Affiliate Travel Trends 2023: Your Passport to Profitable Partnerships

Our Travel Expert, Rosey Yazbek shares the findings of our latest travel survey and partnership with Internet Retailing which explores how UK consumers are adapting the way they travel in 2023.

Woman with suitcase making a travel purchase via an affiliate link.

Rosemary Yazbek, Business Development Manager, Travel at Rakuten AdvertisingRosemary Yazbek, Business Development Manager at Rakuten Advertising

In 2023, the UK travel sector is at a crossroads, shaped by a combination of exciting trends yet daunting challenges. Consumers are itching to escape and are prioritising travel over other expenditures.

Our recent UK travel survey proved it – a huge 78% of consumers want to book international trips this year. But it’s not all smooth sailing. The ongoing cost-of-living crisis is having a major impact on consumer behaviour as they look to keep their pennies in check.

To understand more about how UK consumers are adapting the way they plan to travel, we surveyed 500 consumers to uncover their ever-changing travel purchasing habits. Here are some of our key findings:

We’ve seen a whole tribe of savvy travellers emerge

Price is the primary driver in the decision-making process. Our survey revealed that 46% of consumers are putting in the extra work – researching like detectives and hunting down discounts and incentives to get the best bang for their buck. They’re like ninjas, comparing accommodation options across multiple aggregators and then seeking out vouchers, cashback, and loyalty websites to nab the best possible deal.

Playing the long game

49% of consumers are actively seeking out travel loyalty programmes when making travel purchases. Working with a wide range of publishers will help to deliver both upper and lower-funnel activity to reach and engage with globetrotters. It’s important to play the long game: Even if someone isn’t ready to book right now, affiliate marketing can ensure your brand remains front of mind from the dream phase to planning, booking and beyond.

Cashback is king!

This is the number one benefit that price-conscious consumers are looking for when booking travel. 46% of consumers stated that they will seek out cashback partners when making a purchase. This is followed by points/rewards (45%) and airline miles (31%) Consumers want to save money rather than build up long-term loyalty programmes. Working with partners such as Quidco, TopCashback and Head for Points is a great way to incentivise consumers to take the plunge and book.

Social Media & #TravelInspo

Digital-savvy travellers are looking to social media for #travelinspo. Our research shows that nearly 40% of consumers have booked a trip based on influencers they follow. This means that incorporating influencers on an affiliate or hybrid payment model is more important today than ever before.

Flexible & Refundable Bookings

With the uncertainty of finances, it’s no wonder that travellers are placing more importance on flexible and refundable bookings. We’ve been using tactical commission rates, and we’ve helped our brands protect margins. For example, we worked with a leading hotel brand to implement a dynamic commissioning strategy to pay publishers a higher commission for non-refundable bookings vs. a lower commission for bookings with free cancellations.

Travel Benefits

Consumers are increasingly looking for travel perks when choosing a financial services product. However, airline points are no longer the most desirable benefit. Nearly half of consumers (46%) want hotel points, 41% would like airline points and 35% would go for travel insurance benefits. The return of travel post-Covid has generated new consumer expectations for and attitudes towards travel: they are taking more control over their booking process and they are searching for preferred travel perks.

With holidaymakers becoming smarter in how they book their trips, the travel industry has had to level up and cater to these ever-changing consumer priorities to keep afloat.  If you’re already riding the affiliate marketing wave, it’s time to fine-tune your approach to ensure you’re reaching your desired audience and driving them to convert.

To uncover more insights about the UK travel market, we’ve recently partnered with our friends at InternetRetailing to produce their first UK Travel Sector Report. This all-encompassing study of the UK travel industry includes an extensive market review, insights into the top 50 retailers and detailed profiles shedding light on the key players in the travel sector.

Download FREE full report here

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