Getting the most out of affiliate relationships requires travel firms to be clear about to how they are managed in house and where responsibility resides.
The daily hurdles travel merchants face when managing affiliate programmes will be discussed in a session at the PerformanceIN travel & leisure seminar in London on March 13.
Leading the session will be Lina Patel, travel account director for data feed specialist FusePump, who said it is sometimes not clear where responsibility for affiliates lies.
“I have worked in companies where responsibility has been both in the sales and marketing functions,” she said.
“I think it definitely needs to be in marketing, purely because you need to carry the brand across all online channels. There’s no point using advertising creatives that do not sit within the brand guidelines.”
Patel added it was important that merchants maintain a mix of affiliates from high volume price comparison sites to more niche content-based and channel-specific players.
As the affiliate sector has evolved, she said the mix has changed and dedicated resources have been applied to managing the large volume providers like Tripadvisor, Travelsupermarket, or Kayak.
But she added: “It’s really important to have that mix, you do not want to rely on one type of affiliate or channel.”
Increasingly affiliates are becoming the driving force for innovation with merchants using them to develop new ways to market without having to dedicate their own resources.
One example of this, said Patel, is sunscanner.co.uk, a Google Maps mash-up promoting package holiday deals from leading travel firms like Thomson, First Choice and Thomas Cook.
With ever larger quantities of data being mined via increased processing capabilities, affiliates have more opportunities to stand out from the crowd, Patel said.
“It’s about thinking outside the box, looking at what data is available. In travel, with the rich data that’s out there it gives affiliates more opportunity to create something different.”
To help merchants manage their relationships with affiliates FusePump has recently launched an Affiliate Hub – a place where they can interact online.
It launched with Thomas Cook and lastminute.com has become the latest travel client to sign up to use it.
“The reason we created this was essentially to fill a gap to allow communication, to allow advertisers to engage with affiliates, and to create offers or marketing activity,” said Patel.
“At the moment it happens either via the network interface or various emails, it’s all over the place, so this central place makes it easier for advertisers and affiliates to make contact.”
The day-long PerformanceIN Travel and Tourism performance marketing conference, being held in conjunction with Travolution and A4U, will take place on March 13 at the Hurlingham Club in Putney.
Registrations are open now and the full agenda is available on the event’s website.