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Our platform is all about helping to find you affiliates – more importantly it’s about finding the most relevant affiliates to recruit. The platform provides outline affiliate analysis, including social and email details; as this is a relationship industry, it pays dividends to understand publishers more fully. That’s what led us to plan this series of interviews.
This ‘Publisher Spotlight’ is on Weather2Travel.com one of the UK’s leading travel websites, dedicated to find the best travel deals – and the best weather to go with them.
We talked to Colin Carter to provide travel merchants with an insight into how this sector has fared over recent months – and the plans for the future.
We started Weather2Travel.com back in 2005 as a simple weather guide for holidaymakers deciding where and when to go on holiday.
In simple terms we provide long-term weather averages by month for destinations in every country of the world. So answering questions such as “How sunny is Barbados in April?” or “Is the sea warm in Malta in November?”.
We extended that to answer questions like “When is the best time to go to Tenerife?” and “Where can I go in October for hot and sunny weather?”.
Our site is now a hub for holiday research with detailed weather guides, inspirational blog content and unique travel tools. We also work with travel brands to promote their products and promotions to our audience of travellers and holidaymakers.
The Weather2travel blog offers insights on destinations and experiences across the world from our pool of travel writers.
During the last few months the travel sector has been badly impacted. How well have travel merchants dealt with their affiliate relationships during this time?
The early signs of the downturn became clear back in late February with those affected countries, such as China, Iran and Italy, losing traffic. As we went into March this widened to more countries until we reached lockdown when demand nosedived.
Travel merchants gradually reined in exposure and budgets, which was completely understandable. Once the UK government furlough scheme was launched, we saw many travel companies temporarily pausing or completely closing their affiliate programmes.
This of course causes a huge amount of additional maintenance especially as a content publisher. Other merchants chose to reduce commission rates and in some cases drop to 0% CPA, which meant that tracking links still worked, but we weren’t being paid for sales.
Communication became difficult, especially once marketing teams within travel brands were furloughed or moved into other areas of the business. There were some exceptions, but they were few and far between.
So, in answer to your question, travel merchants in general dealt with their affiliate relationships poorly in my experience.
… has the sector started to pick back up yet – and do you see it returning to previous levels?
We have certainly seen some improvement, especially after we got clarity of the FCO advice and quarantine exceptions, however the recent changes to Spain and others have put the brakes on that recovery.
Many people are desperate to escape on holiday, be it a staycation in the UK or a beach holiday abroad. We can’t expect to return to previous levels until consumer and traveller confidence returns, we avoid mass-unemployment and a long-term recession, and some level of normality is found. A vaccine is the only answer for a long-term recovery.
How have you as a travel specific publisher managed through the last months?
It’s been very challenging. Like most companies we’ve been using the furlough scheme to minimise costs and ride out this difficult period.
It’s been important to optimise the website where we could and develop a few new sections. We identified early on that the domestic markets would recover sooner than international travel so looked to enhance our offering in the UK, Ireland and our nearest neighbour France.
We also identified that travellers needed up-to-date information about the Coronavirus so we developed a new section called Travel Advice and most recently added the current FCO advice and quarantine rules to help travellers research and plan their holiday.
What is the best way for an advertiser to get your attention to be featured on Weather2Travel.com?
Firstly, advertisers need to be aligned with our brand and the travel products we promote. Our best relationships are with advertisers who are engaged and accessible and have good communication lines whether directly, through an agency or affiliate network.
Obviously, we are looking for reliable tracking and good reporting as we benchmark advertisers based on performance. As a content publisher we are after advertisers who are prepared to reward in other ways rather than just last-click CPA, such as multi-attribution, hybrid models and tenancy.
We want to build long-term content strategies with our partners who see the bigger picture including brand and product awareness.
What new tools or help would you advise advertisers to provide?
As I’ve mentioned, well run programmes rely on good communication with publishers. This doesn’t just mean regular newsletters but conversations between advertisers and publishers to understand each other’s businesses better.
Product level reporting is something that still hasn’t become the norm in travel. Understanding and sharing insights into the products sold, including travel dates and destination, is incredibly useful for both parties.
This also becomes essential information when identifying the timescale on commission payments as travel advertisers often pay after travel. Getting a better idea of when each commission will be paid would be a great addition to network reporting.
What key piece of advice do you have for those new to affiliate management?
For newbie affiliate managers I would suggest being as engaged as you can with your programme and publishers. Be open to trialling different models, commission structures and strategies. Look at what you’re paying for different types of publisher and the value they bring to your business.
For new publishers to affiliate marketing, I would publish quickly and measure the performance, learn and adapt content accordingly.
From looking after the technical aspects of the website to working closely with affiliate networks and speaking at numerous industry events, Colin strives to find effective ways of partnering with relevant travel brands. He is experienced at promoting travel products through innovative use of technology, weather data and authentic content.
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