Why Travel Content Creators Choose Affiliate Marketing: Report From TBEX

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This past November, we attended the TBEX Asia 2022 conference in Phuket, Thailand as speakers for the third time running. In this post, we’ll tell you our impressions of the conference and share the affiliate marketing advice given to us by the travel bloggers we met.

What is TBEX?

TBEX is, first and foremost, a community for travel creators and industry professionals from around the world. Each year, TBEX holds several conferences around the world to gather the community to share knowledge and form partnerships. This autumn, TBEX came to Phuket and brought together more than 200 travel bloggers.

Travelpayouts team near the TBEX Asia 2022 banner

TBEX always spotlights topics that are important to travel content creators. Since TBEX Asia 2022 was the biggest blogging conference after the pandemic, many sessions focused on travel market recovery and changes in monetization strategies. Of course, affiliate marketing was also a big part of the conversation.

Shane Dallas, TBEX Conference Director:

“Before there were a lot of trends [along the lines of] ‘I will go on a media trip or a press trip and get paid’ or ‘I’ll have a sponsored post and get paid’. Those models have definitely decreased.

I think affiliates obviously dropped in the first few months. But it’s one of the most secure sources now, and it’s an easier way. If you want to start your own business or tour company, it’s a lot of time and a lot of upfront investment. If you can get your SEO right and you can get your articles right, then it’s a lot easier to get an affiliate onto your site.

So I think people need to be aware that there is more money to be made than just getting publicity. You can use those views to direct into your affiliates, to direct into your other business opportunities.”

Travelpayouts Lead the Discussion About Affiliate Marketing 

TBEX Asia 2022 was our third TBEX conference of the year. We had previously attended TBEX North America 2022 and TBEX Europe 2022 and had prepared something even more special for the Asia event.

Live Q&A With Guillaume Schaer, Affiliate Consultant to Top Bloggers 

We had the pleasure of hosting a session called Money in Travel. Live Q&A with Top Bloggers Affiliate Consultant, in which Tatiana Buyanova (Head of Business Development at Travelpayouts) interviewed Guillaume Schaer (head of travel consulting company EYFARI and founder of MilesAddict), who helps the biggest travel and lifestyle YouTubers monetize their audiences with affiliate marketing.

During the talk, Guillaume explained how to monetize social media, such as YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, and shared successful cases of his clients, all of whom are major bloggers.

Tatiana Buyanova and Guillaume Schaer at the Q&A session about affiliate marketing

Interviews With Travel Bloggers and Travelpayouts Partners

Of course, we met with travel bloggers and our partners, who provided us with insights about affiliate marketing and their experience with Travelpayouts. Below, we summarize the five most exciting findings:

1. Bloggers Choose to Include Partner Marketing Into Their Monetization Strategy

According to travel bloggers, the most successful monetization strategy is affiliate marketing, for which they do a lot of brand research, content creation, and SEO.

Erin Holmes, the creator of Explore with Erin:

“Everybody’s got to book accommodation or car rental. So affiliate links is a great place to start. I actually do a lot of content creation, and I find that you can sign up to agencies who will give you work. There are people looking for micro-influencers, so you don’t have to have a massive of followers anymore. That would probably be the two easiest ways to gain money straight away.”

2. Content Creators Work Both Directly With Brands and Affiliate Networks

According to bloggers themselves, working directly with a brand is a long-term collaboration, whereas partner networks offer the opportunity to work with many different brands in one place over the long- and short-term.

Amanda Mouttaki, the creator of MarocMama:

“I like the ease of working with a network because a lot of times it’s a lot easier. Especially if a brand doesn’t really have a strong presence or they don’t have a person who’s specifically set up to be their affiliate, it’s just kind of like a secondary thought for them. But sometimes it’s easier to work with a brand especially if you’re doing like one-off collaborations if it’s like a long-term agreement.”

Alan Cuthbertson, the creator of Frequent Traveller:

“Affiliate networking is just easier. It gives us a lot more options to our blog to cover a lot of different avenues like hotels, luggage, tours, and things like that”.

