Travel Affiliate Programs – Guide to Maximising Earnings

Marija Krasnopjorova
29.07.20
9 minute read

Travel is big business. In 2018, there were 1.4 billion international tourist arrivals across the globe; way more than the numbers the WTO predicted a decade ago. Low barriers to entry and online bookings have been significant contributors to these figures with nearly 150 million online bookings made last year alone!

Numbers like these create a huge opportunity out there for affiliate marketers; whether you’re a travel blogger, YouTuber, social influencer, or a little bit of them all… with the right content, you can earn big money from your travel partners.

But aren’t travel affiliates getting a little saturated now? Can you still earn a solid passive income from these affiliate programs? Read on to find out!

What is an Affiliate Program?

Affiliate programs are present across all industries, not just travel, and are in place to provide a commission to their partners (content creators like you) who can generate bookings or sales of a business's product. It’s essentially a form of advertising known to marketeers as Pay Per Action and many people make a lucrative career from designing websites purely targeting this kind of traffic.

One of the biggest affiliate programs out there right now? Amazon. Their associate's program is popular with virtually every kind of blogger there is from travel to tech, even DIY. Because Amazon’s product range is so huge they have something for sale in just about every niche.

For example, as a travel blogger, you may recommend specific travel luggage to your subscribers, then link to the product on Amazon using an affiliate link. Anything they then buy within 24 hours of clicking your link, you’ll get a commission for, not just the product you linked for. Pretty amazing right?!

Looking to join an affiliate program and recommend services for travellers? Join the TransferWise Affiliate Program and earn commission while promoting our multi-currency account and debit card to your audience.

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What You Need to Know about Travel Affiliate Programs

As with any industry, there are pros and cons to becoming an affiliate marketer. In the travel niche, if you’re already an established blogger/vlogger/influencer, affiliate programs can be a great way to monetize your content.

The spend on travel is usually high, meaning that if you target the right audience, there’s the potential to make a lot of money. Even if you’re catering to backpackers as opposed to luxury travelers, there’s still a huge market out there waiting to be tapped into.

By using your own experiences to create interesting and unique content, you can easily promote places you’ve stayed or experiences you’ve had and your audience will likely want to take a look, especially if you already have that trust built with them. You can target keywords with buyer intent to direct people to your content before they make a purchase. Optin Monster has found that 80% of us now do our travel planning online meaning there’s plenty of traffic to be had.

Of course, there are some downsides to affiliate marketing, and one of the biggest cons of operating in the travel niche is that it’s very heavily saturated. meaning that you'll have to work harder to stand out from the crowd. Some sites have been around for years now and have established a high level of authority meaning they’re harder to rank against.

Nevertheless, it is still doable, you just need to put in the leg work. The most effective way to create a presence in the travel industry nowadays is to pick a sub-niche and make it the ultimate source of information for your audience. If you do that, they won't want to go anywhere else.

How to Make Sure you Maximize your Earnings as an Affiliate Marketer

Affiliate marketing can be a little bit of a science sometimes, with the right tracking, analytics, and strategy in place, you can turn a generous profit. Here are our tips for success.

Research the market

See which affiliate marketers are doing well and why. Once you’re seasoned with affiliate marketing, you’ll be able to spot affiliates a mile off.

You can use powerful SEO tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, and Moz to do your competitor analysis and keyword research. Neil Patel has also released a new, free tool called Ubersuggest which is easy to use and provides a range of tools to help you rank better. The free option is a little limited, and you may find initially it’s better to invest in the paid version to access more searches.

Once you’ve done your research you can develop a solid content strategy and use resources like Answer the Public to see what questions people are asking in the travel niche. Solving problems for your audience will go a long way in your affiliate marketing journey.

Looking for some travel-specific affiliate content for inspiration? Then you should also look up Sharon Gourlay. Her family travel website Where’s Sharon was hugely successful with affiliate marketing which then inspired her to go on and work with affiliates in multiple niches, generating passive income so she could travel whenever and wherever she wanted.

Look Beyond Travel Affiliate Programs

It’s always a good idea to think outside the box too when delving into the world of affiliates. Aside from the obvious hotel and flight bookings, think of other things that travelers are going to need for their trips and sign up to these affiliate programs too

Travel insurance is a must and you can make big money on commissions on gap year insurance premiums as they’re usually pretty pricey.

Banking and finance is also a great direction too for travel affiliates. One major bugbear of frequent travelers is the sheer cost in foreign exchange fees when spending abroad. So, solve their problem and recommend products that save travelers money on such fees.

The TransferWise multi-currency account is the ideal solution as members can have accounts in multiple currencies and exchange them at the mid-market rate with low, transparent conversion fees. It comes with a debit card that can also be used to withdraw cash like a local. It’s not only ideal for backpackers who spend a lot of time in many countries but for those who work and get paid in multiple currencies too, like digital nomads.

Make Use of Special Offers Brands Have for Affiliate Marketers

Many affiliate programs come with exclusive discounts for their affiliate marketers to help encourage signups and convert more of your audience. If you do have a larger online presence, you can also reach out to the company directly to see if they can offer you a better discount code than usual to really entice your site visitors. Many affiliates will also send out seasonal offers and banners with different commission incentives too, so you should regularly check those.

Join the TransferWise Affiliate Program and get instant access to your tracking link today. Find out more here!

