Background

MyTravel is one of the UK's leading holiday and leisure groups incorporating big names such as Airtours, Aspro, Direct Holidays, Panorama and Manos. Its website www.mytravel.com offers a range of sun and ski package holidays, hotels, flights, late deals, villa holidays, cruises and holiday extras such as car hire, foreign exchange and expert travel guides.

Early in 2005 MyTravel took the strategic decision to establish an online affiliate marketing programme to broaden its marketing mix.

Victoria Mcquillan, Affiliate Progam Manager commented: “Affiliate marketing has a strong presence in travel and we felt that it offered a quick, manageable and low risk way to engender multiple partnerships through which to develop a steady revenue stream.”

Set up and execution

Following a tender discussion process, Affiliate Future was selected to work with MyTravel to help them develop their affiliates programme.

Initially MyTravel chose to go in offering a commission rate no lower than any major competitor, with the added incentive of an extra 1% for an introductory period.

Initial creative executions were intentionally generic as the frequency with which changes would have to be made to accommodate MyTravel’s offers and the affiliates’ needs was an unknown.

The first set of banners was driven by MyTravel’s website and each led to one of the site’s existing product - and destination-specific - landing pages.

The rationale for this was that the creative would endure for a sufficient time period during which MyTravel would work more closely with key affiliates to create a more tailored offering.

In short, the strategic decision was taken to first set up a simple affiliate marketing scheme to get the ball rolling, which could then be developed in consultation with key affiliates as the scheme gathered momentum.

Results

At a very early stage, MyTravel started to see a steady amount of business as a result of the work it and Affiliate Future had done with its affiliates, even with this generic approach.

The top performing affiliates were then identified and the affiliate marketing programme tailored to best meet their needs.

It quickly became apparent that what the affiliates were most interested in was information-rich content, which MyTravel could easily provide. This allowed the affiliates to develop more sophisticated search engine terms, more productive copy for online promotions and to deliver information of specific relevance to their site visitors.

MyTravel set up a web area for affiliates to house all the information they requested. Every time new information was added, AffilateFuture’s network was informed via its forum and news board.

Since MyTravel’s affiliate marketing programme began, it has enjoyed a continual and steady increase in business week on week, rising at a greater rate once the affiliate-led changes were introduced.

Just over five months into the programme, affiliate marketing now accounts for a significant percentage of My Travel’s online bookings and is still growing.

Future

Victoria commented: “We see our affiliates as a virtual sales team and support them as we would a network of independent travel agents, each with their own highly individual needs. We have already done this with our key performers, but the next step is to go to the next tier down and work with the mid-performers to introduce the adaptions and incentives they need to increase sales.”

Published on: 12:00AM on 26th September 2005