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Best travel affiliate programs, offers & networks in 2021 [post-COVID-19 update]

1080 753 Magdalena Kukułka

Summer is just around the corner. Shops are stocking up with everything you need on holidays starting with summer shorts and sunscreen and ending with travel insurance. While the whole world seems to be recovering from lockdowns and restrictions there is one particular vertical that’s about to blow up again.

That’s right, it’s the travel vertical.

Read the article to prepare for the rise of the travel industry. Learn about the most popular travel affiliate programs and learn how to give your affiliate income a boost in 2021!

Should affiliate marketers start advertising the travel vertical again?

The question you need to ask yourself here is – Are people starting to travel again? And the answer is, absolutely, yes! With the covid vaccine becoming available to the general public, everyone is itching to finally get out of the house. The travel industry is taking off and so are the travel affiliate offers.

We are, of course, not back to the pre-pandemic levels yet. Let’s not forget that. Although the pandemic seems to be calming down, not all countries are fully open yet, and only 50% of Americans have received their vaccinations so far. That number is even lower in Europe coming at above 30% as of May 31st, according to Our World in Data.

But while everything is still in the process of coming back to normal, all travel bloggers and travel websites are busy preparing to cash in on the cabin fever of many individuals around the world. Restrictions are being lifted, people are eager to get out. There is just no better time to advertise travel offers than now.

The post-COVID-19 rise in popularity of travel offers

Just back in early April, the Google Flight keyword reached a score of 100 in popularity on Google Trends. The rating also increased for topics and searches such as Cancun, cheap o-air, and cheap flights anywhere. 

Additionally, as reported by Forbes, more and more destinations are opening for Americans (and other nations as well), which in turn causes an increase in hotel bookings and in travel jobs, car rental shortages, and a push for sooner opening of popular theme parks and entertainment locations.

In short, the travel industry is coming back to life. The internet becomes filled with useful tips, advice, and guides. Googling ‘covid safe travel destinations’ and reading up on procedures required to enter a given country is usually enough to prepare yourself for a trip in the post-covid world. And there’s plenty of resources like that, e.g. The Wall Street Journal’s Q&A to safe travels.

Travel is about to become a very popular and profitable niche again. And travel blogs, social media accounts, and websites can again be used to make additional profit by sharing a referral link to your favorite travel experience. So, better find the best affiliate programs and offers right now and don’t miss out on any of that growing hype.

Best travel affiliate programs

If you want to earn a commission from affiliate travel offers, here’s a list of the most popular affiliate marketing programs that you can join to make some passive income. There are many ways of promoting the below programs, and although the most popular way seems to be organic traffic, paid advertising offers equally amazing results.

So, if you have your own travel website, social media profile, or travel blog, these programs are definitely for you. If not, they can just as well be advertised with some of the paid ad formats available in Zeropark. So, take a look and see if you can generate income by promoting offers of these top affiliate programs.

 

booking logo

Booking.com

Booking.com might be one of the most well-known names in the industry. Anyone who has ever searched for accommodation has surely met with that name. That’s also why their affiliate program is on the top of the list.

Also, it’s one of the travel affiliate programs aimed at travel bloggers and website owners. The available assets are fully customizable to blend in with your website/travel blog. You also have the option to place an affiliate link that is region-specific and you can be as picky as you like when it comes to advertising this particular affiliate program.

Additionally, joining the booking.com affiliate program gives you a minimum 25% commission. Unfortunately, the cookie length is only for the duration of the session. However, with all these banner customization options that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.

skyscanner logo

Skyscanner

Skyscanner is the most popular global travel site for comparing not only flight prices but also hotels and car rentals. The affiliate program allows you to get a commission for every booking made through the site. Additionally, it has an interesting booking widget for your website. If you have a travel blog, for example, the widget will look like an integral part of your site.

Skyscanner allows you to advertise their website not only on websites but also forums, social media, and even advertising networks. The commission starts at a 20% rev share. And if you’re planning to go big, the Skyscanner affiliate program will share their Flights API (Application Programming Interface) with you so you can advertise them in the most convenient way for you.

kayak logo

Kayak

The Kayak affiliate program allows you to advertise the travel search engine also designed to compare prices on anything in the travel niche. From hotels and flights to car rental services, it’s a multipurpose site with high volumes of daily traffic. This travel affiliate program is aimed at website owners and travel bloggers with decent daily volumes of visitors.

