Content is such a huge part of affiliate marketing, and growing by the day. Bloggers are a key part of any successful affiliate marketing campaign, and the travel industry is no different. Not only will working with the right influencers propel your affiliate offers to new heights, but there is also the benefit of increased brand awareness.

There are, however, a few things that merchants should take into consideration when working with travel bloggers, as there are some distinct differences from working with bloggers covering other topics, e.g. fashion. After thirteen years as a leading affiliate marketing agency, it’s fair to say we’ve mastered the art of effective blogger relations.

Here’s Affiliate Marketing Manager, Dan Webb, with his top 3 pearls of wisdom when dealing with travel bloggers on affiliate campaigns…

1. Not so cut and dry…

Gaining content coverage for fashion merchants can be, generally speaking, quite easy. Most influential bloggers have brands they love and will already own many of their products, therefore post their own reviews and opinions without even a need for incentive. Additionally, if a fashion blogger doesn’t know your brand, all is not lost. Often, an introduction to your brand via a sample for review will encourage them to love it, or provide constructive feedback if they’re not so keen.

With travel, this is not always the case, especially thanks to the obvious difference in price point; “Oh hey, would you like to go on this £2,000+ holiday so you can review it?” aren’t words that are thrown about very often, plus most merchants won’t have the ability to provide this kind of incentive. Having said that, you can always take this into account when deciding on budgets, to perhaps offer a free trip to 1 or 2 of your key travel bloggers. It can’t hurt the relationship, can it!

Tip: Talk to the blog owner, find out what kind of content they like to produce and don’t try and force the content you want to see on them. Make content for your offer a collaborative effort and their enthusiasm should be evident in their writing. Be honest and realistic about what you can provide as an incentive, and what you expect in return.

2. They are not sales people!

In an ideal world, it wouldn’t be too much to ask a travel blogger to write about an amazing deal you have. In the real world, special deals are not necessarily engaging content for their readers. Most travel blogs are not “sales-y” and people are not reading them exclusively to get deals. For most bloggers, it’s a labour of love, with time invested into carefully curating their imagery and tone. Careless use of sponsored content can destroy their voice and ultimately do your brand little to no favours.

As a merchant, it’s your responsibility to understand their tone and their reasoning behind writing the blog. In the long run, it’ll work out better if you have shared aims. Travel blogs, for the most part, are about sharing adventures using evocative language and personal experiences to encourage others to explore the world. Brash offers and impersonal graphics won’t do the trick.

Tip: Be clever and think of an interesting title/theme that supports the voice of the travel blogger, so that your offer is complemented by their coverage. This will likely be a far more engaging piece and lead to a better click-through rate.

An example…

We recently collaborated with Emily Luxton on her travel blog to create a fantastic piece for our client, Intrepid Travel. We spoke to Emily, asked her about the type of content she likes to produce and worked with her to create a title that allowed her to produce content for Intrepid’s ‘New Year, New Challenge’ campaign. By taking the time to work with Emily on how she’d present her interpretation of the offer, we were able to secure a much more engaging piece of content. Not to mention, build an effective partnership between the blogger and merchant.

3. Their blog, their brand.

Needless to say, travel bloggers are keen explorers and like to write about their experiences first hand. If offering them a trip is not an option, which will normally be the case, perhaps suggest a large discount on one of your trips with some cheeky extras thrown in, or if budget is really tight, an exclusive look into the brand via a Q&A to provide something unique.

Again, communication is key, so work with the blogger to try and give them the experience that is the best fit for their site and readers. After all, they know their audience much better than you. Think about it – spending on travel is never a split-second decision, so if the blogger you’re working with is prepared to include your brand and offers in their adventure reporting, their readers will be more inclined to do the same and consider your brand for their next trot around the globe.

Tip: Don’t assume they are desperate for things to write about. Travel is a niche subject and perceptions are very, very different, so again, it’s critical to discuss with the blogger the type of content they wish to produce, the type of travel they are interested in and obviously, the interests of their audience.

First-hand experience…

Everything mentioned within this piece comes from real experience and our endeavours in trying to establish quality content with influential affiliate blogs. We factor these into our affiliate strategies for all travel clients, to ensure merchants are aware of how we work with our content publishers.

It really is a partnership and not just a publisher/merchant relationship. Sites like these can become an extension of your brand and hold a lot of weight with your potential new customers, so never underestimate the power of the blogger!

For more information on our affiliate marketing strategies, or our work with travel brand Intrepid Travel, why not give us a call? You can speak to Dan himself by calling us on 0191 406 1200, or drop us an email to [email protected]