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  1. #1
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    This makes Orbitz a lot more compelling. The text below is from an email today from Orbitz:

    $0 Payment Threshold
    Since we know that there is no better day than the day the check arrives in the mail, we have dropped our threshold from $50 to $0. That's right, your payments will come quicker than ever - no matter how much you sell.

    26 More Return Days
    Because we recognize that travel is a considered purchase, we have increased our return day offering to 30! We hope that you find this a valuable money-making benefit.

  2. #2
    Pimp Duck popdawg's Avatar
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    I was just about to post this, but you beat me to it.
    Now if only they weren't affiliated with Morpheus/BuyersSport [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_razz.gif[/img]

    Something strange is afoot at Circle K

  3. #3
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    Nice email but doesn't impress me. End the relationship with parasites and i'll take a second look at their program.

    Sal @ PHATBargains.com

  4. #4
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    I agree Sal, they could have a 365 day cookie and it wouldn't matter a bit as long as it gets overwritten with a morpheous tracking id!

  5. #5
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Their inside people finally realized that the ROI on affiliate sales channel exceeded their 20 million dollar monthly budget on other efforts.

    WebMaster Mike

  6. #6
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    OK . . here are my thoughts on this.

    I've been an affiliate of different travel sites for quite some time now and NO ONE waits a month before buying a ticket.

    If you need a hotel room, rental car, air ticket or whatever . . you're usually buying it within 2-3 days. 30 return days though [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_confused.gif[/img]

    It's not a new car or a house, it's a darn plane ticket!! Maybe for higher ticket items this is worth someone gloating about . . but not when you're buying travel . . .

    I think they are just trying to make themselves look better than they actually are in light of all the recent Morpheus, LimeWire, JambaFind, and TopMoxie stuff that's been hitting the news lately . . when you let them in your program, like "O" does, you're only hurting yourself b/c we will never support merchants like that!!

    $0 payment threhold . . . there are some travel merchants out there right now with a $10 one . . . which is quite low . . others with a $100 threshold . . I don't know about you but I certainly don't feel like receiving a $0.11 check in the mail!!

    Thanks, but no thanks "O" - try again!

  7. #7
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    I see criticism, but no praise, which confounds me from a purely logical perspective. I've read many a thread where various posters state they've given up on merchants because thresholds are too high, and it takes too long to get paid. Others have said that high thresholds and the absence of a metric like EPC or click-to-order ratios make it useless to try a merchant, because 1) you might not get sales, and 2) a high threshold prevents you from getting paid for a few tests.

    In this case, Orbitz is smart enough to recognize this and make the necessary change - so you now get paid for every sale, every month. Yet Orbitz faces criticism.

    Meanwhile, Expedia and Travelocity have $50 thresholds. I'd have to say I'd post Orbitz links over these two. It's a simple matter of knowing that I will be paid, even if I happen to generate $35 one month, $90 another, or $10 in a slow month. I'd rather get paid than not, and sooner than later...who wouldn't?

    While a $0 threshold doesn't create a true competitive advantage (i.e. one that cannot easily be replicated), it certainly creates an advantage for me, and thus one for Orbitz. I can only hope others in the industry follow suit. It's only better for us.

    Perhaps those who are happy with this change fail to post as much as those with criticisms. It's a natural human tendency, which is why consumers are likely to tell 10 people when they have a bad experience and only one or two when they have a good experience.

    The problem with this situation is if a merchant makes a positive change and still gets roasted, what chance do we have for further victories, small or large? So if you're happy, too, sound off!

  8. #8
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    Just goes to show how negative a program can be viewed by allowing parasites. It overshadows all that is good.

    Why would i waste my time promoting all the good aspects when in the end my commissions may be stolen?

    I'll stick with Hotwire (parasite free). They might not be as big as Orbitz but at least I know that if i make a sale, I will get the commission.

    Sal @ PHATBargains.com

  9. #9
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    Hi Everyone,

    This is Blagica, Manager of Orbtiz' Affiliate Program.

    I just removed Morpheus/Buyersport from the Affiliate team. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

    Our program started in April and we've got a good handle on learnings and updates that need to take place. Stay tuned for more changes!