If you feel like you’re meeting the requirements, affiliate marketers advertising for Kayak get their account managers and customizable banners and links. Although the Kayak site only provides information about a flexible rate structure, you can find other information about the commission rate reaching up to 50% of booking revenue with an additional benefit of $0.95 per ad click.

viator logo

Viator

Viator is a travel website that allows people to book tourist attractions and activities such as guided tours. While different in nature it is only slightly less frequently visited than hotel booking sites. The Viator affiliate program is perfect for travel bloggers, travel sites (including e-commerce), and travel agents.

If you want to recommend Viator on your site or travel blog, you’ll have a variety of customizable banners and links at your disposal. Commission rates start at 8% and the 30-day cookie lifetime will give you plenty of time to score conversions.

world nomads logo

World Nomads

World Nomads is a site of a different kind. It’s a travel insurance affiliate program so instead of selling flights or experiences, it focuses on your safety. Both travel blogs and affiliate marketers using various types of traffic can join and earn from this affiliate program. It’s available in 130 countries and the contract has no fixed terms so you can come and go whenever you want.

What’s more, with a 60-day cookie and commission rates starting at 10%, you can join their referral program, pick one of the banner integration options and make a solid side income with unlimited referral fees.

expedia logo

Expedia

Expedia is another multifunctional travel site that offers all the tools needed to plan a holiday. You can book hotels, flights, rental cars, and holiday packages all in one place. That’s also why Expedia’s affiliate program is an attractive option for travel blogging, deals websites, and other kinds of affiliate marketing.

Although Expedia doesn’t manage its own affiliate program you can find it among other options in the CJ Affiliate network. That’s why there’s no concrete information about commission rates and cookie duration – you’ll find it all once you join CJ Affiliate.

tripadvisor logo

Trip Advisor

Trip Advisor is amongst the most popular travel sites but also among the most popular affiliate programs. The Trip Advisor program lays it all out upfront. There’s no need to convince people to book trips coming from your link – all they need to do is click on your affiliate link and Trip Advisor sends you a commission.

The Trip Advisor affiliate program, however, is not managed by an internal team. If you want to join, you can do so by signing up to Awin or CJ Affiliate. That’s also where you’ll find more details about the commission rates, cookie lifetime, and tracking tools.

How to choose the best affiliate program?

If you’re an affiliate marketer looking for the best referral program to join, it’s crucial to learn about the criteria. Many travel affiliate programs will have strict requirements as to who can join. If you do meet these criteria, it’s important to set your own requirements. So here are the three most important things to pay attention to.

Commission

This one is a no-brainer. The higher the affiliate program commission the better. However, sometimes the commission rate depends on what you’ve got to offer. And sometimes it doesn’t. That’s why you need to compare different programs taking into account the way you’re going to promote the offer.

Usually, the more people click on your link or banner the more likely you are to get a payout increase. In that case, knowing your affiliate marketing potential, you can sign up for a program with a low base commission rate but higher bonuses and better offers for experienced webmasters.

However, if what you’ve got to offer is a smaller travel blog or if you’re planning to use paid traffic (which can be volatile) it’s better to focus on a higher base commission rate and smaller bonuses. It’s easier to enjoy your affiliate sales when you’re not desperately trying to reach a set quota.

Cookie length

Cookie length/duration is the time window in which the consumer needs to make a purchase. If someone clicks on your link on day one and then puts items in the cart and only makes the purchase 30 days later – you would only receive a commission if your cookie lifetime was 30 days or more. If it was a 14-day cookie, you won’t receive a commission despite the customer coming from your link.

With cookie length, the principle is simple – the longer the better. 30 days is a good minimum and 60 days makes it infinitely easier to make a successful referral. Cookie length can range from a single session only to a lifetime.

Support

Support, interface, documentation, and anything else that ensures you have a good experience with the affiliate program should be on your research list. While it might not be as easy to research the support system from a theoretical standpoint, there are still things you can easily do.

If you have access to some of the affiliate marketing communities you can take a look at what other affiliate marketers say. And peak some screenshots of an affiliate dashboard, functions, and tracking tools. There are plenty of websites ranking travel affiliate programs so checking out the reviews is also your best bet.