3. Why Bloggers Choose Travelpayouts

Bloggers choose Travelpayouts because it focuses on one niche, travel, and offers a great variety of brands, and simple partner tools.

Raksha Nagaraj, the creator of Solopassport:

“I really enjoy dashboards because there’s transparency [on Travelpayouts] and you can see what’s happening. So that’s one of the things that I like. Also, the variety of brands that they work with is another thing. It’s easy to set up and then easy to work with their brands.”

Guillaume Schaer, the founder of MilesAddict:

“Whereas if you look at a lot of other travel affiliate networks, they [Travelpayouts] work on multiple fields. What I like about Travelpayouts it’s only about travel, and everybody in the team that I’m in touch with on a regular basis knows travel, breathes travel, and lives travel.

Travelpayouts is good for any blogger or any content creator who works or who has an audience who’s interested in travel. The interesting part is really having so many options around advertisers in the travel industry. There will be one advertiser or multiple advertisers who are a match to your audience.”

4. The Most Profitable Partner Programs

Most bloggers earn with partner programs associated with hotels, and Tours & Activities.

Raksha Nagaraj, the creator of Solopassport:

“Booking.com [brings more affiliate income]. That’s because everybody books accommodation. And some of the things that have worked for me is Viator. So people go on day tours, and they have booked through Viator.”

Erin Holmes, the creator of Explore with Erin:

“Mainly hotels bring more affiliate income. Booking.com or Agoda or something like that. Everybody always needs a place to stay when they’re on holiday.”

5. The Most Important Things in Affiliate Marketing

We asked each blogger the following question: What advice would you give your younger self on choosing the right platform to monetize your blog? 

Below are the key takeaways. If you are just starting your journey into affiliate marketing, make note of these bloggers’ tips so you don’t make the same mistakes. 

  • Understand user intent. Tracy Collins: “If you’re writing an article, know exactly why users are coming to your website. For example, you know the best places to stay in London, so you know that when somebody’s coming to your website, that’s the information that they want to look for. Then you can link to hotels. I think rather than just writing a post important links to affiliate in, you really need to think about exactly what it is that user is coming to get that information.”
  • Diversify. Erin Holmes: “I wouldn’t just go straight into one platform (editor’s note: by platform, Erin means brand). Because if I have done that and if that platform falls over or doesn’t pull through for you, you’re left with nothing.”

    For example, in March 2021, the Airbnb Partner Program, a popular service for booking short-term homestays, closed. Partners had to look for alternative programs and change affiliate tools in their articles to keep making money. To avoid this, a good practice is to try several partner programs from the same category. 
  • Know your market and what works in your area. Erin Holmes: “At the moment for me personally, Booking.com is probably the best one. But that depends on which regions you’re in, because Agoda is great for Southeast Asia, Booking.com is great for the US, and Australia uses something completely different.”
  • Find monetization opportunities that work for you. Tracy Collins: “When I started in 2016, I knew nothing. I honestly didn’t even know you could make money from your blog until I had friends that started making money, and I was like ‘How are you doing that?’. Do lots of research, have a look around, and find out what other people are using and what they’re doing. I think networking is common to things like TBEX, learning from other people, rather than kind of diving into stuff. I think it’s easier now; when I started in 2016 I didn’t have the contacts. Listen, learn, and then figure out what works for you.”
  • Start monetizing right from the start. Alan Cuthbertson: “If I was younger starting out again, it would be to start monetizing earlier. We waited until our traffic had increased a fair bit. But if I was studying it now, I wouldn’t wait until our traffic was at a higher level, I just start straight away.”

The bloggers we talked to at TBEX seemed to all wish they had added partner links when they wrote their first articles. Most of them had to retroactively add affiliate tools, which means they missed out on years of commissions. 

Join the Travelpayouts partnership platform now and gain the chance to work with over 100 popular travel brands, use effective tools for promotion and tracking, and start monetizing your travel content.

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We are already preparing for the TBEX Europe 2023 in Peloponnese, Greece. Maybe we’ll see you there! In the meantime, you can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Stay tuned for more interesting interviews with travel bloggers.