The overall picture for Expedia, Inc. may be a bit cloudy and turbulent, but the opposite seems to be true for Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN), and more specifically, the business prospects for the thousands of travel affiliates that are members of  the online travel agency’s (OTA’s) affiliate network.

Expedia Affiliate Network has been on somewhat of a tear the last four months, re-jiggering programs with existing travel suppliers to sweeten deals for its travel affiliate partners, or teaming-up with a host of new travel suppliers from around the globe to beef-up their already impressive travel supplier network.  Here are just several examples of EAN’s affiliate push:

  • In April, EAN signed and a new long-term agreement with Hilton Hotels, and structured a new deal with Avis that offers travel affiliates new ‘white label’ car hire / rental car travel deals in some 12 European countries, as well as enabling Avis cars to be booked in tandem with Expedia hotel bookings (note: Expedia has more than 100,000 properties in its hotels database)
  • During March, Expedia Affiliate Network struck new private label distribution deals with the likes of  Turkish low-cost carrier (LCC) Pegasus Airlines, ‘green’ shopping and travel portal click4carbon and Australian airline Virgin Blue
  • Hotel bed bank extended their partnership with Expedia Affiliate Network in February; this agreement enables travel affiliates to book hotel inventory in four key Asia Pacific markets – Australia, New Zealand, Japan and India

These strategic initiatives are in support of Expedia’s goal of building a global travel brand.  Towards that end, a central element of their branding strategy is to leverage the sales capabilities of the tens of thousands of travel affiliates in its affiliate network, as well the approximately 10,000 private label partners across the globe, on their behest.

So far, Expedia’s strategy seems to be paying off quite handsomely: in a recent interview with the UK’s TravelWeekly, Tamer Tamar,  EAN’s Vice President and Managing Director EMEA, said that demand for its affiliate and private label solutions grew 50% in the first quarter of 2009 versus the same quarter in 2008.  Tamar went on to say…“In this economic climate it is more important than ever for businesses to look at the efficiency and profitability of their online offering. Partnerships with online experts, such as ourselves in the travel arena, is one way in which companies can look to monetise their website with little or no additional investment required.”

Travel Dividends couldn’t agree more with Tamar’s statement; in fact, we think that the current economic climate , together with the softening in demand that the OTAs like Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity are experiencing, makes for a particularly good opportunity for travel affiliates to flex their marketing muscle and make money.

If you have been working with Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, Priceline, Lastminute or any of the other OTAs that offer travel affiliate programs, we – and our readers – would very much like to hear from you.  How well have your programs performed?  Do you find the OTAs to be more proactive than in the past?  Are you looking to increase your time and budget in the OTA sector, or to retrench?  You can contact us here…Thanks!