You have probably heard about affiliate marketing programs for travel bloggers and wondered, ‘what exactly is that and why do I need to use them?’ This article breaks down exactly what affiliate marketing is and why it is important for travel bloggers and influencers.
I also dive into the differences between affiliate marketing networks and affiliate programs, the best affiliate marketing programs for travel bloggers, why you should use them, and a description of affiliate aggregators.
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a way of earning a passive income through your blog or website by recommending and linking to your favorite products or services and earning a commission for doing so.
By using specific affiliate links on your blog, click-throughs from those links can be tracked to a product or services webpage, and anything bought through that link is also tracked.
People who click on the affiliate link from your website to visit another website and end up making a purchase will earn you a small piece of the product or service’s value. Commissions range from 1% to 50% (or sometimes more) of the product, depending on the affiliate marketing program.
Why Should You Use Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a great way to earn a passive income from your blog or website by referring your readers to other companies to purchase products or services that you personally have experience using and recommend.
It is easy to use and means you can earn money from your blog by just having your website online and creating recommendations for your readers.
Affiliate Networks vs. Affiliate Programs
An affiliate network and affiliate programs can often be mistaken for the same thing, but the two are very different.
An affiliate program is a singular program associated with one company or brand, such as World Nomads Travel Insurance. The company works directly with the blogger or website owner to create affiliate links, and they work together for payment and commission rates.
On the other hand, an affiliate network works as a mediator between the blogger and the company. A network will work with hundreds or even thousands of companies offering affiliate marketing, and you will be able to choose which companies you would like to work with. Instead of applying to each companies program on their website, everything is located within one platform.
Affiliate networks also have access to other affiliate marketing programs for companies who don’t work with individuals and only allow affiliates through networks.
Some companies create their own networks if they own multiple brands and correlate them together into one affiliate program such as Expedia, which combines Expedia, VRBO (UK and USA), Hotels.com, eBookers, Travelocity, and Orbitz.
Considerations Before You Sign Up To An Affiliate Program
One of the most important factors to consider when deciding the best travel affiliate program for your blog is to consider your audience. What type of traveling do they do? Where are they likely to already make purchases? What are their interests?
For example, is you audience made up of budget travelers, luxury travelers, solo travelers? If you implement an affiliate program that doesn’t align with your audience, you are unlikely to get anyone to click on your link and make a purchase.
The second important thing to consider when choosing affiliate programs to sign up for is, have you used the company, service or product before? Do you have personal experience that you can share with your audience? If you don’t then it will make it harder for you to authentically share these recommendations with your followers and readers.
How Many Programs Should You Sign Up To?
One question you may have is how many affiliate programs should I sign up to to be profitable? My experience has shown me that focuses in on 1-2 or a small handful of affiliates at one time yields the best results. If you jump onto an affiliate aggregator and sign up to 100 different program it is highly unlikely you will be able to create an effective strategy to promote those affiliate products.
My preference is to choose a couple of affiliate programs and go all in on them. For example, in 2020 Airbnb opened up an affiliate program so I created a content strategy around this one affiliate creating 60+ affiliate focused Airbnb blog posts – this yielded excellent results quickly. First the content strategy demonstrated to Google we were an expert on this topic so we quickly got to #1 position on Google for lots of different search terms.
Secondly having lots of blog posts promoting this affiliate that also linked with other content on my travel blog meant I could cross promote these affiliate articles and get more readers to them.
What Happens If An Affiliate Program Shuts Down?
Sometimes this happens and there isn’t much you can do about it. In the example I just shared Airbnb subsequently shut down their program in March 2021. Instead of getting annoyed that I had created so many articles on this affiliate I looked for ways to still leverage this content.
Could I change out some of the links for an alternative program such as VRBO (mentioned below)? Could I switch on advertising so that I could get some ad revenue? Could I keep creating this content because everyone else stopped and from a traffic perspective I was getting a lot of views? Could you I be grateful for the many thousands of dollars I made during the period the program was open? Yes!
