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  1. #1
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    I got a notification from Linkshare today indicating that Orbitz had changed its affiliate agreement. Well, I went and took a look, and that's the understatement of the century.

    The Orbitz agreement states that you cannot participate in its affiliate program if you are an affiliate of any of its competitors, including Expedia and Travelocity -- or if you're a travel agent! Unless I missed something, that's a totally new policy.

    Well, the decision for me was a no-brainer. I immediately quit Orbitz and removed all of its links from my site.

    I don't get the thinking behind this at all. For those of us who are offering our readers a variety of travel planning options, this is an absolute no-go.

    It also strikes me as the ultimate in affiliate-unfriendly policies to dictate to affiliates what other programs they can put on their sites (within reason -- I have no problem with a merchant that sells toys not wanting to be on the same site with kinky adult merchandise, for instance).

    Am I the only one who thinks this new policy is nuts?

  2. #2
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    I agree that sux. Yes have seen a few others try to do this... Some beauty site for example used to have an exclusivity clause...

    Its crap.

    ----
    -J
    Merchants: Do you realize that some of your affiliates are being paid commission on sales which you have paid for via PPC, offline advertising, and your targeted mailings?

  3. #3
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    I think you will find that several office supply merchants have this same clause. But you will still find links for them right along side their competitors that have the same clause.

    This can occur when a merchant does auto approval and the affiliate does not read the TOS. Should the merchant determine that you are carrying one or more of their competitors, goodbye commission and program. This unless you are generating great revenue for them. Then they may turn and look the other way.

    Gene
    TCS

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    I bailed on Orbitz too. The others seem to have a bigger media presence anyway, and there are enough competitors - so i've quit Orbitz.

    Fred

    In an effort to watch your cholesterol, you eat Spam Lite.

  5. #5
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    I think Orbitz was revolving arount the wrong planet from the beginning.

    Looks like they've arrived at the conclusion they aren't competitive, and went to their legal department for advice on how to make money.

  6. #6
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    WHOA folks,

    Hi, this is Blagica. Yes, we updated the terms and conditions. The changes we made are in regards to bidding on the word "orbitz" or any variation of, in search engines.

    The clause you mention:

    You are not eligible to participate in the Orbitz Affiliate Program if you are a travel agent, travel supplier or employee or agent of an Orbitz Competitor (each, an “Ineligible Party”).

    is not geared towards Affiliates. The program was established knowing that our Affiliate Sales Team would be members of our competitor's sales teams.

    I will be speaking with my Legal Team to ensure our Ts and Cs are clear, concise and don't harm your sales or membership to our program.

    If you took yourselves out, please place yourselves back in. We are only striving to make this channel stronger. It's been a strong year so far and you guys had quite a bit to do with it.

    Thanks Everyone,
    Blagica
    blah-gee-tsa

  7. #7
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> You are not eligible to participate in the Orbitz Affiliate Program if you are a travel agent, travel supplier or employee or agent of an Orbitz Competitor (each, an “Ineligible Party”). <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Is not the only portion we're talking about here!

    The part that says:

    "You may use the HTML code and graphics provided by Orbitz
    only to link to or search the Orbitz Site, PROVIDED THAT you do not use
    the HTML code or graphics
    provided by Orbitz in connection with any
    feature in your web site which is devoted to a comparison of the travel
    information or fares offered by Orbitz to travel information or fares
    offered by any of Orbitz's then existing online reservation competitors,
    including, without limitation, the Orbitz Competitors "


    would seem to be my main concern. Part of our reason for existing is give our customers a choice.

    I read the above the same way . . . if it's not "only Orbitz" it's "no Orbitz"!

  8. #8
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Blagica:
    You are not eligible to participate in the Orbitz Affiliate Program if you are a travel agent, travel supplier or employee or agent of an Orbitz Competitor (each, an “Ineligible Party”). <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Sorry, but "agent of an Orbitz Competitor" sure sounds like it includes affiliates of your competitors, and my lawyer agrees.

    Further, many of us who run travel-related sites are technically travel agents and/or wholesalers, whether or not we actively book travel in the traditional manner. Some of us are actually professional enough to have IATA numbers, etc. Why the heck would Orbitz want to exclude some of the most competent travel experts from participating in its affiliate program?

    I just don't get it.

    Further, your competitors Expedia and Travelocity have NO exclusion clause at all and they don't restrict travel agents from participating.

    [This message was edited by mousesavers on January 25, 2003 at 01:33 AM.]

