Why should a hotel be interested in affiliate marketing? What are the benefits of using a hotel affiliate marketing strategy? On average, affiliate programs generate 15%–30% of all sales for advertisers. Hotels can use this to their advantage to increase their bookings and extend their target market reach. Affiliate marketing is a simple tool that can be added to boost your overall online marketing strategy.
What is affiliate marketing in hotel industry?
A fantastic definition of affiliate marketing comes from Pat Flynn, an expert affiliate marketer:
“Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s (or companies’) products. You find a product you like, promote it to others, and earn a piece of the profit for each sale that you make.”
Many associate this term with simple passive income, especially for bloggers, but businesses can dip into this as well. Overall, the process involves receiving a part of the profit for a company who wants products marketed and sold.
The 3 important elements of affiliate marketing
There are 3 main components for affiliate marketing: the advertiser (hotel), publisher and consumer (guest). The process starts with the advertiser who wants a product promoted so it can be sold. The publisher then advertises this product (often through blogs or other content as external links), so that a reader can see it. Once this reader makes a purchase, they become the end consumer. The majority of the revenue from the purchase goes back to the advertiser, in which the publisher receives a portion for enabling this purchase.
The advertiser can be a company, brand, seller or product creator. Their goal is to increase traffic to their product listings on their website by promoting them through links on another website (the publisher).
Why would they want to do this? Isn’t their own marketing enough?
Affiliate marketing is based on the premise of reaching the most potential customers possible (impressions). It’s not that their marketing strategy or website is lacking, but publisher websites may have access to a better target audience than the advertiser. This is one way that bloggers can make money because they have a specific target audience who reads their articles and they can include links to the advertiser’s products within their articles and receive a commission.
This commission for publishers is what has made affiliate marketing so popular, because it enables them to earn income passively. While they still need to take the time to generate their own content, this content can include affiliate links from advertisers that take a simple click to add in. Particularly if the publisher has a high amount of monthly website traffic, the more likely it is that their earnings are higher through affiliate purchases. It’s a no-brainer for many bloggers because they basically earn additional income for themselves and advertisers for continuing to do what they’re already doing – just with specific advertiser backlinks included.
The consumer of course plays an extremely important role in this process because they drive the purchases. The reason why a consumer may purchase something through an affiliate link is that they trust the publisher’s brand. Maybe this consumer has no idea about the advertiser and that’s why this advertiser wants to work with this publisher: to add to their product and brand reliability through the publisher as a “referral”. When a publisher decides to add advertiser links within their content, they are inevitably supporting these products, which generates revenue because their website users trust the publisher’s brand.
How does hotel affiliate marketing work?
So now we come to the topic of hotel affiliate marketing. Why would a hotel want to take part in such a process? There are twofold benefits: the first is that a hotel can generate more bookings. Alternatively, if the hotel has a high amount of readership, other advertisers may want to list their products on the hotel’s website as a publisher. It’s even possible to do both simultaneously. Let’s take a look at two examples.
Going the advertiser route
If you want to jump in to the realm of hotel affiliate marketing, hotels will likely want to begin as advertisers. Taking on the role of the advertiser can increase revenue by generating further bookings. For example, you have a special for honeymoon suites that are a bit pricey and have had some trouble finding adequate bookings. You could contact a travel blogger that has articles involving tips for couples to use while traveling. It could become even more specific by focusing on a travel blogger who is near to your location or has a lot of experience with that region. You can contact this travel blogger to add a backlink to your hotel for booking a honeymoon suite in exchange for offering them a portion of the profit.
Going the publisher route
The passive income concept is relevant for any publisher, regardless of whether it’s a company or a private individual. Hotels that are more experienced with content marketing, SEO and blogging will want to take advantage of using their content to act as the publisher. An example for how this could work is that your hotel or hotel brand has an active blog with a large readership. An advertiser for a spa located in your area may contact you to include backlinks for customers to make spa services bookings.
What are the benefits of affiliate marketing for hotels and hotel industry?
No matter whether you choose to take the stance of the publisher, advertiser, or both affiliate marketing has some massive benefits for hotels. A few of the major ones are listed below.
Increases occupancy rate
When you act as the advertiser, the publisher will add links on their website to your booking platforms. This can dramatically increase your bookings, and consequently also your occupancy rate. It’s a win-win for both you and the publisher due to the profit sharing concept – and the best part is this is marketing that occurs 24/7 without much effort.
Stabilize customer influx
More bookings inevitably means a bigger influx of customers. Particularly if you work with a publisher on a long-term basis, over time you can establish patterns for how many bookings that publisher brings in. This helps you to continually reach the occupancy rate that works for you at a stable rate. What’s more, being able to calculate average customers and revenue is an essential element of sales forecasting.
Additional income stream
In addition to the increase in bookings, if you choose to act as the publisher and list other people’s products, this same passive revenue can come to you as well. Not only is this useful for long-term partnerships, it’s particularly useful for partnerships within your local area. These partnerships are essential for hotels because they help bring a better reputation to your brand and you can offer discounts through booking with them to your customers.
Extend target market reach
Sometimes it can be difficult to reach particular target markets. This can stem from a variety of barriers, including a new location, a different demographic, or you’re a new company that doesn’t have a high level of brand awareness. Affiliate partners can help reach these markets because they have their readership based on trust. Customers are loyal due a publisher’s brand values. This is the total premise behind online marketing. So when this publisher advocates for your hotel, customers are much more likely to book with you. Publishers are a way for advertisers to get their foot in the door with target markets that may have otherwise been impossible for them to reach.
Best hotel affiliate programs for hotel advertisers
If your hotel would like to get started as an advertiser, these are some affiliate programs that publishers use to add backlinks to their websites so end consumers can easily make bookings. A few of the major ones are listed here, but it’s important to note that affiliate marketing can also be successful when it includes direct links to book through your website.
#1 Your Own using TravelAff
By building your own affiliate program you are able to build your own brand instead of paying 3rd party commissions. In TravelAff you are able to set up your own rules and work directly with publishers and influencers to bring more profits.
Including your hotel on Booking.com is a part of the basics of hotel marketing. It connects you to local searches, offers benefits for customer loyalty and makes it easy to collect reviews. And if that’s not enough, Booking.com has a highly successful affiliate program that includes over 2.5 million properties across the globe.
Listing your hotel on TripAdvisor is another one of the top methods of gaining more bookings and reviews. By providing publishers your booking link through TripAdvisor, you provide end users with an advocate to promote your brand as well as making purchases through a highly trusted booking platform.
Expedia’s reach is basically limitless. With over 260,000 bookable websites across more than 70 countries, having your hotel listed on Expedia is a basic requirement. Publishers are comfortable with using Expedia affiliate links for bookings and customers know and trust this platform across the globe.
Lesser known than the above travel industry powerhouses, Travelpayouts has been known to have one of the highest success rates for affiliate marketing. You can add your hotel listing there, as well as any partnerships with companies like car rentals, flights, insurance and more. This will maximize the potential reach for both you and your partners.
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