It can be frustrating if an affiliate program shuts down, but don’t let this deter you from going all in on a few programs as you will likely have the best results by building thoughtful affiliate focused content that helps your readers.
Top 11 Affiliate Programs For Travel Bloggers
Now you understand exactly what affiliate programs and networks are, lets get into the good stuff and share the ones I recommend for travel bloggers!
Hundreds of different travel companies have affiliate programs, but not all have the same benefits or percentages.
Each affiliate marketing program for travel bloggers has something different to offer. Some offer a percentage (percentage rates also vary), some offer a base commission and increase the percentage rates over time, others offer different cookie durations. So it’s important to fully understand the conditions of the platform before signing up to identify which is the best platform for your blog.
I have identified 11 of the best affiliate programs for travel bloggers to narrow down your search and make it easier to choose which one is best suited to you and your blog.
1) Get Your Guide
Get Your Guide is a great website where visitors can book tours, activities, and attraction tickets to anywhere in the world.
You can sign up as an affiliate and get access to an easy to use online portal where you can create individual links or widgets for activities and city guides. Everything is fully customizable to fit your audience, including which activities are featured in the widget. The portal has everything you need to set you up and succeed with their affiliate links, from guides on gaining the most click-throughs to where to place widgets on your website and everything in between.
Their portal also has an analytics section that shows the number of visitors, bookings, commissions, and income, along with conversion rates and all the other analytics you need.
This is one of my personal favorite affiliate programs because I have used Get Your Guide many times to book my own tours so I can vouch for the company, plus there are so many tour options for all types of travelers these affiliates are easy to include in existing posts as well as dedicated new affiliate focused blog posts.
Signing up is free and easy – you complete a simple form, and you are ready to start.
- 31 day cookie
- Base commission of 8%
- Add widgets and links
- Monthly payouts
VRBO is a vacation rental website that offers affiliate marketing links and widgets for travel bloggers. With these links, you can earn a 2% commission on bookings, and each link also has a 7-day tracking cookie.
On VRBO, you can create deep links for your website or widgets with searches that go directly through to properties.
VRBO is now part of the Expedia Group Affiliate Program, an online portal combined with Expedia, VRBO (UK and USA), Hotels.com, eBookers, Travelocity, and Orbitz. This has combined all the affiliates in one location, making it easy to organize and control within one website.
Signing up to VRBO is free and can be easily completed by filling in a form with your website information. Alternatively you can also sign up via CJ Affiliates.
- 7-day tracking cookie
- 2% commission on vacation rentals (excluding fees and taxes)
- Deep-link builder
- Widget builder
Expedia is one of the best affiliate programs for travel bloggers, with millions of hotels listed, 500 airlines, and over 175 car rental companies, along with package trips and cruises.
As Expedia is part of the Expedia Group Affiliate Program, an online portal combined with Expedia, VRBO (UK and USA), Hotels.com, eBookers, Travelocity, and Orbitz, making all of your affiliates easy to organize and control within one website.
Signing up is free and can be done by filling in a form with your website information and details.
- Up to 6% commission
- 7-day tracking cookie
- Hotels, Flights, Package trips, Cruises, Car rental, and activities
- Search widgets, deep-link builder, bookmarklet tool, package widgets, and hotel widget maps
As one of the best affiliate marketing programs for travel bloggers, Booking.com has over 2 million properties, and over 1.5 million bookings are made daily through the website.
Booking.com receives a commission of each booking from the hotel or rooms. With their affiliate program, you will earn a percentage of that booking commission. Commission starts at 25% for the first 1- 50 bookings, from 51- 150 bookings it increases to 30%. With 151 – 500 bookings, you receive 35% of the Booking.com commission, and for 501 or more bookings, it goes up to 40% of the commission.
The downside for Booking.com (and negative versus an Expedia for example) is that it only has a 1 day cookie. This means someone likely needs to book their hotel in the same session that they clicked on the link from your website – greatly reducing the chances you get credit for the sale. That being said I have been able to earn on average $1,500 – $2,000 per month from Booking.com, but my preference is to use an affiliate link with a tracking cookie.
