READ this – Airline & All other Travel Affiliates

I know you have heard about this…….

This shit has been going on since the 70′s.

Airlines hate their distribution system with a passion usually saved for ex-mother in laws.   And now, the siblings  American Airlines and its reservations system Sabre could not make it through the family Christmas party without getting drunk and throwing insults – and then punches.

Anyone running Travel Affiliate Programs knows that almost every trip starts with Airfare (unless you are doing hotels in local drive markets).

That means that American Airlines actions can affect you.

In some ways its good.  Without Expedia/Orbitz/Sabre’s access to AA fares, competition from them in heavy AA markets (Caribbean, London) will drop.

But if you are dependant on AA to bus your traffic to their destinations and the other airlines don’t have much in the way of lift, you have trouble.   If you notices, flights are full.   Not because more people are flying, but because the number of flights into most areas have dropped dramatically.

So,  Questions to ask yourself:

1.  How do people get to my product?

ie….Air/Rail/Bus – yuck/Water/Car/Walk

2.  Is my product supplier dependant on AA airfares?

ie….Expedia/Orbitz/Priceline/OneTravel/Farebuzz etc

3.  Is ‘Their’ product supplier dependant on airfares?

ie…Sabre/Amadeus/ITA/Pegasus etc

4.  Are your customers AA Frequent Flyers?

because……they are getting bombed with direct sell propoganda (I am)

5. Are your customers Corporate travelers?

……..corp travel departments are pissed and ‘may’ sell away from AA or stop traveling for a short while.

6.  Can you drop your Affiliate Commission % and still survive?

……WTF, its only $2.00 per booking now!!!

Here is a link to a good review of the problem from Travel Weekly.

And here is another from Peter Greenburg that we found interesting.

CheapCaribbean – They are Smart

Ok,  I can’t help it, I like these guys and girls.

If there is anyone in Travel Affiliate Programs that has their marketing down, its this team.

I know because they kick my butt occasionally.  They get some insane pricing

But they have an ace up their sleeve.   CheapCaribbean is aligned (not sure how deeply aligned) with the tour operator, Inter-Island Tours.   Inter-Island has been around for a while and as a everyone in travel knows, tour operators buy their product from 20%  – 35% off resort rates and sell through travel agents, paying them between 10% (if you suck) to 16%+ if you can sell.

So, if your sweetie is a tour operator, you just might get some more margin to play with.  Hypothetically of course.

This is what all of us would do if had the nerve to invest in both a Tour Operator and support a call center.

But I have been there, done that.    And now I prefer to make my money from a lounge chair and a laptop in Jamaica – using really good Travel Affiliate Programs.

The Skinny:

Network…………..  CJ…(the CJ info is below)  FlexOffers

Their Program ….. CheapCaribbean Affiliate Program

Affiliate Manager..None inhouse that I am aware of

Product.……………Cruises, Caribbean Resorts & Hotels & Packages

Commission ……..5%

EPC ………………….. 3 month is $107 and 7 day is $47.  30 day trend is stable

Bidding ……………..No trademark bidding.

Marketing ………….No trademark bidding

Direct Linking…….No

Data Feed………….No

Link Options……..Text, Banners, Smartlinks.  Lots of them.

Benefits……………..None

Cookies ……………1Day.   That’s cuz if you don’t close them quick…..They will

Payment.………….. CJ and FlexOffer rules apply.  CJ locks on the 10th of the month

Hint…………………These guys know how to market online.   I would not do a Paid Search play.  If you have …

Bookit.com – Look carefully

I bring Bookit to your attention for 2 reasons.

They have great technology and very competitive pricing.  If you are going to play in the world of Travel Affiliate Programs you need to watch these guys.

They built a back end  on there booking engine that allows Merchants to add their own product and pricing.   So during times of heavy discounting (like now) – a Merchant can get some traction quickly by dropping the price in real time.

I am not suggesting this is a good program.   They don’t pay enough and they exclude Packages and Cruises (which I don’t understand at all).

But do take the time to know your competition if you are using WTC, WWTE, CheapCaribbean or any of the OTA’s.   We watch these guys closely.

The Skinny:

Network…………… Pepperjam – Check out their Homepage Hotties

Affiliate Manager..Mandy Foley from Bookit

Product.……………

Premium Hotels  -  These are mostly resorts that are all inclusive.

3rd Party Hotels – these are the chains like the Sheratons, Holiday Inns etc

Car Rentals – They did not list any.

Commission ……..6% on Premium Hotel Bookings

…………………………..3% on 3rd Party Hotel Bookings

…………………………..2% on Car Rentals

…………………………..NOTE – They don’t pay on Packages, Flights or Cruises ???  WTF???

EPC ………………….. A heinous   $0.83

Bidding ……………..No trademark bidding.   And be careful of their “Suggested Keywords”.  They are the most expensive and most generic keywords in travel.

Marketing ………….They are restricting email marketing for some reason.  Its approved on a case by case basis.

Direct Linking…….Yes

Data Feed………….No

Link Options……..Text, Banners and Pepperjam throws in some.   They have a number of them.

