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How travel brands can take flight with affiliate marketing

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How travel brands can take flight with affiliate marketing


The clocks have gone back, temperatures are falling, and the cost of living is rising. As Australia prepares to enter another winter, prospects for the nation’s travel industry are surprisingly bright as many consumers continue to play catch-up after two years of confinement. Stuart McLennan explores affiliate marketing and travel.

Amid consumer concerns about soaring interest rates and surging inflation and living costs, Australians have demonstrated a keen interest in travel, perhaps a bigger appetite than ever. According to our recent consumer study, 75 percent of Australians plan to take flight this year even as living costs top their concerns. 

In a competitive environment where value for money is top of mind, consumer data and insights are the key to attracting and retaining customers.  Affiliate marketing’s exceptional access to data on consumer preferences and behaviour, strong targeting capabilities, and deep integration with enthusiast media make it one of marketing’s most effective and underrated channels for reaching travellers at the moment of decision.

A win for all involved 

The internet is the obvious first port of call for consumers seeking travel inspiration. Google is often a first stop, with our survey revealing 58 percent of Australians start their travel plans with queries to the popular search engine. 

But Google’s isn’t the only choice when it comes to researching travel. Our study found over a third of Australians look to travel booking sites and influencers to seek inspiration. In addition, social media advertisements have the best conversion rate. A third of Australians said they made a travel-related purchase after viewing an ad on a social media platform. 

Influencers are also a strong inspiration for women, particularly for Millennials and Generation Z. Our research shows women are twice as likely than men to be inspired to travel by friends and family. When it comes to booking, young Aussie travellers below 35 are more inclined to take action after seeing an ad on social media, airline loyalty programs and even buy-now pay-later platforms.

These numbers highlight why affiliate marketing, a resilient and low risk digital marketing strategy in which a brand leverages publisher partners to market products and services, is perfect for travel marketing. Affiliate links are a mainstay of travel-related content like articles, review sites, Instagram posts and YouTube vlogs. Many publications and social media influencers partner with affiliate networks that reward customers with discounts, cashback, loyalty points for making purchases sourced through their content. 

For brands, there are obvious benefits to compressing the time between an expression of consumer interest and conversion.  Embedded commerce shortens the customer journey by enabling purchase at the point of inspiration and even an opportunity to go through checkout within the content. Publishers and influencers receive commissions for inspiring their audiences to purchase, and satisfaction with their purchases in turn builds their credibility and stronger relationships.  

These qualities make affiliate marketing a win for everyone involved: the brand finds a buyer at the moment of decision and closes a sale, publishers and influencers monetise their content, and consumers earn are rewarded for their purchasing activity. 

Travel marketers are uniquely positioned to take advantage of affiliate marketing because it’s already natural to the industry to infuse offers with a variety of affiliate-friendly tactics such as coupon codes or buy-now pay-later offers. Customers can also be rewarded for sharing referral codes with their social circle, thereby creating a word-of-mouth ripple effect. Indeed, our research showed that Australian women in particular are likely to be encouraged by peer recommendation.

Making affiliate marketing activity fly

Despite concerns, our research shows Australians are enthusiastic about travel, making right now a prime moment for travel brands to connect with consumers and incentivise purchases in innovative ways.

Affiliate marketing is a powerful platform for reaching consumers as they dream of their next holiday with meaningful incentives to purchase, such as unique discounts and loyalty rewards. It also creates opportunities to encourage customers to tap into the power of word-of-mouth marketing by offering rewards to share their bookings socially.

Affiliate marketing is a resilient and low risk marketing channel that can help travel brands thrive in times of economic turbulence. With the right approach, travel marketers can maximise revenue from online sources while offering Australians escape this winter for some much-needed rest and relaxation.

Stuart McLennan is the senior vice president, Asia-Pacific, Rakuten Advertising.


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