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Travel blogging and vlogging are exciting avenues because there is so much to cover. I know this to be true since I’ve traveled to 20+ countries and lived in seven. A travel blogger can discuss her experiences, tips, hacks, things to do, places to visit, dining, nightlife, tours, reviews, travel reward cards, money matters, what to avoid, and more. For example, you could cover Five Things to Do When Your Flight Is Delayed or How to get to (fill in the blank) Island for Under Fifty Bucks.
How to Make Money
Bloggers in any niche can “make money online” in several ways including affiliate marketing, advertising revenue (Google AdSense), book and online course sales, freelancing, print-on-demand product sales, digital media sales, subscription fees, and speaking gigs (offline).
Affiliate marketing is an excellent and viable way to earn money. It’s how I make a portion of my income. Many travel and tourism affiliate programs are available to promote. Standard travel program categories include:
- Business travel
- Car rental
- Money transfer
- Park and fly
- Sharing economy
- Sightseeing and passes
- Travel accessories
Well-known travel and tourism companies such as Booking, CheapOair, Expedia, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Kayak, Orbitz, Priceline, Royal Caribbean, Skyscanner, TripAdvisor, Trivago, and Walt Disney have affiliate programs. Airlines including Air France, Avianca, Emirates, LATAM, Qatar, and Virgin Atlantic have programs. Major car rental and ride-sharing companies have programs, for example, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, Thrifty, Uber, and Zipcar. Many hotel chains have programs including Best Western, IHG, Hilton, Marriot, and Radisson. You’ll find these affiliate programs on the top affiliate networks. Merchants typically link to their affiliate programs in their website menus and footers, and some offer programs on multiple networks. Travel bloggers might also promote products and services in these categories:
- Books, magazines, and courses
- Dating and relationships
- Food and drink
- Health and wellness
- Personal finance
For instance, a post entitled Ten Ways to Save for Your Next Global Adventure could include an affiliate link to Acorns, an investment app that helps people save money.
The Top Affiliate Programs
Publishers want to promote the top affiliate programs because they can yield more commissions. It’s as simple as that. Other articles highlight “the best programs,” but most of them include random and unvetted merchants that won’t increase your earnings. Let’s identify what excellent and profitable affiliate programs have in common.
High Conversion Rates
The best performing merchants frequently convert traffic into sales. Earnings per click (EPC) indicates how much money an affiliate program is generating per click. It can also represent how much an affiliate is making per click. Without EPC or conversion data, it’s impossible to say how a merchant is performing. (Some merchants boast about how well their programs do without providing real evidence.)
EPC data is available on most affiliate networks, and a valid comparison can be made between similar merchants, products, and services. A merchant with a low EPC could indicate that conversion rates need improving or the merchant is new.
A Generous Percentage-Based or Fixed Commission
Advertisers who pay single to low double-digit commission rates (or who nickel and dime publishers) aren’t worth your consideration. (Note: some industries pay low rates because they operate on thin margins.) A commission rate of 20 percent is the benchmark I use, whereas the fixed commission amount will vary. An advertiser who pays well wants to:
- Scale its program and revenues
- Build profitable relationships and mutually beneficial outcomes
- Show an appreciation for affiliates
A Minimum Cookie Length of 30 Days
Giving marketers one or a few days to convert traffic is ridiculous and unfair. By contrast, a 30-day conversion period allows for prospects to become customers and affiliates to get credit for their promotional efforts. Although thirty-day referral periods are a standard industry practice, a minimum of 90 days should be commonplace.
A Low Payout Threshold
A low payout threshold keeps affiliates motivated and engaged. Many merchants have reasonable thresholds of zero to $100. On affiliate networks, $50 is the standard. However, some companies want publishers to reach $100+ before issuing payments, which is unjust.