Benefits……………..None

Cookies ……………60 Days

Payment.………….. Pepperjam rules apply

Hint…………………If you decide to check them out, check out your keywords.  They market VERY heavily online.   Run Spyfu and go where they ain’t.

As always – If you have a Travel Affiliate …

Magellan’s – Get the Straits scoop

Poor Ferdinand……..If he had just avoided that group of testy Filipino’s he would have lived to become the first official SuperAffiliate.   He was off’d trying to sell Christianity to the pagans via a broken link.

All they received were 404 pages.   Amex canceled his Black card and the rest is history.

But late adopters recognized his contribution and fired up one of the best Travel Accessories Affiliate Program known to exist.

Say that 3 times fast.

Hit the Magellan’s Travel Supplies HomePage and you will know why……….they carry some very cool stuff.

In fact, I am headed to Jamaica next week to do some video and clicked through our Magellan link to see what was new.

I immediately keyed in on the chick in the N95 Breathing mask rubbing the moist “Nice N’ Clean Towelettes” all over herself.   I figure a couple of snorts off the Jack Daniels I included in my 4 x 3oz = 12oz survival kit and she won’t need her “Nano-UV Scanner”.

Hint:  If you want to Fly High……Check out the Pack-It Liquid/Gel set.    There are four, 3 oz bottles in a handy carrying case.   Fill those puppies with your liquid of choice and you have 12 oz of friendliness that makes it through customs every time.    Make sure the caps are on tight and Fly at your own risk.

Hint 2:  If you are buying retail, shame on you.  Even if you have no traffic, throw up a page and get your family, friends, enemies etc… to by through your Aff link…..

Ok…..back to Magellan’s Travel Supplies (no I am not keyword stuffing yet)

Magellan’s Travel Supplies is time traveler tested.   Nothing they sell is garbage.

The Skinny:

Network…………… GAN

EPC

TravelSmith – Polly Ester’s Fall Collection

Back again,  much to the dismay of the corporate Klingons.

A Klingon beard is a symbol of courage.  What happens if you wax?

But I digress.    Today we are going deep undercover to explore the benefits of the TravelSmith Affiliate Program.

I know………When you hit the Landing Page you think…..WTF…..a week in these clothes and I would smell like a Sumo Wrestler’s diaper.

Au Contraire polyester haters………These clothes rock.  They’re not poly…..they’re “MicroFiber”  Something you can wear with pride!

When you wake up in TSmith threads – face down in the surf after a night of rocking the Karaoke machine at the Greenhouse,……… you and your horse teeth will still be stylin.   Just add Rayban’s and a look of superiority and you will be back in the game.

I used to manage a tourism information service for the United States Virgin Islands.

With such heinous responsibilities came the requirement to spend 2 weeks a month working with the various tourism authorities.     Which is just about every person on the island.   Their GNP consists of importing pasty pleasure seekers and exporting sunburnt zombies.

So,  on my first trip I arrived fresh from Connecticut in my 3 piece wool blend Brooks Bros ensemble.

In August.

I knew I was in trouble at the airport when I rolled in all spit-shined and the zombies were dressed differently. Undetered, (aka uneducated) I met my handlers and was ushered to a dinner meeting.   It was beautiful.    The sun was going down.   The Painkillers were flowing.   This was going to be heaven.    My next meeting was at 10:00am with the Commish of Tourism.    So I politely excused myself and reposed.

I rolled out the next morning at 9:00 and decided that my destination was just a mile away – and wouldn’t it be a beautiful sunny day for a walk……….a mile walk.

Only …

Momma’s got a Brand New eBag………

Greetings,

Today we are going to review eBags.com’s Luggage Affiliate Program.

A quick look at the surfer volume for “luggage” using your Keyword Tool of choice shows a massive amount of traffic.

I grabbed Google’s new Keyword Tool (check out the new beta interface, very cool) for a quick check and Goog showed 7.4M monthly searches.  That number quickly drops when you add longtails.

A quick competitor check showed that attacking this market head on would be worse than Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg.   With and EPC of $20 and CPC of at least .60 you would be way underwater – unless your conversion rate was high.

BUT,

An affiliate that still has money in the bank never attacks head on.

We use eBags.com very effectively as an upsell, cross-sell and even a downsell at checkout.  Since about 70% of the people who actually purchase travel are women, and what woman can pass up a chance to add a cute new rolly to her collection. (one that will actually fit down the cramped plane aisle without tearing her arms off from hooking seats and feet – Sorry, Sorry, Excuse Me, Sorry, My Bad, Sorry).

Hint: Take a lesson from the internet marketing gurus.   Sell your travel package first, get the credit card and then start your upselling.   Adding an eBag to an existing sale is way easier than followup autoresponder sequences.

