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Can anyone advise whether affiliate programs with say large suppliers actually generate any real cash (for the affiliate)
I am considering setting up a site that is ENTIRELY affiliate programs to many major travel suppliers. Is this sane or not??

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Hi Darren
My thought was if it was possible to make an income ENTIRELY by using affilates and the general view seems to be it is difficult if not impossible, however one or two on a site seem like agood idea. Links such as Karens link to an accommodation comparison site seem useful.
However we are still in the development stage of a new site so we have a lot of things to consider.
My team suggested that we put a notice saying all our flights were Terminal 5 exempt might get a few of the wiser travellers.
Imagine having the BAA as a link??
Sorry Tom I misread your question.
I thought you were a travel agency looking to promote your company through affiliate advertising.

In that case I'll answer the same as Alex - it depends.

Primarily it depends on the traffic and what other service or product you have on that site. I don't think an affiliate only site works without spending a lot of money on PPC etc. Look at sites like Holiday Watchdog which was bought by Expedia/Trip Advisor for £10million, and was earning a fortune on affiliate advertising, but had an additional services, i.e holiday reviews and a brand
I just found this which I thought was interesting.

From the Google webmaster centre

If your site participates in an affiliate program, make sure that your site adds value. Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first.
And I can add that from personal experience, you need to add a LOT of unique and relevant extra content if you want to be successful with an affiliate site. Also, Google has come out saying that if you're just going to put up a copy of an affiliate site with nothing of your own on it, it will most likely have a VERY hard time competing in Adsense (let alone organic search). It's one of the 5 areas that they've specifically mentioned (the others being things like e-books etc.). So from Google's perspective this clearly shows they are seeing a lot of duplicate stuff in the travel space that they want to cut out unless it has some other way of adding value to the searcher.

Bottom line is, if you have a site with existing content and traffic you might make some extra dollars slapping on a relevant affiliate program. If you're going to set up a separate site just based on affiliate stuff, then be prepared to lose money and time (you'll be playing with the top notch black hat spammers in that department without a doubt and they definitely know what they're doing :)).

This is a brilliant discussion, even though it goes back to 2008!

It covers some very important points to consider when deciding about affiliate programs.


I haven't done my full research into this yet but it seems to me, from what I can gather from all these non-transactional sites (see tnooz for examples) the big ones being Nile Guide, Travelmuse, Gogobot, Lonely Planet and many other sites, who do not provide sell travel products directly say as Expedia, Booking, Orbitz or others but they seem to be afloat for a few years.

The key to an affiliate program is to provide "other forms of content or useful offering" as in gogobot providing social travel, travelmuse travel planning they drive traffic through these offering and make money on that traffic after and you may have noticed a lot of them are also "surviving" (?) on the advertising model.


Alternatively you could sell travel products through white-labelling, so co-branded as Kayak recently have been doing. 


But still no hard facts as to whether affiliate programs are financially viable and if so how big is the pie?


Great discussion people.

Hi there,

great discussion indeed. I am looking at creating a travel guide website with lots of unique and relevant content and the aim to generate money through affiliate programmes, adsense and white label marketing (hopefully).


The website is aimed at a foreign market and will be set up in the local language as the majority of people there do not speak much or any English and there are as yet very few (if any) useful travel guide websites around. Just as Lost I am also wondering whether affiliate programmes are financially viable and would like to know if people have experience with big copanies such as or Hostelworld in terms of commission and possible revenue.

I would also like to know whether people would recommend getting a professional to design the site or try working with a website creator such as webnode, weebly etc. I am starting this with limited knowledge of web design and whilst I would be able to get my head around designing the site with a website creator programme I am not sure how difficult it would be to add affiliates etc to this sort of site. There might also be other disadvantages to using this sort of site (in terms of SEO or other things) that I am not aware off so any experience other people have made would be greatly appreciated.

At the same time I will be adding lots of content over the next few months so need a website which allows me to do lots myself without having to get back to the developer every couple of days...

I think the market I am aiming for is great and the idea would work well but I am currently struggling with the technicalities and am vary of investing lots of money upfront...

Would love to hear from some of you... Great forum by the way!!!

Hi Judith

I know this isn't the answer you are looking for - but my top advice would be to partner with a web designer who shares your vision. However you do it, you are going to end up requiring tweaks and changes to your website on an ongoing basis.... that will soon become too costly if you are paying for that as a commercial web design service.

Hence if you can find a partner who has those skills - they can do that - you can provide the content - and you will be able to build a business.

Alternatively, if that is alien to what you want to do, howabout you spending a month learning about web design..... again with the intention of cutting down your bills subsequently. 

With the (light) revenues from a small travel guide you are not going to have much choice but to either do some of the technical work yourself - or partner with someone (perhaps on a shared equity deal) who will put in uncosted time to build up the website.......

Hi Tom,

Only ten years late to reply, but here goes.

In 2018 the answer is Yes you can but it depends lol.

Technology wise it is easier than ever, just purchase a fully installed and configured Turnkey Travel Package from a service such as at for as little as $147 (note self promotion) and you're good to go!.

Then you can start making money, simple, yes, well not quite.

The main sticking point is that you need to get potential customers to see your new shiny Travel Website.

Well you could spend a fortune on Google Adwords but you will most likely spend more on ads than you get back in affiliate commission.

The recommended option is to get organic traffic from the Search engines, Google, Bing Yahoo and from Socail media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. To do this you need to create your own unique content and as a rule of thumb you need to create a good quality information page of around 500 words for each product/hotel/accommodation/tour that you're promoting.

This may seem daunting if you were planning on competing with say as you would need to write around 500,000 hotel descriptions.

Don't worry there are still viable options and these involve targeting niche resorts and locations.

Do your research and shortlist a number of possible target niches that have the right manageable combination of potential visitors, attractions and accommodation. 

A good starting point would be to aim to create around 100 pages of unique content.

If writing is not your forte, then be prepared to pay around $15-$20 dollars to have the copy written for you by a copy writing service and you'll also need to purchase some good images so budget more dollars for this.

Now, I'm not trying to put you off, but just being realistic about the true costs of starting a potentially profitable online travel business. 

It can be done but it will cost real money and time to setup

It can also be profitable but nothing is guaranteed :)





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