Excellent Affiliate Tracking Software
Affiliate tracking software is the cornerstone of success, and there are good and bad applications. Reliable tracking, user-friendly dashboards, and robust reporting make for excellent user experiences. Activity data—such as impressions, clicks, and conversions—should be available. Applications that omit activity data and reporting make it difficult to track and evaluate performance.
Deep Linking Capabilities
Deep linking is the practice by which an affiliate creates a link to a specific page on the merchant’s site. For example, instead of using a generic homepage affiliate link, I can link to an article that relates to my post. Deep linking has the potential to increase conversion rates because traffic is sent to targeted landing pages. Most affiliate tracking apps offer deep linking, but advertisers might have to enable.
Fantastic Program Management
The best merchants typically employ affiliate managers who can run and scale programs effectively. These managers welcome everyone (not only existing customers) to promote their goods and approve affiliates quickly. Please consider the above criteria when selecting merchants and programs.
Accommodation Affiliate Programs
- Airbnb – $40 commission
Airbnb provides access to millions of vacations rentals, homes, and experiences for personal and business needs. It has millions of listings in 191 countries, which is more than the top five hotel chains combined. Learn about the Airbnb affiliate program.
- FlipKey – Up to $20
FlipKey is a vacation rental marketplace that makes it easy, safe, and fun to find and book the perfect place to stay. A traveler can search more than 500,000 listings and find a rental with the space, privacy, and amenities of home. Learn about the FlipKey affiliate program on CJ.
- HomeAway – $20
HomeAway offers an extensive selection of vacation homes that provide travelers with memorable experiences and benefits for less than the cost of traditional hotel accommodations. Learn about the HomeAway affiliate program.
- Homestay – 24%
Homestay connects guests to 50,000 registered local hosts in over 150 countries. They offer a unique and affordable alternative to hotels, hostels, and B&Bs. Learn about the Homestay affiliate program.
Hostelworld is a leading provider of online reservations for budget-minded and young travelers. It offers online access to over 30,000 hostels and budget accommodation in 180 countries. Learn about the Hostelworld affiliate program.
- TrustedHousesitters – 20%
TrustedHousesitters helps pet owners go on holiday by connecting them with sitters who will look after their home and pets for free. Learn about the TrustedHousesitters affiliate program.
- TurnKey Vacation Rentals – 5%
TurnKey Vacation Rentals manages premier vacation rentals in some of the most desirable locations. Its comprehensive online marketing and distribution activities help owners grow their vacation rental revenues. Learn about the TurnKey Vacation Rentals affiliate program on ShareASale.
- VBRO – $20
VRBO is an online marketplace for vacation rentals with over 1 million properties in 190 countries. Learn about the VBRO affiliate program.
Sightseeing Affiliate Programs
- CityPASS – 6%
CityPASS tickets contain admission to the most famous and popular attractions in each city and are priced up to 50 percent less than regular admission prices. Learn about the CityPass affiliate program.
- Gray Line – 5%
Gray Line has been at the center of creating and operating the best traveler experiences in the world’s most sought-after sightseeing destinations. Learn about the Gray Line affiliate program.
- Legoland – 5%
Legoland Discovery Centers are family attractions designed for kids aged three to ten years. Locations have Lego bricks, cinemas, rides, workshops, and party rooms. Learn about the Legoland Discovery Centers affiliate program on CJ.
- Madame Tussauds – 5%
Madame Tussauds offers visitors the ultimate celebrity experience, allowing them to interact with life-like wax figures of famous people. Learn about the Madame Tussauds affiliate program on CJ.
- Priority Pass – Up to $20
Priority Pass is an independent airport VIP lounge program. With more than 1,200 airport lounges, travelers are guaranteed a warm welcome and place to unwind. Learn about the Priority Pass affiliate program.
- Sightseeing Pass – 10%
The Sightseeing Pass offers bus tours, cruises, walking tours, and access to attractions. Sightseeing Passes are available for New York City, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and other top destinations. Learn about the Sightseeing Pass affiliate program.