Best Practices for Writing Travel Affiliate Content

Next, we wanted to focus on the best practices for writing affiliate content in the travel niche, here are a couple of our top tips to help you write great affiliate articles.

Target a Specific Niche and Create Useful, Engaging Content

Picking a niche in travel is the best way to ensure that you get noticed in a large crowd. Then, from there you can create specific articles related to that niche that will be useful to your readers.

For example, for a travel blog focused on backpacking in Australia, you could create content such as ‘Best hostels in X city’, or ‘Everything you need for a successful road trip in Australia’ which could include affiliate links for travel apps, booking sites, insurance companies and more.

Alternatively, your niche may solely focus on road trips, but all across the globe.

Whatever niche you choose, make sure it’s something that you regularly do that interests you, that way, you’ll find it much easier to create content. Plus the more unique it is the better. For example, I came across a content creator in the travel niche who is a marathon runner. He ran from Asia back to the UK in 66 days – now that’s some way to travel. It creates interesting content that the audience engages with, its something different from the usual methods of travel.

Do Keyword Research and Competitor Analysis

Keyword research will help you to see how many people are looking for specific content in your niche, and, more importantly, how competitive the keyword is. This article is a great resource on how you can find the best travel keywords and is perfect for beginners. They cover topics like the importance of longtail keywords and how to use site tools such as Ahrefs to analyze already successful content and build upon it for your own website.

Use Data Analysis to Improve Existing Content

By analyzing your site metrics, you’ll be able to make slight improvements to your written content and not only rank better, but keep users on your page for longer and prevent them from leaving your site in a hurry.

By monitoring your bounce rate, time spent on-page, and conversion rates, you can quickly work out what is and isn’t working for you and your audience. You can even try A/B testing on certain pages to see if the aesthetic of your site results in conversions or not.

Additionally, you can also look at re-optimizing articles that are already ranking well to give them an extra boost. this is one of the easiest ways you can rank for more keywords, and it can be completed in less than 30 minutes. I once tried this myself and ranked for 50 more keywords the very next day. By going through a popular page on your site and replacing some words and phrases with actual keywords people are searching on google, you can skyrocket your rankings, increase traffic and get more conversions with your travel affiliate programs.

Keep Your Content Relevant and Up to Date

Travel is a dynamic industry and is forever changing, so you’ll need to ensure you update your content regularly – this also helps you rank better too. Even if you don’t have much time, by simply changing a title from say ‘Best Hostels for Backpackers in 2019’ to ‘Best Hotels for Backpackers in 2021’, you’re immediately revamping your content and keeping it up to date. In this example, you’d of course need to check all the properties are still there and are still popular amongst visitors though as this can have an impact on your credibility as a blogger.

Four travel affiliate programs to join this year

Okay, so what are the best travel affiliate programs to get started with this year? We’ve listed our top four below:

#1 TripAdvisor Affiliate Program

TripAdvisor is used worldwide by millions and is a trusted resource for all types of travelers researching where to stay and what to do whilst on vacation.

Commission Structure: At least 50% of their commission from click-throughs to partners. No purchase required.

Referral Window/Tracking: 14 days

Best for: Any traveler looking to book/research accommodation for their trip.

#2 Booking.com Affiliate Program

Booking.com is one of the largest accommodation booking providers in the world, offering over 1 million places to stay on its platform; from hotels to hostels, to private apartments and villas.

Commission Structure: Tiered. Starts at 25% of the commission they get from the accommodation and for those who have more than 501 confirmed bookings per month it can go up to 40% of their commission received.

Referral Window/Tracking: Only in-session, no tracking at the moment

Best for: Any type of traveler wanting to book a place to stay

#3 World Nomads Affiliate Program

World Nomads is one of the most popular backpacker insurance companies operating in 140 countries at present. It offers longer-term insurance options, cover for gadgets, and extra cover for adventure sports.

Commission Structure: Fixed. 10% of each sale.

Referral Window/Tracking: 60 days.

Best for: Backpackers or gap year travelers, or those who will be spending long periods of time overseas. Also good for those traveling with gadgets and wanting to do adventure activities.

#4 TransferWise Affiliate Program

TransferWise is one of the leading currency exchange platforms right now and gives users access to a multi-currency account that can be used in 80 countries and counting. Offering much cheaper conversion rates than regular banks, TransferWise also provides local bank details for select countries. Customers from the USA, UK, Europe, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand also have access to a MasterCard debit card allowing withdrawals from ATMs and the ability to pay with the card in the local currency. Join our program today, just complete our 2-minute sign up form and you get instant access to your tracking links and affiliate resources.

Commission Structure: CPA based on partner performance. More for business account signups.

Referral Window/Tracking: Lifetime cookie window.

Best for: Any traveler, business or leisure.

Where you can find travel affiliate programs that suit your needs

Travel is an industry with literally hundreds of affiliate programs available to content creators like yourself. With a little bit of research, you can work out which affiliate marketing programs will work best for your specific niche/branding and start earning cash doing the thing you love.

We know that when you’re first starting out, signing up for multiple affiliate programs can be both overwhelming and time-consuming. So, a great way to access multiple affiliate programs in one place is to join an affiliate network that has access to thousands of different programs all in one place. Travelpayouts is a great example of a travel-based affiliate network, but there are others out there such as Partnerize and Impact Radius all of which can help you achieve your affiliate marketing goals.

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

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