Affiliate marketing is one common way for bloggers and content creators to monetize their content and channels. With travel being such a big industry, it is not surprising that many travel affiliate programs are available.
Simply put, affiliate programs are referral programs offered by companies to individuals (i.e., affiliates) who like to refer the companies’ products/services to their audience. The affiliate earns a commission in the process if a purchase is being made by the referred traffic.
It is a long-standing marketing strategy in the internet era that creates a win-win situation for all parties. Companies get more brand awareness and traffic to their site. The audience gets a recommendation to relevant products/services which can serve their needs. The affiliate makes a commission if a sale goes through.
Factors to look for in Affiliate Programs
Despite having a wide range of affiliate programs to choose from, bloggers should not just hop on to whatever is available. Here are some things to consider.
Only Relevant Companies You Trust
It is important that you only participate in affiliate programs of companies and services that you trust or have enjoyed. You do not want to be referring irrelevant or poor companies to your audience. Trust is essential when building your community, and you do not want to ruin it by recommending irrelevant or poor products/services.
Commission Rate is basically how much you will get paid as the affiliate when someone you sent to the company’s site converts into a paying customer. This can sometimes be a percentage of sales, but it can also be a fixed amount. The higher the commission rate, the more advantageous it is for you.
The cookie duration is a trackable code embedded in the affiliate link, allowing the company to credit the right affiliate for any referrals. Technicalities aside, what you want to take note of is how long does this tracking last.
If it lasts for 30 days, it means that it will still be credited to you as long as your referral makes a purchase within 30 days. Some cookies expire once the browser is closed. The duration is determined by the company and can vary drastically. The longer the duration, the better it is for affiliates.
Travel Affiliate Programs
Travel often involves a lot of logistical consideration, and for each space, there are affiliate programs offered by established and lesser-known companies.
Here are the areas you can consider and some of the best travel affiliate programs available.
Accommodation Affiliate Programs
Accommodation is a big part of travel. Every traveler will likely need to book some form of accommodation when traveling. As a travel blogger, you must have your favorite platforms as well.
Hostel World is the go-to platform for booking hostels and is popular among the younger crowd. They have coverage in over 179 countries. This is a good affiliate program to join if your audience belongs to the hostel world.
Hostel World’s affiliate program is part of the Partnertize network. They offer between; it is also an easy program to join without much requirements on web traffic metric.
Booking.com is one of the most popular accommodation booking platforms with more than a million accommodation options. Consequently, the affiliate program is also a good choice for travel bloggers. Booking.com offers affiliates between 25-40% of their own platform’s received commission per qualifying booking.
Booking.com’s affiliate program is more selective, and you do need to have a specific website traffic amount to qualify for it. They offer the program and are also part of some affiliate networks.
Agoda is another common platform for booking accommodations. The commission rate is between 5-7% of the total booking price. Interestingly both Booking.com and Agoda are owned by the same parent company, Booking Holdings.
Travel Transportation Affiliate Programs
Travel obviously includes transportation of some form. There are so many options here, which will mainly depend on your own travel style. This can consist of flight booking sites, car rentals, train and railway companies, bus companies, etc.
Here are a few prominent travel affiliate programs in this area.
This is one of the most popular flight aggregators out there for searching and getting alerts of flight ticket prices. Skyscanner has wide coverage and has an affiliate program that offers around 20% of the platform’s own cut per qualifying sale.
Expedia is another big name in the travel space. It is also an aggregator for all things travel, including transportation mediums, hotels, and packages. They offer around 6% commission per sale. The Expedia affiliate program is hosted under the affiliate network Commission Junction.
They are another travel products search aggregator, but Momondo only offers an affiliate program on flights. The interesting thing here is that the affiliate program doesn’t count on sales but click-outs from their flight search results page. They pay out a rate of $0.65 (desktop and tablet) and $0.45 (mobile) CPA for each qualifying click out. The Momondo affiliate program is hosted under the affiliate networks Commission Junction and Webgains.
Travel Insurance Affiliate Programs
Travel insurance is another important consideration to address when planning for a trip. As a long-term, nomadic traveler, there are 2 companies I currently look at when getting travel insurance. These companies provide comparatively flexible purchasing schemes without needing a specific trip end date. You can simply extend and purchase whenever you need coverage.
