Travel affiliate programmes offer an excellent opportunity to generate income online. In this market, there are many partner programmes with different options, so choosing one might be a little difficult.

While deciding, consider the conversion rate, available tools, and the quality of the products offered to your visitors. To get an affiliate link from a profitable programme, you can refer to numerous affiliate networks which offer a wide range of tools, the highest conversion rate, and a detailed database. 

However, a webmaster can get additional profit by working with local players like transfer and taxi services, local tour guides, exchange offices, and so on. To help with this, we’ve put together some information on the advantages and disadvantages of local services compared to big players. 

Why choose local programmes over big brands?

One of the main advantages of cooperating with local brands is the personal approach. You can get to know the owners and their guides, and therefore receive news and deals faster. In addition, small brands generally have an active team of bloggers consisting of three to five individuals. So, they value each of them more, compared to large affiliate programmes, which deal with thousands of people at a time.

Local services also care more about delivering high-quality products and choosing the right guide. Usually, all guides are thoroughly tested before their names are put on the platform. Thus, when recommending them with your affiliate links, you can feel much more confident that the client will be satisfied with the local professional guide, who knows all the best locations. Remember that poor-quality products will not bring you revenue even if the earning rate is high. Simply put, local websites have more interesting and unique routes, good locations, and travel experiences that help broaden the geography. If there is anything new, the tourist will be the first to know about it.

Another benefit of local affiliate programmes is that they have strict moderation, and the quality of providers is higher. Unqualified and average guides are usually quickly removed from the website’s database. Speaking of the local guides, you might personally know the main ones and seek guidance from them on new partners you haven’t worked with yet. In most cases, you can rely on their honest feedback and choose the right ones to collaborate with. They can advise you on who has the best historical knowledge and interesting tours for your audience. In contrast, many big international brands, in order to lower costs, cooperate with average local guides and agencies. This may reflect poorly on the image of your website and shake your audience’s confidence. 

Locals generally respond faster to the market’s change and inform their affiliate partners immediately if a sight-seeing place is closed for repair or if prices vary depending on the season. 

From experience, large travel companies constantly change their interface and will even close specific partnership programmes (like Airbnb did). That means you might need to re-write instructions or make significant changes to your website. Of course, a local website may close too, but I haven’t encountered this yet.

In general, working with local brands is less competitive. With that being said, big players partner with many bloggers and have already gained their reputation among tourists in different countries. However, people know less about local companies. 

At the end of the day, it comes down to good content, helpful hints, and better sales if the approach is right. 

Disadvantages of local services 

It’s clear that not all local websites’ offerings are suitable enough, however. Some even get it all wrong: terrible quality, deception, and inadequate prices. So, it’s pleasant to work with local agencies, but it takes time and money to find outstanding ones. Moreover, you have to check all of them personally. Big brands at least have a reputation, and affiliates can start working with them quickly.

Any country has hundreds of local tourist agencies to choose from. If your aim is to find a profitable option, you have to sort through them until you find ones that meet three criteria: high quality, the ability to provide an excellent service for a big audience, and partnership programme availability. 

First, as an affiliate, you should always think ahead and build a long-term play. Many of the articles that were written five to seven years ago could still bring you income. It is your responsibility to provide your audience with quality recommendations. On the other hand, if a company deceives the tourists, sooner or later, it will deceive the bloggers as well.

Secondly, an affiliate programme needs to be able to operate with a large flow of tourists and provide a good service. For example, the majority of the local guides have their own websites. And each country has client-oriented car rentals, with only five to ten cars on hand. Therefore, it’s quite pointless to recommend these rentals if you have good traffic – in a week or so, your guide will plan out the summer ahead, and people won’t be able to book a car. So, there is no upside in recommending these programmes.

And last, choose the travel affiliate partner with beneficial participation conditions and clear requirements for its participants. Of course, it’s possible to get your income based on articles, but my experience says that CPA is more profitable, though risky. 

Why else are local companies more beneficial?

Local companies’ websites are not very convenient for customers, and their payment options are limited. The outcome to this is simple then: conversion will be worse. On the other hand, they don’t steal traffic with pop-ups, promo codes, cashback, and other “profitable” offers in order to beat your marker. Working with small companies is more complicated when obtaining money in a legal way. Your commission must be always checked thoroughly. There can be many mistakes, technical blunders, and misunderstandings. Moreover, when you work with ten different companies, communication takes a lot of time. One invoice from an international brand is easier to manage than a small amount from many local partnerships.

The majority of the local companies rely on a single founder. That means that if the founder eventually loses interest in the project, the chance of them selling the business is higher. In this case, all your attempts to sharpen content go in vain. When you work with a local brand, it’s almost impossible to change links to another agency. The content is the key, and you have to change it significantly. 

Your relationships with most local travel agencies will be based solely on trust because this isn’t a big business. Even if you form your relations in accordance with the law, they might quickly change the legal person and could steal your commissions. There are a lot of shady individuals and one-day companies in tourism. 

Normally, big companies provide the same quality of service in every market. So, having taken Tripster’s tours in Prague or Austria, you can be relatively confident that identical deals in Poland will be good as well. This experience allows an affiliate to write profoundly better and to the point. Each local travel website has its own peculiarities. So, you have to test them first and explore the tours by yourself. Local brands also don’t have a reputation among the masses, and people usually don’t have any faith in them. So, you have to convince your audience with your own experience, authority, photos, and life stories.

Also, there might be cultural differences. If a local company has been organised by locals and not your compatriots, you have to delve into local peculiarities. Big brands have these processes standardised and polished. Of course, online translators might help, but you must be willing to lose local nuances and tones.To summarise, there are plenty of benefits that you might have for your online business while multiplying your profits in 2021 by working with local travel partners directly. Make sure you use trustworthy and high-quality products to justify audience confidence. Domestic and regional tourism is one of the main trends in the post-coronavirus travel world. For this reason, focusing on working with local partners and promoting domestic trips might be an excellent decision for webmasters right now.