Hotels.com Affiliate Program Review
As the name suggests Hotels.com is primarily a website where you can book hotel accommodation. Part of the Expedia group, it also offers a number of other services such as packages and flights.
According to Dun & Bradstreet, Hotels.com made approx $104m in 2020. It has been trading since 1991 but was bought out by Expedia 10 years later.
Hotels.com is available in 35 different languages. They have more than 80 localised versions of their website for different regions of the world.
Probably famous (or should that be infamous) for the ‘Captain Obvious’ advertising campaign.
You can sign up for their affiliate program via Commission Junction. You must apply to each program on Commission Junction separately. Unlike some other networks, for example, Clickbank. Should you be successful with your application then you can start getting some appropriate affiliate links to add to your site.
They have a number of options depending on the country that the booking is in. For the USA and Canada, the commission rates would be 4%. Unfortunately, if the hotel is in another region then this would drop to 3%. According to the details on cj.com you could earn up to 6% if you managed to drive a sufficient volume of business.
You only get a cookie duration of 7 days.
You should take note that commission is only payable on completed stays not bookings. This would seem fair enough since other programs would take back any commissions paid if the customer returned the product. They generally don’t payout during any refund guarantee period either.
You will only earn commission on hotel, package holidays or gift card sales (at a lower rate of 1%).
It appears to be one of the better-performing programs on Commission Junction. As an affiliate in the travel niche, this is likely to be one of the better candidates to target.
Looking at the information on cj.com you can get links direct to specific hotels should you wish.
You are not allowed to drive traffic via Twitter, Facebook or Facebook advertising without first seeking permission.
Just looking on CJ.com alone gives a large number of alternative affiliate programs in the travel niche.
Arguably even more famous than Hotels.com. Looking at the payout figures on Commission Junction would suggest that affiliates are having more success by promoting booking.com. Their 7-day and 3 months EPC (earnings per click) are roughly double those of Hotels.com.
The parent company of Hotels.com, they also have an affiliate program. According to the figures on cj.com it’s actually paying out slightly less than Hotels.com.
This is currently paying out some very nice commissions with their rates starting at 6%. Obviously, they don’t have the brand awareness of Hotels.com or booking.com but they make up for that given their current average payouts.
IHG (Intercontinental Hotels Group)
Featuring many famous hotel chains such as Crowne Plaza and Hilton among their stable. You can also sign up for their affiliate program via Commission Junction. At first glance, it doesn’t seem to be performing particularly well although they do offer a 3% commission.
Trivago’s affiliate program is not going to pay you a commission based on any sales. It will pay a small commission of around 30 cents when you forward traffic to their website. This type of offer is much easier to convert since all the user has to do is just take a look at the trivago website. However, you would need quite a lot of traffic clicking on the link in order to make a reasonable monthly income. For example, if you had 20 visitors per day that clicked on the link then that would give you an income of close to $200 a month. You’re only getting a 1 or 2% CTR (click-through rate) then that would mean you would need as many as 2000 visitors per day to your website.
This site generates its’ income from affiliate sales. It will pass on to you 50% of any commissions that it earns from the traffic that you have referred to it.
Another subsidiary of the Expedia group. Travelocity.com offers you the option of booking hotels, packages, flights etc.
The payouts vary depending on the product sold, with hotels earning you up to 4% commission. One advantage of the Travelocity program is that you can earn on many different products in comparison with Hotels.com. You are also able to benefit from a 45 day cookie.
Based on the figures on CJ.com this would appear to be another solid option. You will receive 3% commissions across most of the products that Priceline sell.
You can earn commission on hotel bookings, flights and car rental amongst others.
It would appear that you can drive traffic from social media as well unlike with Hotels.com.
As is usually the case in most niches the best long-term method is to have some form of blog or website. This can be your base camp for your content and affiliate links. You can then drive traffic to your website via a number of different methods.
Taking a look at the figures on Commission Junction it might be best to niche down to a more specific market. For example the EPC for Hotels.com – Norway over the last 3 months is €160.
This is significantly higher than the generic Hotels.com EPC. So taking this very simple view of the market you might decide to create a blog about holidays and travelling in Norway.
If you can manage to attract reasonable traffic to this blog then you could apply to Commission Junction to the Hotels.com – Norway program. Then apply those affiliate links to your site.
You could try creating a business travel blog where you review city centre hotels that business travellers are likely to use. You can then highlight any facilities both in the hotel or in the immediate surroundings that would be useful.
However you decide to promote you should remember that you need to have a website with traffic before trying to add affiliate links. Most, if not all, of the programs will do a manual check of your website before allowing you to join the program. They don’t want unprofessional sites linked to their brand.
What is the best travel affiliate program?
I don’t believe that there is a single program that you could describe as the best travel affiliate program. It really does depend on the type of blog and the type of traffic that you receive.
While some of the programs do pay slightly higher commissions that doesn’t necessarily mean more money in your pocket. Some of the higher commission programs may not convert as well as some of the lower-paying programs.
I would suggest that you try to tailor your offerings as best you can, based on the content on the page.
Is Hotels.com a Reputable site?
Like any business in this day and age it’s probably quite easy to find negative reviews of Hotels.com.
Unfortunately, it would seem that hotels.com has earned itself an unwanted reputation. It rates only 1.5 out of 5 on trustpilot.co.uk based on nearly 5000 reviews. Clearly, there is a lot of work required to rebuild their reputation.
Pros of joining Hotels.com affiliate program
- well established brand
- global scope
- frequent special offers for you to promote
- you can deep link directly to a specific hotel
- only a 7-day cookie
- commission rates on the low side
could be a long wait to get your commission as you won’t get it till the end of the stay
Hotels.com Affiliate Program Review: Conclusion
So should you sign up for the Hotels.com affiliate program?
I would say a tentative yes.
In spite of the negative reviews they still generate decent revenue.
If the hotels/locations that you are writing about are featured on Hotels.com they why not monetise them that way.
Try to highlight specific areas or hotels that are attracting particularly high earnings per click. Create specific content around those hotels and locations.