    Blagica (Blah-gee-tsa) Stefanovski
    312.894.4939

  10. #10
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    I found this message board last night, only after learning just last week how serious this issue is. Coincidentally, I was also contacted by Blagica last week regarding enhancements to Orbitz's affiliate program, so when I saw this topic, I forwarded it to Blagica and she terminated Morpheus within 20 minutes!!

    If everyone will take the time to correspond with the AMs they have relationships with, we can put a severe dent into this very serious problem.

  11. #11
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    Quick question. Do they have direct links to hotels and cities, or is it just homepage links?

  12. #12
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    I'm building a new travel website. Blagica's responses make me take notice of the Orbitz program which I had decided not to participate in because of low commissions. But now I'll take a second look. I do have a couple of questions that Blagica or someone might answer:

    (1) How does Orbitz differentiate themselves from the others (Priceline, Hotwire, Expedia, the airlines direct) as far as the traveler is concerned? In other words, what is Orbitz's twist on this crowded industry that would get travelers to choose them over the others?

    (2) What does Orbitz offer the affiliates that would entice them to promote Orbitz over the other air travel merchants?

  13. #13
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Blagica:
    Hi Everyone,

    This is Blagica, Manager of Orbtiz' Affiliate Program.

    I just removed Morpheus/Buyersport from the Affiliate team. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Blagica
    Good move. Now the $0 threshold and 30 return days are a good selling point.

    As we have heard in these forums and this thread - affiliates are dropping merchants who affiliate with parasites. Merchants who truly value their relationship with hard working and honest business partners (affiliates) should not have to think twice.

    WTG Blagica

    Andy Williams

    Keyword DARTs - New search engine optimization software
    http://www.affiliate-masters.co.uk/k...timization.htm

  14. #14
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    Jimbo2002 and Whiznot, great questions. Let's start from the top.

    Hotel and Car Links

    Yes, we have banners that lead directly to these main pages. New Hotel banners were added last week. Cars are on their way.

    What Differentiates Orbitz?

    Traveler Care
    Our Traveler Care program is world-class. From start to finish, we look out for our traveler's needs by providing Care Alerts. When a trip is booked, consumers are automatically signed up to receive travel updates via e-mail. Don't like e-mail? No problem, visit the "My Stuff" tab to change Alert preferences to pda, phone or pager. If the flight is cancelled or changes, the Orbitz Care team is on the move. Customers are booked on other flights or told of the next best option.

    Family meeting you at the airport? How about a flight overseas? Traveler Care empowers the traveler by notifying family and friends at the sametime as the traveler. How's that for service? It's simple, consumers select up to four folks at the time of booking. Orbitz Traveler Care

    Search Technology - Air Matrix
    Our Air product is phenomenal. Try a search. The air matrix is what brings consumers back. The ability to sort by price, departure time or shortest flight lets the consumer decide which flight(s) are best. Orbitz also delivers the MOST results back and yes, we do have the MOST low fares.

    Hotels and Cars
    Our Hotel product is on the move. We now offer "Merchant" rates. You'll notice these properties by the "OrbitzSaver" icon. We're adding more hotels everyday. Ever conduct a Car Search? Our Car Matrix lets a consumer see every ratefor every car typefor every car rental companyin that market. How's that for thorough results? We also offer Car Insurance at time of purchase--a nice way to avoid paying the extra insurance fees at the counter.

    Please keep your questions and suggestions coming. I know of your frustration with our current commission structure. What I can say is that the payout isn't set in stone. We will be looking at ways to increase these commissions, offer lucrative programs and enhance your visitors' experiences with Orbitz.

    Thanks for your patience,
    Blagica
    affiliates@orbitz.com

  15. #15
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    Whiznot - FWIW, I'll give these a shot:

    (1) How does Orbitz differentiate themselves from the others (Priceline, Hotwire, Expedia, the airlines direct) as far as the traveler is concerned? In other words, what is Orbitz's twist on this crowded industry that would get travelers to choose them over the others?

