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How To Create an Affiliate Program for Your Tour & Activity

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November 29, 2021

How To Create an Affiliate Program for Your Tour & Activity

As the travel industry grows more and more competitive by the day, it can feel impossible to break through. Without a huge advertising budget, how do you drive more traffic and bookings to your tour and activity business?

That’s where travel affiliate marketing programs come in.

Building an affiliate program allows you to create a built-in sales team of influencers who promote your tours, activities, and packages year-round on their channels. It’s a mutually beneficial partnership that can be cost-effective for businesses — you only pay when you get results.

Why Focus on Affiliate Marketing?

You’ve probably already seen affiliate marketing at work. If you’ve ever clicked on a link embedded in a blog article or social media post and made a purchase, the affiliate marketer was likely paid a commission.

That’s what makes affiliate marketing so powerful for businesses. When you partner with an influencer or content creator who already has significant reach in your niche, this can automatically increase website traffic, boost brand awareness, and lead to concrete results — more bookings.

Instead of relying on an internal sales team or a large advertising budget, affiliate partnerships allow you to maximize sales with no up-front investment. Because it takes so little capital, anyone from an emerging tour business to a massive franchise can leverage affiliate marketing to their advantage.

So how do you build an affiliate program? We’ll walk you through the process of creating and maintaining an effective partnership for tour and activity businesses.

How to Create a Tour Affiliate Program

Affiliate marketing has been around for a while, but it’s still just as effective today as it was a decade ago. 81% of brands say they have affiliate programs. Another 40% of marketers say that affiliate programs are the top way they acquire new customers.

As the influence of social media grows, it’s likely that affiliate marketing will too.

That being said, the success of your new affiliate program will depend on how well you set it up. Let’s walk through the process of creating a travel affiliate program step-by-step.

1. Tap Into an Existing Network — Or Start Your Own

Before you start, you’ll need a platform to work with. You have two options for starting your program: You can either tap into an existing network of influencers and creators through third-party programs or you can build your own from the ground up.

With existing networks, it’s much easier to recruit new partners to your brand. You’ll have immediate access to a wide pool of relevant and experienced influencers to work with. However, you may have to sacrifice some control over these partnerships, including the commission structure. You may also have to offer a larger percentage of your earnings to pay this network as well as your partners.

Creating and managing your own affiliate program will take a lot more work. But it will also give you the advantage of managing the relationship on your own terms. You’ll have full control of communication with your partners and the kind of commission structure you want to set up.

2. Establish a Commission Structure

The average commission rate for affiliates is between 5% and 30%. For some affiliates, it can go as high as 50%.

It isn’t always easy to set a rate for the first time, but it’s important to think both about value and affordability. What kind of profit margin do you receive for each tour, activity, or package? This will help you get a sense of the kind of value you’ll receive from each purchase.

The commission can also depend a lot on experience. A large travel blog with a highly engaged audience will likely expect a higher commission rate than a smaller travel influencer who's just starting out — and you can expect high-value content in return.

At the end of the day, it’s much easier to raise a commission rate than decrease one. It’s always safest to start with an affordable rate and increase it over time, especially for loyal affiliates who have proven their value to the company.

3. Vet Your Affiliates Before You Start

While the success of affiliate marketing has been on the rise, this has also created an oversaturated market. There are thousands of influencers trying to find ways to monetize their content, many of them with sizable followings on a blog or a platform like Instagram or TikTok.

But not all influencers will offer you the same value. When considering a pool of potential affiliates, here are some qualities to consider:

  • How big is their following?
  • Do they have a good engagement rate? (likes, comments, views, etc.)
  • What kind of comments do they get? (genuine comments vs spammy ones)
  • Do they post consistently on their chosen platform?  
  • Are they transparent about paid ads or commissions?
  • In prior partnerships, how well have they represented a brand’s offerings? If they haven’t done partnerships before, can they tell a captivating or engaging story through their content?

Remember, your affiliates will do more than just post about your brand. They’ll be representing your brand’s identity, values, and everything you have to offer.

4. Empower Your Affiliates to Succeed

Having great affiliates isn’t enough. In order to help your partnership succeed, you need to empower each new affiliate to do their best work.

Make sure each partner is prepared with everything they’ll need. They should have access to documents or powerpoints breaking down your brand vision, templates for captions or other copy, examples of the imagery you’re going for, and more.

It can also help if you have a review process set in place. For example, the affiliate submits their idea for new content as well as a first draft, giving you the chance to provide feedback and perfect each affiliate post they make.

Leveraging Travel Affiliate Programs for More Bookings

While there’s a lot that goes into a successful affiliate marketing program, all you need to start with is the basics: Find the right partners, give them the tools they need to succeed, and then watch your business grow. Over time, you can adjust your practices to keep improving the program — pulling in stronger affiliates, keeping up a stream of high-quality content, and turning those leads into clients.

If you have a compelling tour offer and can offer a decent commission rate for the right affiliates, you’ll be well on your way to driving more bookings with a low budget.

Once you get new traffic through the door, you need to know how to keep them there. Having a smooth and seamless booking process is the next step towards converting an increase in leads to an increase in sales. Get started with Junglebee today to walk your customers through the booking process step-by-step.

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