Tourism and travel services online: how to make money

 

What are the trends in the online travel market?

Statistics for 2012 in Russia show USD 4.5 million worth of transport and tourism services purchased and booked online – 45% higher than in 2011. The U.S. market during this time grew by 8%. Annual user outlays on tourism services via the Internet are 2.5 times higher than online purchases of products. In per-capita terms, this is an average of USD 1,000 vs. USD 400 per consumer.

In 2012, 3.5 million Russian Internet users bought plane tickets online, with 400,000 booking tours (representing approximately 8% of all Russian Internet users). Another 20 million Russians are potential “online travelers”. With that in mind, there is every reason to believe that the market will continue to boom in the coming years. Demand is likely to exceed supply and there is plenty of space to occupy your own profitable niche.

 

Why are Jetradar and Hotellook better than an agency?

The Russian Internet has been growing at a breakneck pace, with a huge number of agencies and meta search engines. However, there are some big differences between them.

Agencies have direct agreements with booking systems and sell tickets. For this, an agency receives a commission out of the ticket price. The agency can offer its clients an additional bonus system or discount since the agency controls the price of the ticket.

On the other hand, Jetradar and Hotellook are meta search engines, which means we do not collect money from clients. For our users, this means we do not in any way affect the final cost of the ticket. This is particularly important after allegations arose of OTA increasing ticket prices based on user information (device used, visit history, geoIP).

Metasearch (searches of multiple agencies) always provides identical prices. Due to the wide variety of agencies and booking systems, we offer the best variety and best values for users. Search also includes budget airlines, which improves search quality and user trust, thus inspiring better conversion rates.

 

Structure for tourism sites

Now a word about how to best structure your tourism-related sites.

  1. Main page. The landing page for general queries, such as "cheap plane tickets". You should use a special page for each search query. For example, "cheap plane tickets" goes to jetradar.com (sales of cheap tickets) and "plane ticket price comparison" goes to jetradar.com/welcome (here the attention goes toward explaining what metasearch is and comparing prices). You should also put a hot price map and search form on the main page.
  2. Landing pages. The entire site is split up into landing pages:
  • For routes (a city or country).
  • For airlines.
  • For airports.
  • For search queries.

On each landing page, you can place:

  • A search form.
  • Graphics and statistics about routes and airlines. We provide affiliates with an API for obtaining this data.
  • SEO texts.
  • Other information (weather, distance, photos).
  • Buttons for sharing on social networks and subscribing to emails with site news.
  • An area for user comments and feedback – a great way to get free content and additional traffic on long-tail queries

3. Search results. When a user enters a query in the search form, a new page opens with the selected options. The results can be shown via White Label or on jetradar.ru/hotellook.com.

4. Develop, develop, develop. Later you can create a network of such sites for each route

 

What is White Label?

White Label is when an affiliate can put their brand on software developed by another company.

We offer two kinds of White Label, for ticket and hotel search. The system is extremely easy to install and configure, which allows you to easily implement a fully functional search on your site, under your brand and in a way consistent with your design.

White Label is an excellent option for major content sites that have their own loyal, regular audiences. This could be a travel portal, such as travel.ru or tonkosti.ru, or a city portal. Statistics show that the strength of the brand indicated in the search form is not as important since users are simply searching for tickets (not booking/buying them).

When a user goes to the Jetradar site from an affiliate search form, a cookie valid for 30 days is placed on the user's computer. If the user does not buy a ticket right away but returns to our site within that 30-day period, the purchase is still credited to the affiliate. When the user goes to a White Label, no cookies are left. If the user does not buy right away, the user is “lost” for the affiliate. If your site has a regular audience, users will sooner or later see the search form, get interested, and find and book a ticket.

Although brand strength is not decisive in ticket search, brand does influence recognition. Many people have already heard of Jetradar, making them more likely to use a search form with our logo than to use a search form without it.

With that in mind, use of White Label solutions is good for:

  • Traffic arbitrage – context ads (since context ads cannot be used with the Jetradar site and brand).
  • Large sites with strong brands and loyal audiences.\
  • Projects with technical limitations (such as cashback services).

For all other situations, you're best off with the strong Jetradar.com brand.

 

How to get more conversions

Our affiliate program has a system for detailed analysis. With reports, affiliates can see the differences in conversion between various sources, pages, and forms.

