to capitalise on their strengths. Sharing the insight that you have would be the first step – there’s nothing more helpful for a publisher than to know where they are driving sales, so that they can adapt the way they advertise in line with their audience’s interest and the products that you want to push.

Tailoring strategy and clever use of budget

Segmenting products and mapping our your publisher base, whether you’re looking to push certain hotels that often have spare rooms or market your new premium flight offering, means that you can create a targeted online strategy.

Next you can start to tailor the commission to each publisher and product. For example if you want to push a struggling flight route, why not incentivise publishers to push this by increasing their commission or offering additional incentives for this specific route?

Having that granular insight also permits you to react quickly and capitalise on any unforeseen changes in the business or wider market. With the knowledge of which publishers promote each of your products effectively, you can utilise partners to sell off inventory rapidly or mitigate unforeseen market fluctuations.

Finally, drilling down to the product level means you can now adjust your budget spend across your programme. For instance you could gain from reducing commission on your top selling products as they sell well by themselves. Conversely you might gain from increasing your commission on products that you want to push but are more difficult to sell. If certain planes often fly with empty seats this represents a loss for your company; so you could fill more seats by increasing the commission on these distressed routes.

Now you’ve done the legwork, your strategy is on track to deliver higher returns than ever. You’ll be amazed at the wealth of information your website holds, once you know where to look. With regular tweaks and fine-tuning working with your affiliate programme at this granular level will give you the edge in this competitive market.