It’s easy to sign up by completing a form with some basic details.
- 1 day cookie
- Commission starts at 25% of the commission Booking.com receives. Commission increases depending on the number of bookings completed up to 40%
- Support team
- Platform to keep track of earning and performance
- Payments are made up to one month after the booking has commenced
- Create widgets, deep links, map widgets, search boxes, banners, a WordPress plugin, and a deals finder through the affiliate program.
Skyscanner is one of the Internet’s most popular flight search tools, and it also has a great travel affiliate program.
It is one of the great affiliate marketing programs for travel bloggers as it has three different programs to choose from, each with its own requirements.
There is a free-to-use format that offers widgets and buttons, although it isn’t monetized. The next format is an affiliate network (monetized) with its own entry requirements depending on traffic sources and activities. The third format is a monetized direct partnership. This is done on case-to-case approval based on traffic and market-level strategies and is monetized based on conversion and traffic quality.
The commission is paid based on the rates set by the affiliate network for the affiliate network program. For the direct partnership, the commission is based upon conversion and traffic quality.
In my opinion, commission on flights is low so while I do use this affiliate and integrate links where they make sense it is not a priority affiliate on my travel blog.
To sign up, you have to be approved, and it can take up to one month for approval to be finalized.
- 30 day cookie
- 20% commission (up to 50%)
- Flights, Car Hire, and Hotels
- Flight widgets, deep links, banners, and travel API
- Commission based on rates set by the affiliate network or the quality of traffic and conversion
Priceline is an online travel agency that deals with hotel bookings, car rentals, cruise bookings, flights, and package holidays.
The website has a travel affiliate program that rewards referrals with a 3 and 5% commission. The program includes an API connection and a private label.
You can fill out the form to join with some of your personal and website emails.
- 30 day cookie
- 3 – 5% commission
- Hotels, Flights, Packages, Insurance, and Car Rental
- 24/7 Customer support
- Over 70,000 properties
Viator is an easy-to-use travel booking service, offering over 345,000 things to do, top destinations, and tours.
Its affiliate marketing programs for travel bloggers allow for affiliate links using the ‘create a link tool,’ and they have a 30-day cookie (yay!). You can earn an 8% commission on bookings made through the links and embedded widgets. Links can be made to destinations (e.g., a specific destination), product pages, and categories.
It’s easy and free to sign up using the form on the website.
- 30 day cookie
- 8% commission
- Self-service dashboard
- Affiliate links and widgets
- Easy-to-use and high conversion site
8) World Nomads
World Nomads is a travel insurance company created and run by travelers for travelers. They offer travel insurance for residents of over 130 countries.
Their affiliate marketing programs for travel bloggers are a great way to earn commission from referring readers and viewers to their site to book travel insurance.
World Nomads is a great affiliate program for travel bloggers to incorporate the need and importance of travel insurance while also giving information about a destination or travel planning. They also have lots of articles about travel safety which you can link back to using your referral links.
The World Nomads Partner Program has a simple application form and is free to join.
- 60 Day cookie
- 10% commission
- Easy and simple to use
- Unlimited referrals
- Free to join
- No fixed term contract
- Commissions on every sale
Agoda is an alternative hotel, villa, flight, and airport transfer booking website. With over 2 million properties all around the world. This website is more popular with Asian markets as most North Americans and Europeans stick with Booking.com.
The affiliate program works on an increasing commission basis; the more bookings you refer for one month, the higher commission you will receive – varying from 4% to 7%. For example, on a booking of $200 with a commission rate of 5%, you will receive $10.
For between 1-50 bookings a month, the commission rate is 4%, and the commission rate increases up to 7% for over 999 bookings per month.
Agoda’s free tolls include hotel data files, text links, search boxes, and banners, all customizable.
The sign-up process is simple and can be started by completing a form with personal details and creating a password.
