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  1. #1
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    So...What's wrong with hotel affiliate programs?
    .
    As you may guess, from our poll about the right domain name, Jill and I are beginning to build a "hotels" affiliate program.

    We would appreciate your input in helping us put it all together; and thinking that avoiding the negatives may be a good thing to consider. Please share your thoughts about what you don't like about the majority of current programs offerings.

    I'll start:
    • Takes too long to get paid - must wait for the "billing cycle to complete AFTER the reservation is completed (which may be months in the future).
    • High cancellation rate (Industry averages nearly 30% cancellations, no-shows, non-pay by hotel, and all kinds of other "excuses")
    • Involved with most/many of the "parasite" affiliates out there (Ebates, Upromise, OneCause, etc.)


    Please post below what else may keep you from joining/promoting such an affiliate program. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
    .
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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  2. #2
    Outsourced Program Manager Chris -  AMWSO's Avatar
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    Hi Bill,

    Number of thoughts

    - Massively competitive, probably more so than most sectors I have seen, and a lot of "business" style affiliates involved too
    - SERPs are dominated by hotel booking aggregation sites that spend a lot of money on running and managing lots and lots of domains.
    - A lot of affiliate programs are for booking aggregation sites/systems rather than directly for the hotels themselves. Commissions stated are bloated, a lot of these state very high commissions such as 50% when they mean 50% of the "their" commission, which is usually around 10% of the booking fee, or sometimes even just 10% of the first night
    - Yep cancellation issues.

    I'd be aiming for a hotel program that offers something like a fixed commission per booking and offers a no cancellation offer on commissions... but I'd be biased on that suggestion...

    Cheers

    Chris
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  3. #3
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    I would like to see a program like "Fairfield Gateway" which was managed by Eric Ewe(I think?) at LS a couple years back. They provide hotel+activities+meals+entertainment packages for many interesting US vacation spots. The program offers $10 fix commission per booking. I was doing very well with them back then. Unfortunately, they closed the program. So far, I haven't found any similar program that converts nearly close to it.

    Bill, I would love to join/promote your "hotel" program if you could build a similar one.

  4. #4
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    "Fairfield Gateway" which was managed by Eric Ewe
    That was a lead gen program for time shares and not a true hotel program.

    Most hotel programs do not allow deep linking to the individual properties. Working on a launch to combat that on CJ for next quarter.

    Hotel affiliates have to invest a lot of time and money to get their sales going. The long payment cycle requires a good cash flow. Vegas hotels are very lucrative but you have to have deep pockets to finance PPC. If you don't intend to allow PPC for affiliate you will recuse your top producers.

  5. #5
    E-Commerce Manager darrenz's Avatar
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    I was just investigating a few different hotel aff. programs but decided against it when I researched a few small towns and cities in my local area and saw the huge competition in organic and PPC listings, most of them were larger corporate hotel, motel and travel sites like tripadvisor and roadsideamerica.

    Maybe I would consider it more seriously if I were already in the travel niche.

  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager ParadigmWilliam's Avatar
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    Some affiliate programs charge more to the customer if they go through your link. Orbitz is terrible for this.
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  7. #7
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ParadigmWilliam View Post
    Some affiliate programs charge more to the customer if they go through your link. Orbitz is terrible for this.
    There are different factors that go into hotel rates. The merchant rate (or net-rate) product, which began over ten years go (pioneered, in part by the two brothers who started lodging.com) has made it possible for some sites, even through an affiliate program, to offer better prices than the hotel, itself can offer. Weird, but that's the way it works.

    There are also several approaches to selling hotel rooms, be they retail or merchant rate. One that I tend to like is selling the "right hotel" in the "right location." If the prices are not too far out of line, some customers (evidently) do not go out to comparison shop for the absolute best rates. That is our target market.

    Coincidentally, yesterday while I was out "flying" to meet a business colleague for lunch, we had a booking for a hotel nearly at "show central" for the Ocean City Air Show (Maryland) for the first weekend in June. That was for one room for three nights and, with taxes, came to almost $1000 - at a Courtyard by Marriott, normally a mid-priced hotel. Location and timing made that nice sale - not comparison shopping.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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  8. #8
    Merchant & ABW Ambassador
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    Quote Originally Posted by mayfly View Post
    I would like to see a program like "Fairfield Gateway" which was managed by Eric Ewe(I think?) at LS a couple years back. They provide hotel+activities+meals+entertainment packages for many interesting US vacation spots. The program offers $10 fix commission per booking. I was doing very well with them back then. Unfortunately, they closed the program. So far, I haven't found any similar program that converts nearly close to it.
    Hi mayfly,

    The Fairfield Getway aka Wyndham Vacation Resorts program was pretty neat and did convert well. Unfortunately, the program closed and eventually everybody from broadcast to ecommerce hitting the pavement looking for a new career. Chuck is rite, it is a lead gen program but it focused on value for customers which did well in the 2001-02 recession.

