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  1. #1
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Can Travel Affiliate Compete With Travel Agents?
    I've read that online travel sites now account for 70% of all travel bookings, but a recent survey shows an upsurge in business for B & M Travel Agents. The American Society of Travel Agents reports that of their 6,000 members, 47% have increased revenue and 45% increased bookings for 2014 over the same period in 2013.

    This has been in part attributed to an improved economy resulting in travelers looking to book more intricate trips, that they feel would require the aid of a real life travel professional.

    Is there an opportunity here for travel affiliates to expand their sales by offering more hands on assistance with bookings, maybe through chat?
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
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  2. #2
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Doesn't anyone have any thoughts about this?
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
    "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -John Wooden;
    "Raj, there’s no place for truth on the internet." -Howard Wolowitz[/SIZE]

  3. #3
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Heh - I have been a member of ASTA for several years. I qualified because of volume of bookings AND I was willing to pay the DUE$. I figured flying their logo on our main travel sites added a bit of credibility.

    Yes, affiliates can compete. We do well in niche markets with small sites targeted to specific areas. But I have never been successful with "packaging" a trip, even though a couple of our fulfillment companies (merchants) can sell hotel + air + car. I suppose the B&M Travel Agents convert most of that business.

    On another note, on some chains I often earn a higher percentage than the "usually considered" 10% that travel agents get. For example, I had a Baltimore Hyatt Regency booking yesterday (Jeannine won't want to hear this) that paid me 14.5% on a 2-night stay. Guess which brands we like to "promote." We also do better working with consolidators than by going with brands through a network.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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  4. #4
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    I know a local group that created an affiliate site to market individual hotels and have turned it into a merchant site. They have made major coin as small hotels are lousy about marketing themselves (as most SMB are) especially with PPC.

  5. #5
    Full Member Lanny's Avatar
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    I read in a book about Walt Disney World that some OTA's (possibly this includes Travelocity, Expedia, etc.) demand and get multiples of the 10% commission that a brick and mortar travel agency would receive, from many properties. When I was very young I was an airline employee and then I worked in a Travel Agency for one year. I do our family travel arrangements on the web site of an OTA or directly on the web site of the airline. My gut feeling is that an OTA can pay a much higher commission to Affiliates and still make a lot of money on a booking to a property. The time involved for an employee of a brick and mortar travel agency to help someone with an intricate trip is valuable and many of them must charge fees for that counseling service, because many of the people do not end up booking with them. Agencies that specialize (Walt Disney World, Cruises, a particular destination, etc.) can do that easier because of their expertise in a niche.

  6. #6
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    ...demand and get multiples of the 10% commission that a brick and mortar travel agency would receive...
    You can see that is true from the coincidental example I gave above. I work with a couple of those large OTAs, consolidators, as in your examples (although I no longer work with Travelocity).

    If "I" can earn 14+% on a Hyatt Regency booking - you just know the OTA is making a good bit more. For the most part I work directly with those OTAs and do NOT go through a Network (that may offer only 3% on that Hyatt booking, for example) - and have been doing so for 14 years.

    With all that said - that is not true for ALL rooms booked at a hotel. The large consolidators have individual contracts with hotels for certain blocks of rooms. It is possible that one of our customers may choose a room that pays only the "usual" commission of 6-7%. But - guess which rooms we always display at the top of our offerings.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
    Cute Personal Checks and Business Checks
    If you are too busy to laugh you are too busy.

  7. #7
    Full Member Lanny's Avatar
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    Bill: What I remember reading in that book about Walt Disney World is that those big OTA's demand very high commision percentages from many properties, if they want to be listed by the OTA in their SERPs and get bookings from them. The OTAs get very high commissions from the properties, without having the upfront cost (and substantial risk) that a Consolidator takes when they get a block of rooms in a property. As an individual, making a booking, if one can go directly to the reservation office in a property, there is a potential for getting a much lower room rate... The Reservations office of a Chain cannot give those kinds of rates. The cost of a booking made via an OTA to a property is very substantial. Lanny

  8. #8
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Ah, yes, Lanny, that's another twist in this business. Some folks may call it being "paid" appropriately for good placement. Others may call it a form of extortion. I've heard it both ways.

    It might be considered a loose parallel to AdWords - with the higher bids rising to the top of the ad section on SERPs. If you don't want to pay at all you just don't get listed.

    Here's a similar example. I have a restaurant list on a couple of our popular resort sites. I don't charge for placement - but I likely could. I just don't have the time to go out and sell those placements and don't want the hassles of billing, accounting, etc. I don't charge for placement or inclusion - but we have to actually like the place for it to be on those pages.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
    Cute Personal Checks and Business Checks
    If you are too busy to laugh you are too busy.

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