- Increasing commission rates
- Hotel Power Ads
- Easy to set up and use promotional tools
- Available in 38 languages
- Full support team
- Deep analytic data on the dashboard
10) Travel Payouts
Another affiliate marketing program for travel bloggers is Travel Payouts. This affiliate program is more of a network of travel affiliates all in one place.
With affiliate programs within flight programs, tours, hotels, insurance, and everything else travel, this network has over 80 different affiliate programs to choose from. Some of the affiliate programs included in Travel Payouts are The Train Line, Hilton Honors, Trivago, TUI, Viator, Booking.com, Rail Europe, and more.
Each affiliate has its own commission rate ranging from 1% to 5% and higher. Travel Payouts payout 70% of their commission, so for example, on Get Your Guide, if you sign up to them directly, you start at a commission rate of 8% through Travel Payouts; your commission rate is 7%.
Travel Payouts is a great program for combining all of your affiliate programs in one place. They also offer a landing page builder, banners, links, White label, widgets, API, and a WordPress plugin, all available in 60 languages and customizable.
It’s free to sign up by completing the short form with your website information and details.
- Over 80 different affiliates
- Different cookie durations
- Earn from 1% commission and higher
- Keeps all your affiliates on one platform
- Large cookie durations from one session to 30 days
- Access to affiliates you might not be able to sign up to otherwise
- Available in 60 languages
11) Amazon Associates
One of the best affiliate programs for travel bloggers is Amazon Associates because the variety of products recommended is unlimited. You can craft blogs around essential items to pack for a trip and have an affiliate link for every item. Or do the same with a travel gifts article, different destination packing articles, and even book or electronics recommendations.
Their affiliate program has millions of products you can recommend, and through the platform, they have customized linking tools tailored to bloggers and influencers. They even have an Amazon Influencer Program specifically for social media.
Travel bloggers can earn up to 10% commission from purchases or programs.
Amazon is great for travel bloggers as not only will you earn a commission on the products you are recommending, you will also earn a commission on everything a customer purchases through your link – their entire basket. For example, if you recommend a travel backpack and someone clicks through your affiliate link to purchase the backpack and purchases a water bottle, hard drive, or other products simultaneously, you earn a commission of the entire purchase.
Each application is reviewed, and if your blog or website meets the qualifying standards, it will be accepted. There is a minimum number of purchases necessary within the first three months to keep your affiliate program.
- Earn up to 10% commission on every purchase
- The commission varies depending on the product category from 1% to 10%
- Easy to use link building tools
The abovementioned affiliate programs are just a handful of the different options out there, and there are more to choose from. I personally have had success with these, but I recommend that you look at a few different programs to find the ones that best match with your content and your audience.
Here are a couple of other options to look at:
- Hotels.com and Trivago – Up to 50% commission
- Hotels Combined (Kayak) – Get paid for clicks, or “leads” instead of sales. 365 day cookie.
- Kayak, Momondo and CheapFlights
- Trip Advisor
- Accor Hotels – Range of commission is from 1.5% up to 10%
- Marriot Hotels
Another way to use affiliate programs is through affiliate aggregators, these are singular platforms that contain lots of different programs within one platform. There is only one platform and software to figure out how to use, along with one place for analytics and consolidated payment.
Along with constant tracking and amply information, affiliate aggregators also provide users with resources if a dispute over sales occurs.
Some affiliate aggregators can have access to thousands of affiliate programs in a large variety of niches so you will find lots of inidviudal travel products and services through some of these aggregators. .
Some examples of affiliate aggregators are the following:
Now you should have an idea about 1) Affiliate marketing platforms, 2) The difference between affiliate networks and programs and 3) The best affiliate programs for travel bloggers.
The great thing about these platforms is that you can find one that suits your niche and aligns with your blog and target audience.
If you start using affiliate marketing programs, you will begin earning a small commission from your audience and community within your blog posts and recommendations, a great way to start earning a passive income!
I hope you found this article helpful to understand more about affiliate marketing programs for travel bloggers and why you should use them. If you have any questions about affiliate marketing, drop them in the comments.
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