“Affiliate marketing has made businesses millions and ordinary people millionaires.”
– Bo Bennett
How to make your own travel agency
Earlier this month I saw a poster advertising weekend trips to the Galápagos Islands. As both an animal lover and nature fan I knew I had to go. Visiting the travel agency and inquiring about their trip made me realize something crazy.
This massive international tourism firm used the exact same business model as me.
Doing a little detective work I learned that they had special affiliate deals with all kinds of hotels and airlines. This got me thinking. If a big company could sign-up for an affiliate program with an airliner or rental car agency, why couldn’t the average man?
There are plenty of guys who like to travel and who run blogs about their various adventures. But most of them try to monetize their sites with cheesy banner ads or Amazon Affiliates. For many bloggers there isn’t much money to be made that way.
Getting a commission on something like a hotel or flight would be far more lucrative. If you were to make your own travel agency you could do very well for yourself. Going on a trip, writing about it, and then adding some affiliate links to the services you used is a pretty simple process.
Just to make sure that this was feasible I decided to investigate further.
Travel agency affiliate programs
Looking around I found that it was possible to get into the travel niche. A lot of major companies, like TripAdvisor and Orbitz, have their own unique programs with different commissions and guidelines. Almost all of the big guns are willing to pay you something.
However, it is important that you realize a few things before signing on with anyone:
- Not all programs are created equal.
TripAdvisor offers sellers a 50% commission. Expedia pays 5%. That’s a pretty huge difference. A lot of airlines and cruise services have similar pay gaps. Other services only pay a flat fee. Airbnb gives you $25. Looking at every option is important.
I’m actually going to play around with the travel niche when I get back from my trip. However, I’m not going to just sit down and write-up a bunch of generic nonsense about places that I’ve never been to. Trying to fool people is a poor business strategy. If you wanted to get into this niche you’d have to already enjoy traveling. It would be pretty hard to pull off otherwise.
- You still need to do a lot of work.
Sales is a tough racket. I’ve made an average person’s weekly salary in a weekend. I’ve also had monthly earnings that were less than minimum wage. If you don’t want to work hard go get a cubicle job. The Internet and affiliate marketing is a struggle that requires a lot of blood and sweat. High commissions mean nothing when no one is buying.
There are a million ways to make money and this is just another one of them. If traveling is your passion, or there’s a particular place that you’re really knowledgeable about, this could be a great niche. With that said, I wouldn’t recommend it to people who can’t walk the walk.
If you don’t like traveling, or haven’t been to many destinations, don’t try this. Being a shady businessman could honestly jeopardize someone’s life or, at the very least, force them to waste a ton of money on a mediocre trip.
For an honest traveler willing to provide unique insights, this could probably turn this into a pretty good gig.