- Smart Destinations – Up to 6%
The Leisure Pass Group owns several brands including Smart Destinations, The New York Pass, and The Philadelphia Pass. Many of its brands have affiliate programs on various networks.
Specialty Affiliate Programs
- Contiki – 5%
Contiki provides tours for 18-35s. It offers a mix of sightseeing and culture in over 40 countries across six continents. Learn about the Contiki affiliate program.
- Intrepid Travel – 10%
Intrepid Travel is a provider of adventure travel experiences. Its family of brands offer over 1,600 itineraries on every continent and cater for all ages, budgets, and appetites for adventure. Learn about the Intrepid Travel affiliate program.
- Peek – 5%
Peek.com is a one-stop-shop to discover and book amazing experiences. From underground food tours to surf lessons, Peek has you covered. Learn about the Peek affiliate program on CJ.
- Sandals and Beaches Resorts – 4%
Sandals all-inclusive resorts offer a unique Caribbean vacation with unlimited relaxation and luxury service. Learn about the Sandals and Beaches Resorts affiliate program.
- STA Travel – Up to 20%
STA Travel is a student and youth travel company providing affordable adventures. It’s an expert in around the world flights, tours, accommodation, and good vibes. Learn about the STA Travel affiliate program.
Event Affiliate Programs
Travelers like to attend live performances, sporting events, shows, and concerts. Here are four companies with affiliate programs.
- Ticketmaster affiliate program
- StubHub affiliate program
- ShowTickets affiliate program on CJ
- Vivid Seats affiliate program
Money Transfer Programs
- Revolut – £20.00
Revolut offers a secure, mobile-based current account that allows you to hold, exchange, and transfer without fees in 29 different currencies. Learn about the Revolut affiliate program.
- TransferWise – £10.00
TransferWise is an online service that lets people send and receive money internationally at the mid-market exchange rate for a small, upfront fee. Learn about the TransferWise affiliate program.
- TransferGo – £10.00
TransferGo is an international money transfer company for migrant workers who want to send money back to their families without paying excessive bank fees. Learn about the TransferGo affiliate program.
Other Affiliate Programs
- Amazon – Up to 10%
Amazon sells many travel-related products. Whether you have an extensive network, content site or blog, Amazon provides numerous tools to meet your advertising needs and helps you monetize your site. Learn about the Amazon affiliate program.
- Busbud – Up to 5%
Busbud makes it easy for you to find, compare, and book city-to-city bus tickets online, all over the world. Learn about the Busbud affiliate program.
- ClassPass – Up to 12%
ClassPass is a fitness network with over 8,000 partners in 39 cities worldwide. Book the fitness activities you want including yoga, cycling, running, strength training, and more. Learn about the ClassPass affiliate program on FlexOffers.
- eBay – Up to 70%
eBay is an e-commerce company that connects buyers and sellers globally. It offers an online auction model in which users can purchase products by bidding and buying at set prices. Learn about eBay’s affiliate program.
- Fiverr – Up to $150
Fiverr is the largest online marketplace for freelancers with services starting at five dollars. A search for “travel” yielded hundreds of services. Learn about the Fiverr affiliate program.
- Groupon – 8%
Groupon features daily deals on the best stuff to do, see, eat, and buy in a variety of cities across the United States and the world. Learn about the Groupon affiliate program.
- Lonely Planet – Up to 15%
Lonely Planet is a leader in travel guidebooks and renowned for its first-hand approach to providing the best information and resources for travelers. Learn about the Lonely Planet affiliate program.
- Momondo – $0.60 per lead
Momondo is a travel search engine and comparison site for flights, hotels, and car rentals. It reaches travelers in 35 markets worldwide. Learn about the Momondo affiliate program.
- Walmart – Up to 4%
Walmart is a multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of discount department and grocery stores. It sells many travel products instore and online. Learn about the Walmart affiliate program.
*Contact me on LinkedIn to add your affiliate program to the list.