Why travel is so competitive for affiliate marketeers

Have a look at a generic, broad search term for holidays or flights in a major search engine and you will see that the vast majority of the time the top ranked results are not affiliates but major entities in the travel business. How then can a travel industry affiliate ever hope to make a success in the field and get a return on the time and money she or he spends?

First we need to look at why the field is so competitive.
The main reason is that some of the other entities you will be competing against will be owners of inventory. When I say competing this could be competing for keyword / search terms in the pay per click search arena or pure /natural search engine ranking.

Because most travel products are perishable (i.e. when a flight departs with empty seats there is zero revenue from those and no way to get revenue from that after departure), the owners of inventory can get into a mindset that almost all the revenue from a sale of otherwise unused products is “incremental”, a flight sold at £99, less tax and charges of £15 is £84 revenue compared to zero if the seat goes unsold.
So in a strange way the inventory owner might be persuaded to spend £83 on getting that seat sold = a large budget for PPC, SEO or any other marketing.

Compare that to the position of the affiliate. Even on a generous affiliate scheme where he or she might get 5% and would have to pay tax on that, the difference in budget is massive.

Don’t get too dis-heartened !
Returns can be good. For the very same reason that the owner of inventory is prepared to outbid the affiliate on marketing effort, they are also in many cases, comfortable with allowing affiliates to take a reasonable percentage of sales as commission. A family holiday booking for £2000 could net an affiliate over £100 on some schemes.

What can a travel industry affiliate do ?
The answer is to avoid the main and broad search terms and find a niche. The simple fact is that this area should be a lot less competitive so you have a chance of getting in the top 5 on a search engine and that means traffic and then the hard work begins of converting the traffic into sales. So much the better if you have knowledge of this niche and optimal if you have a passion for it.

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