How the travel industry benefits from affiliate marketing

Updated: January 17, 2020 7:53:01 AM

Affiliate campaigns featuring coupons and cashback have been leveraged to promote early booking offers

The rise of new-age publishers has necessitated a transformative shift towards more innovative affiliate strategies.The rise of new-age publishers has necessitated a transformative shift towards more innovative affiliate strategies.

By Neha Kulwal

The travel and tourism industry is no stranger to affiliate marketing. As a matter of fact, players in the travel and tourism industry have been amongst the earliest adopters of affiliate marketing within the Indian e-commerce space. Affiliate campaigns featuring coupons and cashback have been leveraged to promote early booking offers for quite a while now. Price comparison also remains a perennial favourite amongst travel brands to attract prospective consumers during peak travel seasons.

And now, interesting developments in the affiliate value chain are adding yet newer layers to the way the industry approaches affiliate marketing. While traditional affiliate channels remain popular amongst travel brands, the rise of new-age publishers has necessitated a transformative shift towards more innovative affiliate strategies.

New age, new horizons

Take the rise of travel bloggers/ vloggers and influencers, for instance. The concept of travel blogging started out as a means for hobbyist writers to share their travel experiences and adventures with their peers in the online medium. Over time, however, it has evolved into an ecosystem in which top publishers hold sway amongst a strong online audience comprising millions of dedicated followers. The rise of social media platforms, such as Instagram, has only served to further strengthen this new-age ecosystem, adding a more immersive and visual dynamic to the mix. Other emerging affiliate channels, such as travel-focussed online forums, also contribute to driving the conversation around travel and tourism.

All of this presents a lucrative engagement opportunity to travel brands. Because these new-age affiliate channels help them in reaching out to modern consumers with the one thing they value above all else: relevant content. There is nothing more authentic and relevant than user-generated content about a brand offering.

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This value proposition is further amplified by the fact that affiliate marketing delivers one of the highest ROIs in the digital space, thanks to its performance-linked approach. There are no upfront costs for creating and deploying affiliate campaigns. The payouts are only processed once the required KPI target (sale, app install, click-through, etc) has been achieved.

Affiliating with success

While affiliate associations can no doubt drive significant traction for online travel businesses, managing them requires dedicated in-house set-ups — significant investment of time and effort to build the requisite tech infrastructure, as well as a talent pool of affiliate marketing professionals. Leading affiliate marketing networks step in here to empower advertisers with the tools to amplify the reach and efficacy of their affiliate campaigns.

Many travel companies such as MakeMyTrip, Emirates, Booking.com, and Qatar Airways are already reaping the benefits of partnering with affiliate networks. A recent report by Google highlighted that, when it came to travel planning, around 45% of Indians opted for YouTube recommendations more frequently than they visited OTA websites or mobile apps directly. These stats only serve to strengthen the fact that in a world that is fast turning digital and consumes content at an unprecedented pace, leveraging innovative affiliate marketing tools to drive growth and business is no longer a luxury for players in the travel space.

Estimated to account for almost half of the industry’s overall business (43%), online travel has registered strong growth and adoption on the back of increasing digital penetration and internet connectivity. It is little wonder, then, that affiliate marketing has found massive traction amongst conventional businesses and new-age disruptors.

The author is country manager, Admitad India

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