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 pleased with HotelsCombined. Read on for my HotelsCombined 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 are new to affiliate marketing I recommend first learning how to most effectively implement links into your site. 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!
HotelsCombined Affiliate Review
Hotels.com, Booking.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 HotelsCombined affiliate program review.
What is HotelsCombined?
HotelsCombined is a search site that offers a way to compare prices for accommodations like hotels, hostels and rental apartments. The site works by pulling data from several booking sites to find the best prices and availability. This can save time and money for the customer as they only need to perform the search once to see several options from sites like Expedia, Booking.com, Agoda and Hotels.com.
How the HotelsCombined Program Works
HotelsCombined 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 based on several factors. If the visitor simply performs a search you may not get any commission. If the visitor books accommodations then you will get a percentage of the HotelsCombined commission. Your commissions are also based on how much traffic you send to these sites over time and how many of the visitors simply perform a search and how many make a reservation.
You do not receive the full commission paid by the reservation site, instead you receive a portion of the HotelsCombined commission. For example if HC’s commission is $1 you could get 50 cents. The actual percentage you get is based on whether the visitor actually books accommodations and what percentage of your leads generate revenue overall.
Once you reach the minimum earnings of $100, you can be paid by Hotels Combined via Paypal or bank transfer.
HotelsCombined Links, Banners and Widgets
Hotels Combined offers links, deeplinks, search boxes, feeds and banner ads for use on your site. The new interface is really easy to use. Just click “Products” 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, or manually insert the “&Label=” parameter at the end of your affiliate links.
Products can be created in multiple languages and link directly to the local version of the site whether that’s USA, Portugal, Australia or Canada. You can also create a co-branded site and white label products.
HotelsCombined Affiliate Tracking Interface
The new affiliate interface is excellent. You can view your visitor clicks and transactions in several ways.
The main dashboard shows your earnings, visitor searches and conversion trends in a clean visual format with graphs and charts.
Generate Performance Reports to see visitor statistics by day, week or month. Break the information down further to see what devices the visitors are using to browse or which city they are searching for. Information can be shown in graph or table format and can also be downloaded as CSV files to view in Excel. These Performance Reports show clicks from your links that did and did not generate leads. You’ll see which earned a commission and which did not.
Go to Transaction Reports to see a list of the clicks that have generated a commission. You can see which labels have generated leads and even which hotels have been booked. The commissions, or lead value, is also shown. As mentioned above, be sure to add tracking codes to your links so that you can see which ones are most successful.
HotelsCombined Program Pros
- Unlike other hotel booking sites you can possibly earn a commission even if the visitor does not make a reservation
- Unlike other hotel booking sites you can earn a commission even if the visitor cancels their reservation later
- You are offering a service to your readers allowing them to find the best prices on accommodations
- The new HotelsCombined affiliate interface is easy to use and informative
- The banners and widgets are simple to create and look good
- HotelsCombined offers a co-branded solution as well
- 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
HotelsCombined Program Cons
- The commission per lead is usually $2 or less
- Some visitors may not be familiar with Hotels Combined and may not trust the site
- There is a $100 minimum payment threshold which may take a while to reach with the small commission amounts
- Hotels Combined has the right to close your account if you do not generate sufficient successful conversions, and you would not be paid! This is a bit scary.
- You can be paid via Paypal or bank transfer but the bank transfer minimum is $500 (except for Australia, where it is $100AUD)
- Generally it is not allowed to use HotelsCombined links on social media, but you can request permission for your account
Alternatives to HotelsCombined Affiliate Program
Travel bloggers should take a look at all of the hotel affiliate programs to see which works best for their readers.
Most hotel affiliates 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 take months.
Let’s say a visitor reads about a hotel in Maui 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.
While these affiliate programs generally pay a higher commission than Hotels Combined there may be a lot of waiting and uncertainty.
You can sign up for Hotels.com and Booking.com through CJ’s travel affiliate network or directly. You can also sign up directly to hotel chains as an affiliate. Look for Hilton and Radisson Blu, or Hotels.com UK 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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