The future of affiliate marketing in travel…

Last Thursday, April 12, I spoke at the affiliateblogger sessions about the success and future of affiliate marketing. I did this with a specific focus on the travel industry as it differs from other segments of the market. In this post, I will point out a few of the main topics that I addressed.

Caution, before we start..

If you want to read my presentation, find it here. (in PDF and only in Dutch).

It’s important to realise I have a heavy biased view. Having been a publisher for the last six years and with no experience on the network and advertiser side, it’s obvious that I am here to represent only 1/3 of the stakeholders in our industry.

However, the travel segment in affiliation has made a good development and professionalising of all the stakeholders is a positive development. Yet I feel there are many challenges and opportunities.

Why affiliate marketing in travel?

One of the first topics that I addressed is why I like the travel segment so much more than any other such as retail, fashion or gambling. Why:

  • Travel products are sexy: A holiday is (way more interesting than the new iPhoneX or a bank loan from Chase!
  • Full creative freedom: Publishers have the full creative freedom to do whatever they like; from content on a specific destination, a website about frequent flyers or a travel deal blog; everything is possible!
  • High order values: everyone loves high commissions and luckily; travel products are usually expensive and therefore bring in nice commissions!

Attribution conversion is the next thing!

Opportunities in travel affiliation

We have seen many technical and organisational developments in the past years that have made our publisher hears beat faster. Notably the following developments:

  • Attribution conversion: finally a fair way of rewarding every publisher that has benefited in the funnel. But only when the advertiser sets fair reward categories and segments.
    • Small addition: please add every touchpoint in the funnel and therefore also include all channels (including own channels from the advertiser (e-mail, retargeting etc).
  • Cross-device: in a time of multiple changing devices its essential that cross-device tracking is standard included in every network!


The Triangle of success – Ingmar Bruinsma 2018

Triangle of success:

Communication is essential. Not only between publisher and network but also between network and advertiser and publisher and advertiser. I call this the triangle of success. This is a communicational model that I believe every stakeholder in the affiliation process should understand and realise.

Please ensure that you (advertiser) have a direct connection to the majority of your big publishers. Why? Because it’s crazy that a publisher has to ask someone at the network to forward a question that’s fully product or service related.

Practical example: I used to have regular calls and meetings with big advertisers without any involvement from my contact at the networks. And that should be fine because this strengthens the cooperation between publisher and brand (and ultimately that’s also whats happening on the practical side of the business)

Tips for advertisers and networks

I obviously prepared a biased presentation, fine in my opinion. Therefore I also have noted down a few tips for both networks and advertisers because I often have the feeling they don’t realise what we (publishers) are doing:

  • 99% of the publishers are not cowboys: we stick to the rules and play the game like it should be played.
  • Never forget we are all entrepreneurs and working together is our job. But working together = giving and taking, that comes from both sides!
  • Make sure you have a dedicated affiliate marketer (advertiser)
  • Be open to new players; talk with them, read their messages
  • Be transparent!

A different cartel ;-)

Watch out for the cartel

I am just one publisher who has been building a business out of affiliate marketing but only in the Netherlands and Belgium alone there are plenty of them. Most of them hobbyists but also a big group who are actively building their businesses around this method of online monetisation. In my opinion networks and mainly advertisers have a bad habit of forgetting this and mainly base their decisions on numbers and fail to realise the enormous impact they have.

Therefore; don’t be surprised if multiple publishers will group together and will try and start to have an impact on the industry we operate in. Never forget: without publishers, affiliation doesn’t work 😉

My presentation

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About Ingmar Bruinsma

Ingmar Bruinsma is an entrepreneur in the travel industry. He also provides consultancy services in the field of marketing, business development to clients in travel & aviation. He blogs about topics in tourism, travel, aviation, digital marketing.

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