Affiliate Marketing has been around for quite some time, but it’s surprising to see how many hospitality sales & marketing professionals are unaware of the tremendous online opporunities that exist. So just what is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is an Internet-based marketing practice in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate’s marketing efforts. Affiliate marketing is also the name of the industry where a number of different types of companies and individuals are performing this form of Internet marketing, including affiliate networks, affiliate management companies, and in-house affiliate managers, specialized third party vendors, and various types of affiliates / publishers who promote the products and services of their partners. (Source: Wikipedia)
While Hotels can employ a variety of affiliate marketing techniques, primary methods include setting up their own simple affiliate program where those who generate sales are rewarded with a commission (much like a travel agent commission, but usually lower than the 10%)…or working with established online affiliate marketplace like Commission Junction (CJ.com) to create an affilate program.
So what’s the benefit you ask? Online Affiliate marketing essentially utilizes the power of other established networks and sites to leverage your brand and generate sales based on performance. This is a much better approach that pure banner advertising since it does not require direct relationship management (when using an online affiliate marketplace) and hoteliers can reach many more quality sites on the internet, having them perform and sell on their behalf. It goes without saying, of course, that choosing the affiliate program system you set up for yourself and / or marketplace must be done with plenty of thought to processes, brand identity and reputation.
Even OTA’s (Online Travel Agencies) employ very successful Affiliate programs to generate booking leads and pay out from 2-6% of booking revenues to affiliates…e.g. Booking.com, GTA, etc. Other OTA’s employ affilate networks to deploy their programs, e.g. Expedia. Hotel Chains like Choice Hotels, Sheraton, Westin, Four Points, Marriott, etc have also been using Affiliate programs for some time now to reach out to a variety of global web publishers and generate bookings. Look here for a detailed list of Affiliate Networks
More on Affiliate marketing for Hotels and Hospitality in future posts…