    - Let's drop Priceline and Hotwire from the discussion, first, b/c they are different than the rest of the travel industry, because their business model effectively sells anonymous remnant space. The user does not know the brand, and thus these services only appeal to the segment of the population who are okay with this. In fact, since Orbitz doesn't offer this service, they have an extensive marketing partnership with Hotwire, and vice versa, promoting each other's services.

    The rest - Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz, Trip.com - are fairly similar in broad terms of the service they offer. They're reservation sites for the masses for air, hotel, car, vacations. Without offending Blagica, I'd say that all of their features/services are fairly similar with different names slapped on them. They all have a few unique little surprises up their sleeves, though, but they're all selling the same things.

    Orbitz's presentation of flight choices is different, however, and personally, I prefer this over Travelocity and Expedia as a user. I tend to find more flights and can view by price, stops, or airline with one easy click.

    The big difference is probably on the back-end...the reservation systems. In fact, Orbitz issued a press release on August 19 about advances they've made in hooking up with airlines' ticketing systems. The short of it is this:

    "Orbitz' Supplier Link technology consists of sophisticated network connections that link Orbitz' powerful search engine directly to a supplier's individual reservation host system. Supplier Link was developed using the latest techniques and technology in hardware, networking and distributed object computing. Orbitz leverages easily available commodity hardware and a horizontally scalable application architecture to create a system that is highly efficient, cost effective and optimized to handle large volumes of traffic."

    They launched the service with American Airlines, and in the release stated that "The seven other airlines that signed up to build Supplier Links with Orbitz include Alaska Airlines, America West Airlines, Delta Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Midwest Express Airlines, National Airlines and United Airlines."

    Maybe Blagica can describe more accurately how this benefits consumers, but essentially, the better the reservation engine, the more fares it can find, and presumably, the more lower fare choices it can provide for users.

    Furthermore, Orbitz was founded by the 5 big airlines - American, Continental, Delta, Northwest and United - which has led to all sorts of legal and competition issues for them. See here on Orbitz's own site. Thus, if there's so much worry about Orbitz being able to effectively shut out the competition, they must be doing something really well or have a tremendous advantage, right? In fact, they are.

    The big deal that everyone's up in arms about is Orbitz's "most favored nation" clause, which pretty much states that all participating airlines must provide their best rates from any sales channel to Orbitz, and can't provide a better rate in another channel (own website, competitor like Expedia). And, this is for a timeline of something like 10 years. See an interview here about the opposition's concern.

    So, since Orbitz has this MFN clause, your customers will presumably find the best rates available anywhere. Of course, Orbitz tacks on $5 per ticket, so they might not get the best total price. (Maybe that's how they subsidize affiliate & other fees.) Furthermore, airline sites can offer mileage bonuses for reserving through them directly that is not available on Orbitz (or other multi-carrier reservation sites). At the end of the day, Orbitz offers better fares and convenience.


    (2) What does Orbitz offer the affiliates that would entice them to promote Orbitz over the other air travel merchants?

    - I think $0 threshold and 30 return days are a good start. And, let's clarify something: That 30 return days means that based on one click, you're going to get a commission for every sale that occurs through 30 days (presuming no clicks through other affiliates), not just on that first sale. So, while Jmeadow is right - people might not need 30 days to make the first purchase - Jmeadow doesn't acknowledge that people might make more purchases in the next 30 days for which you will get a commission. Thanks, Orbitz.

    Blagica promises us more, so let's see what's coming. Personally, I think they should look at what Expedia, Travelocity, and others offer their affiliates in the way of linking tools and options. Orbitz is sorely lacking here. They provide little or nothing in the way of promotional/deals content or an effective reservation tool.

  16. #16
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    Your thorough responses are greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  17. #17
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    Maybe I am missing something, but why would anyone promote Orbitz on their website. They only pay $2.50 per Airline Ticket, $1.00 per Hotel Booking and $1.00 per Car Rental Booking. That seems outrageous compared to Expedia and Hotwire, both of whom I do well with. So isn't this the real issue rather than payment thresholds or return days?

    Blagica, is this the corect payment structure? If so, any plans on changing it.


    Here is info on their program on Linkshare:

    Welcome to the Orbitz Affiliate Program! Take advantage of the fastest growing industry on the Internet and partner with Orbitz today.

