Should you affiliate? The short answer is yes. But, let’s start by explaining what affiliating means. As a small hotel, hostel, or bed and breakfast owner, you should not fear affiliation. No, it does not mean that you are becoming business partners with someone, or selling shares in your lodging business.
Affiliation in internet-parlance simply means that you join programs hosted by other web-based businesses to place links on your website. The links earn you money. Like advertising, these affiliate links direct your guests to pages where they can purchase products or services. The links track the clicks that you refer, and you earn a percentage of sales that you send to the affiliate company.
So, why should you affiliate? As a hotel or B&B owner, you can easily earn enough income through affiliate links to pay for the entire cost of hosting your online presence, your website, domain, email hosting, etc. Why not run your online marketing presence for free. But, more than just earning a residual income, affiliate links can increase the popularity and traffic to your website. This is the number one goal of online marketing. How does affiliation increase the popularity of your site? By adding affiliate program links to your website of complementary products and services, you increase the interest-level and content of your website. Visitors will be drawn increasingly to your website if they have more interesting content to read and valuable services or products to explore and purchase.
So, if you run a hotel or hostel website, add affiliate links offering car rentals in your city, rail passenger tickets, airline tickets, travel guide books, city tours, etc. See how it works? Your guests will not only return to your website to check out your rooms, accommodations, and services. They’ll return to your website, because they know they can find these other much-needed services there.
So how do you get started with affiliate programs? Select the online company you wish to affiliate with. You’ll most likely find a link on their homepage on “affiliate programs” or “how to work with us”. For example, if you wish to host affiliate links to sell travel guides for your city or country, check out Amazon or Barnes and Noble’s websites. Most out of town travelers to your city will be carrying a travel guide when they arrive. So, why not be the one who sold it to them?
Instant World Booking also offers an array of flexible affiliate programs. Their newest innovation, called the Auto-Affiliate Program, is new to the internet, and likely to cause a stir among company’s who affiliate. It’s called the Auto-Affiliate program because it’s the simplest affiliate program developed to date, and doesn’t require any lengthy sign-ups or online forms to complete in order to get started. You simply add some simple, pre-defined link code to your homepage, and your finished setting up. Instant World Booking then contacts you be email as you begin generating clicks and income. The other reason the Auto-Affiliate program is revolutionary is that you earn 25% of revenues on clicks you refer. This is the highest available today, which is astounding, considering how easy it is to set up. The vast majority of affiliate programs offered today earn just 5% – 15% of revenues produced.
On a slightly more controversial note, should you affiliate with companies that offer competing services to your own? I already said that you should affiliate with companies offering complementary services, but what about competing services? Well, you would certainly not want to affiliate in such a way that would lead guests directly to book at your neighboring competitors. But, affiliating with regional or global reservation services can actually enhance your business. Think of it this way. If a potential guest has already found your website, and is browsing your service offerings, they will still consider booking with you, even if they have the option of browsing alternative hotels or B&Bs across your region. Most travelers will appreciate your foresight in offering the ability to book lodging across your region, especially if they’re traveling from city to city during their trip. The key to clinching the booking is to offer instant booking capability right from your website, but that’s a topic for another blog article. Bottom line, offering affiliate links to online reservation services will not hurt your business, and marginally increase your profits.
To recap, here are the do’s and don’ts of offering affiliate links on your hotel, hostel, or bed and breakfast website:
- Do affiliate with websites offering complementary services or products.
- Do seek affiliate programs offering the highest share of revenues.
- Do seek affiliate programs that offer easy set up and tracking.
- Don’t affiliate with websites offering un-related services or products to your own. This will make your website appear disorganized.
- Don’t consider affiliating with more complex methods than simple links, unless you’re using your website to provide a virtual storefront.