The Skinny:

Network………….CJ

Commission ……9% to 20% based on volume and brands

Conversion%……..4.4%

Link Options…….Text/Banner.   They have a number of them

Benefits…………..110% Low Price Guarantee, Free Shipping, Coupons, Hot Deals

Keywords.……….Just eBags and its misspellings

Cookies …………45 Days

Support………….We have found it to be very good.  And they have a simple StoreBuilder to play with

You have a number of other options in the Luggage niche.   LuggageGuru, Luggage Pros and Irv’s all have as good or better EPC.     Our researchers …

Who Let the Cars out ……Woof Woof

While our research team here at TD is Euro lounging and sipping cocktails with scantily clad Suits, I have been left behind to keep the lights on and fool the Google bots into thinking someone is home.

Since I am an Affiliate, that may have been a mistake.

Today we are giving props to one of the best Travel Affiliate Programs around.   I know, because I worked with this company for years and they are the best.

Let me introduce you to www.AutoEurope.com.

If you are considering an International Car Rental affiliate program you need to check out this Team’s program.

And they are a Team.   Their focus on support is second to none.   Your customers are handled with Kid Gloves and so are you.

Here is the skinny:

AutoEurope rents cars all over the world, including the US.    Don’t let the AutoEurope name fool you. They also rent toys – cell phones, GPS’ – and Air/Hotel/Concierge………anything your customers will need.

Their Technology……their LZ’s and booking engine work smoothly and simply.

Support…………………is 24/7 handled in Portland, Maine.   Right down on the water across from the Ferry in a very cool old school brick building, with exposed beams.   The place should be an art museum.

The Sales agents……if customers have a question, they will get the answer.  They are the best in the Travel industry.   If they can’t close your customer, they can’t be closed.

Reporting……………..is real time, online, and accurate.

Payments……………..you earn on everything.  Cars, Cell Phones, GPS, Hotels and even airfare.   Cars are paid 2 weeks after dropoff.   Air, Hotel, Cell etc are paid bi-weekly

Sales Tools………….Specials, Upgrades and sales promotions abound.   You can even win Lobsters.

Cookie Period……..Negotiate, sales talk

Linking Options…..They have everything from White Label and XML feeds to standard links/banners etc.

Anything Else?………Just ask and you shall receive.   They love sales and will make …

Expedia Says Down and Travelocity Says Up, So Who Should Travel Affiliates and Suppliers Believe?

Travel affiliates and suppliers reading Expedia’s and Travelocity latest year-end forecasts d will have to decide which online travel agency has ‘got it right’.  In its fall Travel Trendwatch issue, Expedia.com depicts a rosy picture for price-driven travel consumers looking to book both air and hotels, while in its most recent data report, Travelocity shows more of a mixed bag, suggesting that airline capacity cuts have begun to not only stem – but reverse – the airline industry’s downward pricing slide, though they expect year-over-year hotel and resort price declines this fall will be still deeper compared to summer’s declines.

In a nutshell, here’s what each online travel agency (OTA) projects for the travel industry as we begin to wind-down 2009.

Expedia suggest that “…Travel prices will not skyrocket this fall, despite some reports.  There will be plenty of hotel and vacation package deals in the U.S. and abroad as average daily hotel rates (ADRs) and average package prices remain lower than last fall.”

Due to lower jet fuel prices and the strength of the U.S. dollar, Travel Trendwatch notes that airfares to …

Roll-Out of Sandals Resorts’ Luxury Local Activities Division Offers Ancillary Revenue Opportunities to Travel Affiliates

After several months in stealth mode, Sandals Resorts rolled-out its integrated tour division, Island Routes Luxury Adventure Tours, and travel affiliates are well positioned to generate incremental ancillary revenue by selling their customers tours and excursions that spotlight the history, people and attractions of each island where the deluxe resort firm operates.

TravelDividends first reported in our May 15th blog post that Adam Stewart, the CEO and owner of Sandals Resorts and its sister company, Beaches Resorts, was creating a new strategic business unit aimed at providing customers at his – as well as other Jamaican and Caribbean island hotels and resorts – with access to the finest selection of off-property island activities, travel experiences and events.

According to Dominique Peterkin, general manager of Island Routes, each activity and experience selected for inclusion in the Island Routes program must first go through a comprehensive and rigorous vetting and certification process.  Passing the tour operator’s Certified Partner Program ensures that clients staying at a Sandals or Beaches property are then presented with a choice of only the “best-of-the-best” island activities and excursions, says Peterkin.

Although Island

Travel Affiliates Can Score Points with Virgin Vacations and the NFL

Travel affiliates have lots of opportunities to ‘score’ by selling package tours; Virgin Vacations, together with official NFL events packager NFL On Location, have joined the fray by offering travel affiliates a niche revenue-producing opportunity.

As every football addict knows, the NFL plays one game annually in Europe, and this year’s contest is slated for London’s Wembley Stadium on October 25th, where the New England Patriots will battle the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Now in its third year, the International Series, as the game is officially known, is quite popular among both British ‘American football’ enthusiasts as well as American gridiron fans.  But because Virgin Vacations is now the ‘official’ tour packager for the event, the game arguably takes on a similar distinction for travel affiliates because they can sell this game as a travel package through Virgin Vacations’ travel affiliate program.

Here’s ‘the line’ on this special and customizable tour package offered by Virgin VacationsNFL On Location:

  • The core package, which is priced from $1,899 per person out of New York, provides travelers with game tickets, access to