    The Orbitz Advantage

    The most airline web-only fares

    The latest in fare-finding technology

    User-friendly display featuring the most travel options

    Web-only specials on hotels and car rentals

    Traveler Alerts notifying customers of flight delays, gate changes, and other useful information

    Program Details

    $2.50 per Airline Ticket

    $1.00 per Hotel Booking

    $1.00 per Car Rental Booking

    Plus, for affiliates selling more than 200 transactions in a calendar month, Orbitz is paying a 20% bonus on transaction commissions. There is a 4-day return period for the program.

  18. #18
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    Thanks Orbitz,

    I'll be promoting you for your stance and to offer some competition. I welcome your support and hence you will have mine.

    Please add your company in the section on merchants agains parasites. There are many other affiliates here who will promote you.

    Thanks again

  19. #19
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    Please don't take my criticism that follow personally, Blagica ... you're a welcome member of the ABW group and we are grateful for your presence ... but feel free to pass my criticism on to whoever put the Orbitz program together.

    Steve G hit the nail on the head. I did take a good look at the Orbitz program when they introduced it and had an index finger spasm over the back button as soon as I saw the commission structure.

    I think Orbitz really missed the boat with this. Everyone waited for the grand opening and probably went away shaking their head in dismay at those numbers. If they're not ABW members, they will probably never give the Orbitz program a second look.

    Also, why is it that every airline ticket program is pushing hotels and rental cars?

    What we need is someone that is serious about pushing airlines tickets. The affiliate market is saturated with airline ticket merchants pushing hotel reservations, apparently on a third party basis, when there's already established big players offering real commissions to affiliates for hotel reservations (and probably rental cars too).

    I'll be more blunt about the commission structure. I think Orbitz is making a strong statement offering $2.50 for an airline ticket and $1.00 for a hotel reservation, and that statement is that Orbitz is not in the game and is so far removed from it they don't even know what the game is.

    So I've taken a second look at the Orbitz program. Thanks, but no thanks.
    I suggest Orbitz sticks with off-line advertising.

  20. #20
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    affiliateguy...

    Just curious if I'm misunderstanding return days.... I belong to other travel programs, and am considering joining Orbitz's, but your explanation above doesn't meet the same understanding I have...

    You said: "That 30 return days means that based on one click, you're going to get a commission for every sale that occurs through 30 days (presuming no clicks through other affiliates), not just on that first sale. So, while Jmeadow is right - people might not need 30 days to make the first purchase - Jmeadow doesn't acknowledge that people might make more purchases in the next 30 days for which you will get a commission. Thanks, Orbitz."

    I do applaud their 30 return days, but let's be clear. The 30 days applies to the cookie that is set for that particular offer - and is tied to that particular offer/session. You don't get credit for all the transactions that might come through during that 30 day period. You only get credit for the one that was cookied. So let's say someone goes through my site to get their ticket. My referral information is tagged to that cookie/session, and if they buy that particular ticket within 30 days, I get credit (as long as they don't go back through someone else). If they don't buy that ticket, I don't get credit. And even if they do come back to buy a vacation, hotel room or rental car, I don't get credit for those purchases. Return days aren't "all-encompassing" cookies that would feed me credit for any/all purchases made by my customers - only the ones that originated through me with that particular offer/session associated with it...

    thoughts?

  21. #21
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    Hi Everyone,

    Our daily Air volumes are much higher than those of our travel counterparts -- and we are willing to pay higher commissions for those transactions.

    In terms of a flat fee, how would you like to be compensated? How would you promote Orbitz differently? A 1% commission on Air is similar to our current $2.50 flat payment (based on a ticket price of $250). We can up that ante.



    Looking forward to your responses,
    Blagica
    (blah-gee-tsa)
    affiliates@orbitz.com

  22. #22
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    Hi Blagica,

    I would love to see Orbitz trounce Expedia and Travelocity who won't get out of bed with the parasites. Your stance on parasiteware is a giant step in that direction and I applaud you for that.

    How about instituting a new customer bonus. Currently Hotwire offers $3 for every new customer who makes a purchase. So even though their commission rate (1%) is pretty much the same as all the rest of the big players, the new customer bonus makes them stand out.

