Travel and lifestyle bloggers often like to include links to hotels on destination guides, trip reports and vacation stories. But which hotel affiliate program is the best?
I’ve tried several hotel affiliate programs and I have been mostly happy with Booking,com. Read on for my Booking.com affiliate program review and tips for how to get the most out of the program as well as things to look out for.
By the way, if you would like to learn the ins and outs of affiliate marketing with plenty of other excellent tips for how to optimize your website then definitely sign up for the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course. It’s one of the most popular online courses for those who want to monetize their websites. Check it out now! Or read my review of the course here.
Booking.com Affiliate Review
Booking.com, Hotels.com, and Hotels Combined are three of the biggest hotel reservations affiliates around. Others include online travel agents like Expedia, Tripadvisor and Travelocity.
I’ve tried many of these hotel reservation affiliate programs and here is my Booking affiliate program review. Be sure to read my HotelsCombined affiliate program review too.
What is Booking.com?
A hotel reservations portal that is popular with users around the globe, Booking.com is part of the Priceline family. Guests like it because they can search for many hotels in one location, read reviews and see photos, and often they can reserve a room with free cancellation. Hotels like to participate because they can reach more potential guests by being part of a popular travel search engine.
Booking.com was started in the Netherlands and the headquarters are still in Amsterdam. Although it is part of the Priceline family and is known internationally in more than 180 countries, it still might be more popular with users in Europe. Something to consider when deciding what is best for your blog.
How the Booking Affiliate Program Works
Do you want to be a Booking.com affiliate partner? There are several ways to do this. You can sign up directly with Booking.com or you can sign up via one of the affiliate networks. Booking works with CJ and Awin.
Why would you go with an affiliate network when you can go direct? Perhaps you prefer the portal of the network or the terms are slightly different. Also, often the affiliate network has a minimum payment threshold but it is a combined total of all your affiliate partner earnings. This might be easier to achieve than the minimums working directly with Booking.com.
Booking.com offers links, banners and widgets to their affiliate partners. Install these on your site and when a visitor clicks the link and makes a reservation you will earn a commission.
Your commission amount is 25% of the Booking.com commission. If the visitor simply performs a search you may not get any commission. If the visitor books accommodations and completes the stay then you will get a percentage of the Booking.com commission.
How much is the Booking.com commission? This ranges from 15%-20% of the price of the stay. So if a visitor to your site clicks your affiliate link, then reserves a room for $100, then stays and pays – Booking will get $15 and you will get 25% of that which is $3.75.
To break it down, if the Booking commission is 15% and you get 25% of that, your commission on the total reservation is 3.75%. And if the Booking commission is 20% and you get 25% of that, your commission on the total reservation is 5%.
Most hotel affiliates like Booking.com only pay travel bloggers when the visitor clicks the link, reserves immediately and then does not cancel their reservation. You will see the commission in your account after the guest completes their stay and the hotel confirms the transaction. As you can imagine, this can sometimes take months.
Let’s say a visitor reads about a hotel in Paris on your website and clicks a link through to Booking.com. She reserves a room for her trip three months from now. If she doesn’t cancel the reservation, and that’s a big if, you will not have your commission confirmed until after she has stayed at the hotel AND the hotel has confirmed the stay with Booking.com. That can take another month after her stay is complete. Then you might have to wait another month for the Booking payment cycle.
Once you reach the minimum earnings of $100, you can be paid by Booking via Paypal or bank wire transfer.
Booking Links, Banners and Widgets
Booking offers the possibility to add links, deeplinks, search boxes and banner ads for use on your site. Go to the “Products” tab at the top of the page to see the options.
When you create links, banners and widgets be sure to add tracking codes – also called “labels” – so that you know which links are most effective. Do this by filling in the label input field in the text link or search box creator.
Links, search widgets and banners can go to a specific landing page for a city, region, or certain hotel. You can even set the language and currency.
Experiment with text links, banners and widgets on your site to see which is most effective. Be sure to try the Deals Finder and the Inspiring Search Box. Perhaps you’d like to link to certain hotels and then include a search box as well. Get creative and be sure to test different options to find out what your visitors respond to.
Booking.com Affiliate Tracking Interface
The Booking.com affiliate interface is not the best, but it is not the worst either. You can view your visitor clicks, pageviews and bookings in several ways.
Click the Performance tab to view graphs and tables showing visitor clicks, pageviews, conversion rates and bookings. You’ll see a graph at the top, scroll down to see the table. You can sort this information by day, week, month or year or view by specific products like search boxes or links.
The Performance page I use most often can be found under the tab Individual Bookings. You can sort by date to see what your visitors have actually reserved including the hotel name, date of stay, and your commission amounts.
If the row is highlighted pink the reservation was cancelled and you will not receive any commission. If the row is highlighted green it means the stay has been verified and you will receive commission. If it is white, it is still pending – perhaps the guests have not yet stayed or the hotel has not yet confirmed the stay.
You can download all the data as an Excel file or CSV file for your records.
Booking.com Program Pros
- The commission rates are quite generous and if your visitors book expensive lodgings you get a nice payment
- Booking.com has an enormous range of hotels and other lodgings to promote
- There are a wide selection of customizable banners, links and widgets you can add to your site
- Booking.com is a well-known company – especially in Europe, leading to trust with your visitors
- The affiliate interface is relatively easy to understand
- The website is available in many languages to fit with your local market and you can link to the local version of the site whether that’s Greece, Portugal or Canada
Booking.com Program Cons
- Due to the flexible cancellation policy, you may have a lot of cancellations by your visitors
- Some visitors may not be familiar with Booking.com and may not trust the site
- There is a $100 minimum payment threshold which may take a while to reach
- The cookie period is limited so if your visitor does not directly make a reservation after clicking your link you will not receive commission
- The approval and payment process can take ages, especially if your visitor made a reservation far in advance
Alternatives to Booking.com Affiliate Program
Travel bloggers should take a look at all of the hotel affiliate programs to see which works best for their readers. Hotels.com is probably Booking’s biggest competitor. You can sign up as an affiliate through CJ. You can also consider a travel website like Expedia or Travelocity.
Other options include search engine services like HotelsCombined which pay a commission if the visitor click and books, and it doesn’t matter if they cancel. You can read more about this affiliate program here.
You could also sign up to become an affiliate for hotel chains directly. Look for Hilton and Radisson Blu on Awin for example.
Turnkey Vacation Rentals is another option for earning affiliate income on holiday accommodations. Sign up for their affiliate program through Shareasale.
If you would like to learn the ins and outs of affiliate marketing with plenty of other excellent tips for how to optimize your website then sign up for the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course. It’s one of the most popular online courses for bloggers who want to monetize their websites. Check it out now! Or read my review of the course here.
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