1. I ran across some stunning statistics in Mobile in Travel 2009, a recent white paper on the impact of mobile on the travel industry…

  • 3.3 billion people actively us SMS; that’s over twice as many people as the 1.4 billion people that use the Internet
  • 2.5 times as many people send a text message than send an email
  • 700 million people use Instant Messenger, which is free, while 3.3 billion will happily pay to send a text message
  • 1.7 billion people have a credit card…3.3 billion can pay by SMS
  • Over 80% of mobile handsets now come with a built-in, 2-D bar code reader

…and a prediction: “The pay-per-click Google model will come to mobile, too.”

Mobile in Travel 2009 was sponsored by Travel Buddy, a leading UK-based provider of white label mobile content and communication systems for the travel industry.

While I take no exception with any of their statistics and can offer no compelling rationale to refute Travel Buddy’s forecast, I do not believe that the dawning of mobile travel commerce is upon us.  I’ve been hearing this mantra since 1997, and my sense is we’ll be hearing this same prediction for several more years before mobile will be an effective medium for travel commerce.

2. I think it’s terrific that there are now two conferences championing the affiliate marketing industry…the forthcoming The Affiliate Convention, scheduled for June 17th – 20th in Denver, joins industry beacon Affiliate Summit as the premier events for affiliate marketers, affiliate network executives and program managers, marketing, software and mobile technology executives and many others that work in the performance marketing industry.  I also think that the conference registration fee for affiliates is more than reasonably priced – it’s free! Where else would you see this kind of pricing except in the affiliate marketing industry!

We wish Webmaster Radio.fm, AffSpot.com and Ticonderoga Ventures, the owners of The Affiliate Convention, much success with their new venture.   Travel Dividends looks forward to seeing many of our readers in Denver!

3. I think I’d be very remiss in not applauding the folks who put together the program for The Affiliate Convention for including a module on affiliate marketing opportunities in travel – specifically, Industry Trends for Travel In the Current Economic Market: Where Affiliates Can Capitalize.  That’s the first affiliate marketing conference seminar I’ve seen specifically targeting the travel industry in quite a while.  I find it very puzzling that the world’s largest industry by most economic measures – as well as ranking among the four largest verticals in terms of sales in the online and affiliate marketing industries – gets such little attention by the affiliate marketing press, affiliate trade show organizers and affiliate marketing industry pundits.  Perhaps this seminar is a prelude of more travel related topics to come at future affiliate marketing conferences…

4. I think that someone will come up with a clever affiliate marketing angle that can both push the ideals of Green Tourism / Ecotourism while making money from the process.  I’m not sure who or when, but I’m fairly certain that it will happen; it’s too important an issue for the world at large – and too good of a financial opportunity – that some really bright marketer will latch onto sooner or later.

For a solid understanding of the critical economic, social and environmental importance, challenges and opportunities associated with Green/Eco Tourism, we suggest you check out the Center For Responsible Travel…and if you are really passionate about the health of our planet, perhaps you’ll even help out by making a donation to the Association.

5. I continue to think that the current economic environment presents a great opportunity for travel affiliate marketers to make money.  I know this is largely a contrarian view…just contrast my enthusiasm with that of other travel industry pundits.

Here’s what Ian Oakley-Smith, Director of Business Recovery Services with the global consulting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers had to say recently about how the travel industry will fare going forward:

“History shows that there has always been a strong correlation between total consumer spend and consumer spend on travel.  Travel businesses should therefore expect this trend to continue, which is likely to mean that spending on travel will decline for some time yet.”

“In the last recession, holidays were impacted at both volume and value levels. This is likely to recur and will take its toll on travel companies…The travel market has swollen with both supply and demand over the recent boom years, but we are now headed into a new reality.  2009 will be a journey of discovery to assess how deep the recession actually is and therefore how long it will impact travel.

He added: “The fundamentals suggest that demand will not return to the previously high levels, quickly.”

To my way of thinking, this spells opportunity for the nimble affiliate marketer.  I’d be curious in hearing from you whether you agree or disagree with my assessment.  Please send along your thoughts to me at Travel Dividends. Thanks!