  9. #9
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    Blagica-
    You should tell your legal team to rewrite the agreement. It does not matter what you intended the new agreement to mean, it is how they are interpreted. The agreement that you have in place right now does not appear to mean the same thing that you want it to. Affiliates do not care that you are not going to ban them for an apparent violation of your agreement, what really matters is that the agreement appears to give you the right to ban them. Trust is very important in affiliate marketing, and this agreement puts a lot of strain in your relationship with affiliates.

  10. #10
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    Team,

    I'm going to get a hold of Legal today and discuss revising our Ts and Cs. I'll give you all an update this week with progress.

    Thanks for your feedback. We've changed many things about our program to demonstrate our commitment to the channel. That commitment won't stop any time soon.

    Blagica
    (Blah-gee-tsa)

  11. #11
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    While your going over restricting affiliate program terms with the legal department make them clearly state your policy on BHO theftware "incent" affiliates. It is hard enough to design a travel site to set our return day cookie and target buyers, without having millions of Orbitz popup Ads overwrite our efforts.

    Your advertising banner camapign is rapidly approaching the effectiveness of the X-10 Ads. If my limited surfing requires I shut down at least 20 Orbitz popups daily then my hint to Orbitz is to fire your Ad agency as your not branding your potential customers ...your alienating them.

    Charlie ...

    If they won't adopt and feed a bird ..flip them one! Where's the love and show me the money?

  12. #12
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    Agreed. I was biting my tongue...fingers...about the plethora of Orbitz popups..

    ----
    -J
    Merchants: Do you realize that some of your affiliates are being paid commission on sales which you have paid for via PPC, offline advertising, and your targeted mailings?

  13. #13
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Joseph;

    You know the new move by Orbitz and Cheaptickets to Linkshare shows a timing when Holiday travel tappers off. Add in the fact that Orbitz was more intent in setting the ground rules of a pure play advertising game then on making high conversion landing pages speak volumes on their immediate plans. I'm sure CheapTickets is using the same tactics. My rule of thumb is to NEVER showcase excessive advertisers (TV or Internet) on your sites as they already are overexposed to shoppers who will ignor your efforts and are naturally PUT OFF by their gorilla marketing efforts.

    Anyone who plans and then proceeds to spam the internet with billions of Ads will also aggressively use OPT OUT spamm to your visitors who don't buy on the first visit. Orbits and CheapTickets haven't earned the right to be considered true pay-per-performance merchants by posting 60 day cookies and high conversion creatives.

    I assume therefore they are looking at Linkshare as a method to tap into the parasites!!! I invite their AM to come out and explain their real plan to move from mass CPM Ads into a commission paying program designed to encourage new recruits with a published conversion ratio of at least 1 sale per 100 clicks.

    Charlie ...

    If they won't adopt and feed a bird ..flip them one! Where's the love and show me the money?

  14. #14
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    Hi,

    I met with Legal this morning and we are looking at making the verbiage more clear, however, please review the following paragraph from our current Terms and Conditions:

    You are not eligible to participate in the Orbitz Affiliate Program if you are a travel agent, travel supplier or employee or agent of an Orbitz Competitor (each, an “Ineligible Party”). An Orbitz Competitor means any entity providing online travel services, including, without limitation, Sabre Inc. (including Easy Sabre and Travelocity), Hotel Reservation Network, Expedia Inc. (including Travelscape), and Cendant Corporation (including TheTrip.com, CheapTickets.com and Galileo International), and any successor entity to the foregoing, any airline, any car rental, any cruise operation or hotel company.

    Mousesavers, our copy never states that you can not be an Affiliate of a fellow travel site.

    Regards,
    Blagica
    (blah-gee-tsa)

  15. #15
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> An Orbitz Competitor means any entity providing online travel services<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Isn't that what we are doing? Providing online travel services? I agree with Mousesavers - many of us are travel agents and/or travel suppliers.

    Also, I thought you had announced 30 return days?

    It doesn't give me much confidence that your Ts & Cs still talk about Transaction Fees being "paid for purchases occurring within 4 days from the User....".

    You tell us 30 return days, yet we've all agreed and accepted a contract that only says 4 return days?

    What would happen if we had an issue about a transaction? The Ts and Cs would hold up and we'd be out of luck!?!?!

    I don't think this program is worth the aggravation at this point!

  16. #16
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    Maybe we shouldn't be so harsh about the legalese. The airlines have got in anti-trust hot water signaling each other about fare changes via reservation agents and I'll bet the whole issue being discussed here is really a fallout of that, except that I wouldn't think hotel reservation agents were part of that game.

  17. #17
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    Maybe, but it would be nice if the commissions they say they are going to be paying us matched the commissions on the terms & conditions.

    It doesn't seem like there's too much attention being paid to the program if the legal terms are outdated with old return day language and old commissions info.