Learn about the differences between affiliate programs and affiliate networks. 

Affiliate Programs vs. Affiliate Networks


Best travel affiliate networks

Just like we’ve mentioned above, some affiliate programs are managed by an external affiliate network. The most popular networks where you can find various referral programs and some of the best travel affiliate programs are simply networks aggregating all kinds of offers. They are aimed at website owners and affiliate marketers using email, social media, search, text links, or other paid kinds of traffic.

There is one prominent name that sticks out.

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Travelpayouts

Travelpayouts needs to have a special spot on the list as this is the only affiliate network that deals exclusively with offers relating to the travel niche. Affiliate marketers who specialize in this vertical can join the Travelpayouts affiliate network and gain access to nearly a hundred of the best travel offers at once.

Additionally, they’ll have access to unique tools, an account manager, statistics, and even useful courses. As for cookie lifetime and commission rates, everything varies depending on the program.

Mixed-niche affiliate networks

Regardless of what kind of affiliate marketer you are, you must have met with some of the below names. They are some of the world’s largest affiliate networks. They are also filled with hundreds of quality affiliate programs including the best travel affiliate programs (such as the abovementioned Tripadvisor or Expedia.)

But that’s not all. These affiliate networks are aggregators for affiliate marketing offers relating to all niches. You don’t have to be a travel blogger or a webmaster reviewing vacation packages to join. All you need is a bit of experience in affiliate marketing and you can make money online promoting offers.

Take a look at some of the below networks to find travel affiliate programs and other offers relating to the travel industry (e.g. sweepstakes and vouchers for vacation packages, camping gadgets, or trip-planning mobile apps).

  • CJ Affiliate
  • ShareASale
  • Awin
  • ClickDealer
  • MaxBounty
  • MyLead

💡 Pro tip: You’ll find a special deal for ClickDealer, MaxBounty, and MyLead affiliate networks in the Zeropark Deals & Offers tab. If you’re looking for a good travel affiliate program managed by an affiliate network, these options come with additional benefits.

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How to pick the best travel offers?

Best travel offers might be hard to pick as the affiliate marketing landscape changes constantly. After covid-19, travel blogging and travel social media groups are coming alive with the best deals, cheap location finds, and airline tickets. Similarly, travel affiliates are on the lookout for any special offers that might be easily marketable.

If you’re joining an affiliate network with many offers, an affiliate manager will know exactly what performs best, and what’s got potential. The travel niche is on the rise, so don’t be shy to come back for more offers after a short time. There are bound to be more travel affiliate programs popping up throughout the summer.

Travel offers vs. travel-themed offers

The last important thing to mention is a distinction between travel offers and offers that relate to the travel vertical but belong to a different category. Travel affiliate programs usually relate to a website offering travel insurance, holiday packages, discounted flights, or a variety of other travel services such as car rentals.

For example, the Tripadvisor program allows affiliate marketers to place an affiliate link in their travel niche content and send customers straight to holiday-organization websites. In short, travel offers are serious and quite often a travel affiliate program will suggest that you use a specific landing page and a specific traffic source.

But there is also another side of affiliate marketing. And that’s affiliate programs that relate to the travel niche but are not considered to be necessities. They can range from mobile content, vouchers, and giveaways to e-commerce. Travel buddies, illustrated guides, survival gadgets, and photo accessories can all be great additions to your main travel affiliate program. And these are the kind of offers that are perfect to be advertised with PPC and PPV traffic sources, such as Zeropark.

Whether you’re a travel blogger or a PPC affiliate marketer, it’s good to have these alternative methods of earning a little side income.

Conclusions

Selling a vacation package isn’t that hard when half the world has been in lockdown for nearly a year and a half. Picking the right affiliate programs, on the other hand, might seem like a challenge.

In affiliate marketing, you need to first consider what kind of an audience you have and what volumes of traffic you can bring. You can join one of the travel affiliate programs for brands with worldwide reach or you can join an affiliate network and promote one of their many offers. It’s crucial to do the preliminary research because that extra effort is worth it.

All things considered, joining an affiliate program and placing an affiliate link somewhere in your content can be a great way of making money. And if you’re an affiliate marketer who promotes offers for a living, now is the time to get into the travel vertical.

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