Question: What do British Airways, Avis Car Rental, Expedia, Carnival Cruise Line, Funjet, InterContinental Hotels, Occidental Hotels, and RIU Hotels and Resorts have in common?  Answer: Each travel supplier has a significant amount of distressed inventory, and all look to their travel affiliate partners to help offload it.

Read any travel industry newswire, visit any travel supplier website or do a ‘travel deals’ search on Google and you’ll see that deeply discounted travel offerings seem to be everywhere these days.  When travel suppliers have excess inventory, they reduce their prices, often dramatically.  Although most suppliers seek to sell their product or service on their own web site, the savvier players know that to sell their product quickly, they need the help of travel affiliate marketers.  Travel affiliate marketers have proven time and again that they are unparalleled in their ability to quickly turn distressed travel inventory into cash – both for themselves and their supplier partners.

The breadth and depth of a travel supplier’s product discounts and marketing promotions will vary widely based on local market and competitive dynamics. Here are just a few examples of travel deals that are currently available to travel consumers from the travel suppliers mentioned at the beginning of this post:

  • British Airways (BA) is offering a special ‘2 for 1′ round-trip Club World business class airfare between the U.S and London from 18 U.S. gateways. For example, the one-way New York JFK to London Heathrow fare (including all applicable taxes and facility charges) for BA’s famous ‘lie-flat bed’ starts at $2,618, which means the effective per person price is an astounding $1,309! What makes this an even more spectacular bargain is that this air fare is effective during the peak travel season, June 01 through October 31! If you’re not a British Airways travel affiliate, visit LinkShare to sign-up for BA’s travel affiliate program.
  • Avis Rent A Car is offering travelers 20% off on any 3 day or longer rental at participating locations throughout Europe, the Middle East and South Africa. Like British Airways, this promotion is valid June 1st – October 31st. Full details on this and other elements and features of Avis’ travel affiliate program are available here.
  • Expedia, the world’s largest Online Travel Agency, is offering a free room night with every 3, 4 or 5 consecutive room nights booked at over 1,334 Expedia Special Rate hotels in its database. This limited time promotion is subject to bookings made prior to May 31st, with travel completed by June 15 2009 (though we suspect that the yield management gurus at Expedia will likely replace this with a similar program come mid-June). Details about Expedia’s Special Rate offer can be found here, and here’s the OTA’s travel affiliate program link.
  • Carnival Cruise Lines is offering a “Cash In On Sweet Sailings” program where travelers can receive a cash back award ranging from $50 per person for a 3-4 day cruise, $75 per person for a 5 day cruise and up to $120 per person cash back reward for 6, 7 and 8 day cruises (all cash-back offers are based on double occupancy). Click here for Carnival’s Cash-Back’ program, or to sign-up as a Carnival travel affiliate, go to Commission Junction.
  • Funjet, the largest tour operator in the U.S., offers exclusive WOW” deals to travelers on its website. These self-described “best of the best” deals are released by Funjet every 2 weeks, and each has very limited inventory; as such they could disappear virtually as fast as they are put up! Most of the deals are available through December 15th, 2009 unless noted otherwise.For example, we saw a package featuring the 4.5 star all-inclusive Gran Caribe Real Cancun hotel with flight offered at $349 per person, some 55% off the original package price of $829. If Antigua is more up your alley, a 3 night stay at the 3.5 star all-inclusive Grand Pineapple Beach Resort (including air) is available for $954, also 55% less than the original package price of $2,199 per person.Here’s the link for Funjet’s “WOW Deals”; to sign-on to Funjet’s travel affiliate program, click here.
  • InterContinental Group is offering a “Get A Free Night” program which includes all of the Group’s properties, including Intercontinental Hotels, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Hotel Indigo. Unlike the more traditional ‘2 for 1′ programs, InterConti’s program is unique in that it is not tied to weekend stays (which many other hotels programs require), and more importantly, travelers can stay 2 nights at any of the Group’s hotels between now and July 3, 2009 (nights do not need to be consecutive). That threshold, in turn, earns the traveler a coupon for a free night’s stay good until December 26, 2009. A maximum of 4 free nights can be earned during the promotion.To view the details of the Get a Free Night”, click here; to enroll as an Intercontinental Hotels travel affiliate, go their website.
  • Not be outdone by their competitors, two other top Caribbean, Mexican and Spanish resort chains are also offering terrific discounts…
  • Occidental Hotels & Resorts is offering “Spring into Summer” program, which offers discounted room rates with up to 55% savings at its hotels in Aruba, Costa Rica, Mexico & the Dominican Republic. Here’s the link for the “Spring into Summer” program details; to become an Occidental Hotels travel affiliate, click here.

    – RIU Hotels and Resorts is discounting its nine all-inclusive Mexican properties by more than 40% through June 25th. Starting as low as $146 per room per night, double occupancy (including taxes and fees), all packages include 24-hour food and drinks, gym access, free child care in the supervised kids’ club, and all other activities except spa services and motorized water sports. Not a RIU travel affiliate today? Then visit Affiliate Future or ShareASale to get membership information and more.

Travel products and services literally ‘fly off the shelf’ during good economic times, as consumers generally splurge on their family vacations; in poor or uncertain times, while some folks may be forced out of the travel market, most of the remaining consumers will not put off their vacations.  However, they will look for – and buy – bargains.

That’s why TravelDividends sees many of our travel affiliate friends (and even some travel suppliers) reaping big sales these last few months…they know how to sell value in a down market.  How about you…how has your travel portfolio performed?  Is your business doing better, about the same or worse than the same period last year?  If it’s up, is it because you’ve leveraged the tremendous deals that are in the marketplace, or because of certain strategic or tactical changes that you’ve made in your campaigns?  If business is lagging last year’s performance, what do you think is the cause of that, and more importantly, what do you think you can do to change it?

As always, TravelDividends appreciate hearing from our readers.  Let us know your thoughts and suggestions…Thanks!