    Just my two cents . . . .

  18. #18
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    What most important for a new merchant on a major network who obviously advertize like crazy is to post their stand on BHO parasites. We already see billions of popup Ads from Orbitz and Cheap Tickets diluting our pre-sell efforts. I just want to make sure they don't add billions more to the mix with the traffic hijackers pushing incented offerings.

    Charlie ...

    If they won't adopt and feed a bird ..flip them one! Where's the love and show me the money?

  19. #19
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    Hi Everyone,

    I understand the frustration that's floating around. Colby, we always want to make sure our site's Ts and Cs mirror that of our Affiliate Newsletters, etc. Where exaclty did you see the "4 days" remaining? The Orbitz Affiliate Program cookie time is 30 days, not 4.

    Mousesavers, yes, I see your point that "agent" can be interpreted as "affiliate". We will make this paragraph more clear. Please take a look at other travel partner's terms. They use language quite similar to ours.

    The popunder question. This forum is pertaining to our Affiliate Program, not popunders. We, along with other travel providers, aside from Cheap Tickets, use this form of advertising. This form is a channel, not the end all, be all. We are growing our Affiliate Program because we know it is a targeted channel with an involved sales force.

    Most travel sites have had their Affiliate Programs up for a longer period than ours. We are revving up to speed and doing as much as we can in a short period of time. Please don't let semantics with our terms turn you away from our site's offering and Affiliate Program.

    Speaking of site offerings, check our our new hotel landing pages. Your users can drill down by top 20 cities now.
    New Hotel Main Page
    Thanks,
    Blagica
    (blah-gee-tsa)

  20. #20
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    As mentioned above, the return language is wrong in the Transaction Fee portion of your contract:

    TRANSACTION FEES
    You are eligible to earn transaction fees on sales of airlines tickets,
    car rental or hotel reservations for which a user follows a Link from your
    site to Orbitz, and completes a purchase. The Orbitz Affiliate Program
    will track purchases from your site; only purchases that are tracked by
    the Orbitz Affiliate Program Tracking System will be paid. Transaction
    fees will be paid for purchases occurring within 4 days from the User
    initially clicking on the Link.
    Orbitz will not pay transaction fees for
    purchases involving fraudulent activity and has the right to deny payment
    if it discovers such activity.

    JMeadow is right too, your commissions are off as well . . . . someone at your co. should start reading your contract to check for errors other than us!

  21. #21
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    Colby,

    You mean the return portion after you sign up?

    I wasn't aware that this change hasn't been made. Please clarify and we'll fix asap.

    Thanks,
    Blagica-

  22. #22
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    No, both errors are within the Terms and Conditions, not sure what the "return portion after I sign up" is.....

    The return days and the commissions are both wrong in the Terms and Conditions itself.

  23. #23
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    Colby,

    This is what i get from the Ts and Cs section of our site:

    TRANSACTION FEES
    You are eligible to earn transaction fees on sales of airlines tickets, car rental or hotel reservations for which a user follows a Link from your site to Orbitz, and completes a purchase. The Orbitz Affiliate Program will track purchases from your site; only purchases that are tracked by the Orbitz Affiliate Program Tracking System will be paid. Transaction fees will be paid for purchases occurring within 30 days from the User initially clicking on the Link. Orbitz will not pay transaction fees for purchases involving fraudulent activity and has the right to deny payment if it discovers such activity.

    Fee Structure
    Transaction Fees will be paid as follows:

    Air Transaction: Orbitz will pay you $5.00 USD for each air ticket purchased. For a given air purchase, a User can purchase one or multiple air tickets.

    Hotel Transaction: Orbitz will pay you $2.00 USD for each hotel transaction.

    Car Transaction: Orbitz will pay you $2.00 USD for each car transaction.

    http://www.orbitz.com/App/affiliate/terms.jsp?

  24. #24
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    The terms and conditions update link we were sent last week that said there was a change doesn't link to your site . . .

    it's the terms and conditions within LinkShare that we are looking at . . these terms and conditions that we've "accepted" as affiliates in LS say 4 days . . .

  25. #25
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    Update:

    -Colby, yes you're right. When we updated our terms and added verbiage regarding bidding on the word Orbitz, the 30 return days and commission structure were not updated. Linkshare's interface allows one update PER month to the Terms and Conditions. I can't make the next update until Feb. 22.

    -We will revisit the copy regarding "agents" and make that more clear.

    -Yes, it is possible to have Orbitz banners/logos/text side-by-side with other travel sites. We will make the linkage copy more clear as well.

    Until then, the 30 days and higher commission structure remains.

    Thanks Everyone,
    Blagica

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