    If I had a choice of $2.50 or 1% commish per airline ticket, I would vote for the 1% (maybe 2%? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]). I would also like to see this % extended to hotels and car rentals as well. Currently a big time travel merchant has a 2% private offer (don't think I'm allowed to say who they are). If you can match this, you would easily jump to the top of my travel page.

    I promote most major travel programs. I've been looking for one or two to emerge as standouts. Basic criteria is commish rate, website usability, conversion rate, stance on parasiteware. Right now, with the exception of the commish rate, Orbitz is ahead of the rest of the gang. I believe that upping the commission rate to 2% will do very well for you. You have a lot of competition right now and this commission rate will really get peoples' attentions.

    Orbitz

    Sal @ PHATBargains.com

  23. #23
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    Blagica, why not get the marketing and financial folks to sit together and decide what an affluent credit-card toting online new customer acquistion is really worth to the company, then offer that.

    Don't forget, once you have pulled in that new customer you'll have all kinds of ways to bring them back in without paying the affiliate. Your satisfied new customers will become creatures of habit and keep coming back directly to your site, and blab their "great new find" all over the office. The O word will be on their lips, not the E word or the T word!

    If a new airline customer is only worth $2.50 and a new hotel customer is only worth $1.00 then Orbitz has a big problem with their business model IMHO.

    Off the cuff, I'd say 2-3% is where the airline tickets should be and 4-5% on hotel reservations. But don't make offers that can't be maintained because in my book the only thing worse than offering too low a commission is offering a top rate, then dropping it. The online affiliate landscape is littered with dot com corpses that tried the bait and switch thing.

    One more thing, don't try to base your commission offerings just upon what the competition is doing. Think more along the lines of what an affiliate partner needs to make it worth their time. I, for one, can't justify doing serious promotion of airline tickets at an effective rate of 1% or hotel reservations at an even lower effective rate. I think the industry has come to grips with this and is offering higher rates not only because they recognize a higher value for a new customer but because they can't get affiliates' attention for 1%. Affilates can probably recognize higher revenues by promoting novels for your air travelers to read on those long boring flights.

  24. #24
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    I don't really care about airline commissions. $2.50 seems reasonable.

    But $1 for a hotel stay? You are obviously not interested in having affiliates sell hotels.

  25. #25
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    Hi All,

    Great feedback.

    -Customer Bounty
    Yes, we are considering such an incentive. In terms of the marketing and financial folks that make decisions on commissions, I’m a key member of those groups, so you’re concerns are definitely being raised. Part of my job is to manage our overall Emarketing costs, which include the Affiliate Program. The current way our program is set up may not allow for a simple method to track new bounties by individual affiliates. I’m looking into getting around this.

    -Competition Commissions
    We don’t base our commission structure solely on what our counterparts are doing. The Orbitz Affiliate program was launched in April of this year. At that time, we reviewed travel-industry structures to ensure that Orbitz was competitive. Our initial structure was not “set in stone”. Speaking of structures, let’s take a quick look at a few:

    Air Car Hotel Threshold
    Orbitz $2.50 $1.00 $1.00 $0.00
    Travel $2.00 $1.00 $1.00-$3.00 $50.00
    Expedia $3.00 2% 2-5% $50.00


    Travelocity also has a $3 payout for every Preferred program enrollment. Expedia also has a $20 cruise and 2% vacation commission.

    Our move to decrease the threshold, in addition to increasing return days demonstrates our commitment to this medium and more importantly, our sales force – those of you on this message board and new affiliates to come.

    Overall, we know that changes are in order, but Orbitz isn’t far off. I can tell you now that the changes we make will be flat fees, versus a percentage. Our Hotel product is ramping up, that I can promise. Actually, if you do a Hotel search by top cities like NYC, LA or Chicago, you’ll see those OrbitzSaver icons appear more often than in the smaller markets.

    -Credit Card
    We do have an Orbitz Credit Card. Take a look. Would love to hear your thoughts on that. Do you work with any Merchants that have Credit Card offers?
    Orbitz Credit Card

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