World Nomads has been around for a few years now and is known among digital nomads and frequent travelers. They have quite extensive geographical coverage and offer a 10% commission for every qualifying sale.
There is often a comparison between SafetyWing and WorldNomads due to the similar target market. However, they are actually more focused on travel medical and health insurance compared to the typical travel insurance. SafetyWing also offer remote and international health insurance. The affiliate program offers a commission rate of 10% per referred sale.
Travel Gear Recommendations
A common topic that travel bloggers cover is gear recommendations. You can definitely check out individual brands, and some of them do have affiliate programs. However, the main program in regards to this space is simply the largest e-commerce platform.
Amazon carries multiple brands, and most people, particularly from the United States, will just purchase on Amazon simply because of the convenience. They can group shipments together with their other daily purchases, and there is strong coverage in the US.
Commission rates vary across different product categories, and there are certain rules for qualifying purchases. It is slightly complicated, but it is the program to join simply because it covers such a wide range of products.
Another plus point of Amazon Associates is that you don’t just earn a commission based on the product you recommend. As long as the user entered amazon through your affiliate link and a purchase of any qualifying product is eventually made, the sale will be credited to you.
For Amazon Associates, you need to have at least 3 qualifying sales within 6 months of signing up. Otherwise, your affiliate account will be deactivated, and you need to reactivate it again.
WiFi availability is always essential for the modern-day person. Your phone is your map, your camera, your information source when you travel. It is even more important for digital nomads who are working on the go.
Skyroam provides portable hotspot devices and international internet access. They also give you a discount code that you can share with your audience. The commission rate is around 10% per qualifying sale.
Another company that has good geographical coverage and provides international and eSIM services is Airalo. While sometimes local SIM might be cheaper, I found that in places like the European Union where you might be traveling quickly through a few different countries, buying regional coverage is more worthwhile. Airalo offers a 15% commission for every qualifying sale.
This category includes all sorts of activities and tickets that a traveler might purchase or participate in on their trip. This can be tour packages to the safari, attractions tickets, city passes, etc.
In my opinion, these are largely more relevant in developed countries and very popular tourist spots where it is advantageous to book stuff in advance online.
This is one of the larger booking platforms where you can find many popular products and packages, including many must-do activities for travelers. I find that the platform is particularly good for European destinations. GetYourGuide provides an 8% base commission with the possibility of scaling further up.
Klook is another international platform that has a wide range of tours and passes. They also have good coverage of Asia and can complement other programs you might join. The commission is 2-5% of the booking cost. You also need to record a booking within the first 6 months, or the affiliate account will be deactivated.
You have seen the term mentioned above a few times and might be wondering what affiliate networks are? Affiliate networks are basically platforms that host multiple affiliate programs for companies. Some companies both carry their own affiliate programs and also make them available on affiliate networks. Conversely, some companies only have affiliate programs in affiliate networks, presumably to reduce management efforts.
The good thing about Affiliate Networks is that they can be a collated platform for a bunch of your affiliate programs and payouts, so you don’t have to manage too many accounts. The commission rates are not standard and vary across each program.
Without considering the user experience of the interface, there are a few networks worth looking into for travel bloggers because of the brands/companies with them.
Commission Junction gives you access to the affiliate programs for Skyscanner, Momondo, and Expedia.
Travelpayouts is an affiliate network focused on travel companies and brands. You can find some of the platforms above on this network. This can make it easier to manage, but the commission rate may not be as high as the self-hosted programs. It is also rumored that you might be able to get into some of the more selective affiliate programs via this network.
AvantLink is a common affiliate network that appeals to content creators from different industries. They have a large number of brands on board the network. Some outdoor brands here like REI and Patagonia will interest you if you are into outdoor travel.
There are many affiliate programs available for selection. Look out for them and remember that these should be relevant and useful for your audience.
Good places to start are the items, brands, services that you already use yourself and found helpful. Also, keep an eye on products circulating within your audience demographics. Some things might not be relevant for you specifically but could be good for a portion of your audience group.
You should always approach Affiliate Marketing with the perspective of providing useful information and recommendations to your audience rather than simply just as a revenue source.