    Checkout
    InterContinental Hotels Group (Intercontinental hotel/resorts to Holiday Inn) on CJ as they have a pretty decent EPC (30 days and 7 days). If you look for IC Hotel Group on here, you might be able to find their a/c manager's name to get more info. It was from an "issue" that I reported about them when a client was with me and that ended up with her posting on here. Eventhing sorted out eventually on good terms. I am not an affiliate of their program but just stating the EPC facts.

  9. #9
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    @ Eric and mayfly. Thank you both for adding to the conversation. By coincidence, just this morning I had a conference call with one fulfillment company that we've been trying on a city site. When we stated using them we did fairly will with those "packages" of items related to hotel stays in Baltimore. We could book dinner cruises and, say, a tour of the Babe Ruth Baseball Museum along with a weekend hotel stay. But last summer and fall those types of deals fell off considerably. The phone topic was how the "company" was refocusing efforts to make up for what seemed a general change in buyers habits.

    So, mayfly, sorry, but for now at least, we won't pursue that type of arrangement for our new hotels program. But our "supplier" will be able to provide some of that functionality in the near future - if those sales begin to rebound.
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick
    ......Most hotel programs do not allow deep linking to the individual properties......
    Thank you for your comments, Chuck. We will have deep linking available - right from the git-go - wouldn't have it any other way(). Banners and text links just don't cut it for the niche sites we will be targeting. Also, we will allow PPC for any aff who may be interested or so inclined.

    @ Chris - AMWSO. Thanks for reaffirming those points. Yes, "Massively competitive...and...SERPs are dominated by hotel booking aggregation sites." Absolutely agree with that. But there is still plenty of room for long tail SERP results. (For example, my main beach site will get SERP results for over 15,000 different keyphrases in a given month.)

    Your comment that, "A lot of affiliate programs are for booking aggregation sites/systems rather than directly for the hotels themselves." will certainly "fit." That's what we will be. However we won't be touting that misleading commission structure in the example you gave. I agree that is something that hurts this type of program. We will use a payment schedule similar to what you described so our affiliates (assuming we attract any) will not have to worry about "waiting" or the inevitable "cancellations, no-shows and non-payments" that can make anticipated commissions disappear.

    Maybe I need to start a thread asking affiliates what they would like to see in a hotels affiliate porgram.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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  10. #10
    Merchant & ABW Ambassador
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    Bill, for hotels to undertake the package, it can be often time consuming and also costly. And in cases where if they would to undertake it, those are usually shows that they already host in their hotel or something where it is a sister company, etc.

    Companies that take on this are usually destination city hotels, casinos, golf course resorts, vacation rental properties or timeshare resorts.

  11. #11
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Ewe View Post
    Bill, for hotels to undertake the package, it can be often time consuming and also costly. And in cases where if they would to undertake it, those are usually shows that they already host in their hotel or something where it is a sister company, etc.

    Companies that take on this are usually destination city hotels, casinos, golf course resorts, vacation rental properties or timeshare resorts.
    Thanks for your posts in this thread, Eric. I appreciate your input. We would not, however, be dealing with hotels directly. Our aff program would be set up (as I have been doing for 10 years) through a consolidator. We have a good fulfillment source where we can act as a reseller - with the ability to package the reservation system in, what we hope to be, an affiliate-friendly manner. We don't plan to market to site owners that are "huge and national" in scope - that's for the high-level XML developers in company-sized web shops. We intend to focus, instead, on niche destination sites, bloggers, websites about attractions, festivals, etc.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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  12. #12
    Full Member OICUAM2's Avatar
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    Would it be possible to have trackable phone numbers similar to what Ring Revenue is doing? Higher conversion rates. Immediate answers to customer questions/concerns.
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  13. #13
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OICUAM2 View Post
    Would it be possible to have trackable phone numbers similar to what Ring Revenue is doing? Higher conversion rates. Immediate answers to customer questions/concerns.
    There already is a "service" number in place - for after the sale and is affiliate-independent. This serves to lower cancellation rates (a bit).

    We will have the capability of providing a "coded" general number for a certain level of production. For higher production we should be able to provide a custom toll-free number that would be unique to an individual affiliate.

    We are currently "testing" both and they are working. In fact we are currently running some tests with our "first" affiliate (we both agree he is the Guinea Pig) and things seem to be working well. The tests are currently as an indy program basis and not (yet) through a network.

    We will initially be looking for affiliates working in a niche area. If you have any interest do you have a niche market?
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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  14. #14
    ABW Ambassador beachcom's Avatar
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    Bill,

    Like the idea of phone tracking..especially if it helps lower the cancellation rate.

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