Last week the Affiliate team were lucky enough to attend the annual ‘Affiliate Huddle’ conference, taking place for its 4th year in central London.
Held in its new home of the contemporary Congress Centre in the heart of Bloomsbury, the day turned out to be an interesting and informative mix of talks, debates and discussions about the past, present and predictions into the future of Affiliate & Performance Marketing.
In part one of our roundup, we look at the topic of Affiliates in the travel sector.
On a particularly interesting travel panel involving the likes of Thomas Cook Airlines, Hotels.com and our own Affiliate partner Weather2Travel, the debate was set out from the very beginning to discuss ways to overcome external factors, such as the aforementioned ‘tentpole’ moments of 2016 that caused such shock. The talk swiftly moved to mobile, discussing how the shift in the mobile consumer hasn’t necessarily converted to bookings in travel on mobile. In the fight to give consumers lots of choice, how do you then translate that to a simpler concept on a small device? Consumers aren’t going to scroll through and compare 25 options for flights/hotels combinations on such a small screen, so there needs to be a change of tact for this type of consumer to perhaps last minute bookings. Interestingly this didn’t extend to the APAC region, with over 50% of travel bookings taking place on devices.
There was also debate about the value of apps, as well as how best to track the customer through different stages of web to app processes. Should we be rewarding partners for App downloads? The discussion seemed to move towards no; simply as there wasn’t evidence to say that downloading an app really drove purchase patterns. There was also further discussion around Google. The discussion around Google centred on them as being either a foe, friend, or both? Whilst there was a danger that by working with Google the brand would essentially ‘lose’ that customer, the upsell was that they would at least gain the sale. The recent EU judgment into Google’s comparison practices for retail may now affect future work with travel.
Finally influencers were also up for discussion. The buzzword of 2016/17 caused debate around the main challenges with the sector, which seemed to revolve around company silos, with no consensus about ‘where’ influencers should sit. They’re currently locked in heavily with Social and PR teams, so barriers need to be broken down for knowledge sharing with the Affiliate and Performance teams to gain real insight into their role in the wider business and marketing aspects. The panel all felt that Expedia were the ones to watch; they’ve recently hired their first ever ‘Influencer Marketing Manager’ and have stated in the past they have flexible payment models, so much could ride on how it seems to work for them. One agreement to be had was that 0% commissions (as offered by Ryanair) were not feasible; not much surprise there I guess!
Alastair Kidner, Account Director
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