To increase conversion for a search form on your affiliate site, you can automatically fill in the relevant city pair in the form fields. This can be based on page content or the search query that drove the user to your page.

The location of a search form also affects conversion rates. We do not recommend putting a search form in a sidebar or in the page header. One of the best places for a search form is beneath the main text (if this is a travelogue entry or a page with trip highlights). Do not put the form in the middle of the text. Even if the user clicks the form, he or she will probably continue reading the article and may forget about a search form that has been opened in another tab.

For a search form to be visually distinguishable and attention-getting on the site, you can customize its appearance using our special tools. Note that search forms provide better conversion rates than do ordinary banners.

To improve conversions, you must also work to increase the share of “sales queries” that draw visitors to your site. If the affiliate site is based on a “main” writer or another person trusted by users, it is possible to put advice on the site about how and where to buy tickets. Even better is writing a short guide on how to buy. When users know how to find and buy a ticket, it's more likely that they will do so.

 

Sales queries

When comparing STR and income for queries, the worst results come from queries of the type:

"schedule, flights, distance, reviews, forum + random words where/how/without" + route.

For example:

  • Flights from Moscow to Paris.
  • Distance from Moscow to London.
  • How far is Moscow from Warsaw.

Queries of the type:

 "feedback" + airline

can bring sales, but context ads will not pay for themselves. Often people search for feedback on hotels; beware of these searches, as for popular routes, tourists will often use these queries to check the accommodations for package tours. These ads will not bring much money.

The best queries are those of the type:

"buy, price, tickets, cost, fly" + route

For example:

  • Buy ticket from Moscow to Tokyo
  • How much does it cost to fly from Moscow to Sochi

Requests for hotels:

hotel / name + city / country + booking / order

Don’t forget the stop words to exclude them from your campaign:

  • video; 
  • free; 
  • bar; 
  • vacancy; 
  • maid; 
  • transfer; 
  • review.

 

Peak user activity and seasonal variations

The tourism market is highly seasonal. User route preferences change throughout the year, which is something affiliates should keep in mind. In addition, 48% of all customers depart from Moscow (the lists below do not include package tours):

Winter

  1. Bangkok
  2. Munich
  3. Paris
  4. Vienna
  5. Berlin

Spring

  1. Tel-Aviv
  2. Istanbul
  3. Paris
  4. Barcelona
  5. Krasnodar

Summer

  1. Sochi
  2. Barcelona
  3. Burgas
  4. Tivat
  5. Simferopol

Fall

  1. Sochi
  2. Barcelona
  3. Tel-Aviv
  4. Tivat
  5. Paris

Other factors are at work in addition to the four seasons:

  • On weekdays, peak activity occurs at 3:00 PM Moscow time.
  • Wednesday is the peak earning day for site owners.
  • Demand falls on weekends because tickets are booked while at work.
  • Demand for specific routes grows before major events. Munich jumps ahead in the list during Oktoberfest. Sochi enjoyed growth in the runup to the Olympics, as Brazil will before the World Cup.
  • Activity dies down during long holiday periods (such as the May holidays and the New Year's period in Russia) – everyone is on vacation!
  • The second half of summer is a down period.

 

Markers and analytics

When creating your site, take care with traffic conversion. Traffic from different sites, pages, locations, and form types has different conversion rates. Special tools can help you pinpoint those that work best for you. Our affiliates have access to additional markers for this purpose.

An affiliate can put a marker on each traffic source, form, and affiliate link and conduct A/B testing. The marker can retain the site structure (main.germany.berlin.top) or the search queries that drew in users.

 

Referral program

In addition to earning from ticket and hotel bookings, affiliates can get money by bringing in new affiliates (referrals).

Our referral program is an excellent passive income source for our affiliates.

Ways to find new affiliates:

  • Forum signatures.
  • Case studies and reviews on blogs/forums (show your statistics and describe how it's done).
  • Recruit webmasters on tourism-related sites.

Don't forget about referrals even when things are already bustling: answer their questions and help them in various ways (ad coupons, keywords, ideas, case studies, software).

Advice: When sending your referral link, try masking it (such as with bit.ly). Many webmasters remove affiliate codes from their links, which means the referring affiliate doesn't get credit, even though this does not affect their income either way.

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