Most hotels will have web-based facilities (a website) to promote their services or products, but there are other ways of earning a passive income from recommending and promoting other companies’ products and services too. This can be done in any number of ways but online, this kind of arrangement is called Affiliate Marketing.
Why should I get excited about Affiliate Marketing?
Let me share some recent statistics. This year, Rakuten research predicted that that revenues from Affiliate Marketing will grow to US$5 billion (approximately £4.1billion) in the next 5 years.
And travel is one of the top performing categories in the Affiliate Marketing space.
So clearly Affiliate Marketing is a huge revenue stream for both Affiliates and the merchants offering the programmes. Affiliate Marketing, simply put, is the tool by which a merchant or product owner can use other sites to promote and sell their products for them. While we can discuss what running your own Affiliate Programme can do for your business later, this article is focused on adding new revenue streams easily, so you are the Affiliate in this scenario.
Our recent survey into the online travel booking habits clearly showed that people bought ancillary products when booking their hotel stay*.
We asked: Do you tend to book optional extras at the same time?
So if you are not offering these products to your guests, then you are missing out as they are clearly indicating they will be purchasing them. Why not from you? Or, via your recommendations?
Online, an Affiliate programme is a great tool for a business selling products as all the tracking is taken care of online and there is no paperwork. As an Affiliate you are basically referring people to the merchant and earning money when they buy something. No stock, no delivery, no refunds, no complaints!
How do I become an Affiliate?
To become an “Affiliate” – i.e. you want to sell other peoples’ products on your website – the best place to go is an Affiliate network where lots of merchants go to offer their products for sale.
Affiliate networks such as AffiliateWindow for example offer Affiliate programmes on behalf of travel related businesses such as APH Car Parking, London City Airport Parking, Essential Travel, Enterprise Car Hire, SeaLife, AttractionTix and many more.
Just register as an Affiliate (or publisher) then sign up to the programmes relevant to your site. Once you have been approved, you can start adding Affiliate links to your site in order to promote their products.
Here is a list of the Major UK networks
Within these networks you will have access to thousands of merchants and hundreds of thousands of products.
In some cases adding some Affiliate banners from some related “big brands” can earn you kudos with your site visitors as there is a perceived association!
For the more specialised products and services, you may have to visit the sites you want to work with directly to see if they offer an Affiliate programme. To join these programmes simply visit their sites and sign up.
How do I promote Affiliate Programmes without my site looking like a flea market?
Most of us work long hours and spend a considerable amount of money building our brands and our products, so I can understand the dilemma of how to best promote these programmes without detracting anything away from your core business.
Here are a few ideas that I have used and recommend my clients use to add valuable content to their sites and also utilize Affiliate programmes.
An honest impartial review of another product or service is a great way to add content your site, and offers your visitors your opinion on a product. If you have a loyal fan base it is easy to refer them to your “recommended” products. Just make sure that you have tested or used it.
Just add text links into the review that are your Affiliate links. In this way they user can visit the site or product and if your review is helpful enough, they will buy.
This is a great way for those of us who don’t like to ask for a sale or don’t like selling. These are great to add to a blog or share on social media.
It could be that you just build a directory of products and services and use your Affiliate links to direct users.
If you have a mailing list, you could send out an email about a given product or service or add advertisements into your normal email. Or if you have an autoresponder system, why not add Affiliate links into the course itself or a build a separate email as a followup? This could work very well on your booking confirmation pages or in your booking confirmation emails. You can take examples from the airline industry and how they try and cross sell to flight bookers.
Once set up, it basically looks after itself so the more booking your take, the more people will see the secondary offers.
Why not vary your email or forum signature and have some Affiliate links embedded into it?
You could even build a separate site just with Affiliate program links. Lots of companies do this with “name” recommends.com or something like this and this site has a list of recommended Affiliate products, even reviews in some cases.
The trick is to create your own adverts, in your voice, and this will set you apart from everyone else and drive you more sales.
As you can hopefully see, adding Affiliate products to your income arsenal is a great way to develop a substantial passive income without detracting from your core business. You can even use Affiliate product sales as research for new products. If lots of your clients are buying a product that you could build your own version of and distribute yourself, then your Affiliate sales have paid you to carry out the research to see if the product would sell.
Give Affiliate Marketing a try now!
* Independent survey carried out October 2016 for Travel Marketing