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 ....so 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.
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 Hotels.com 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!!!
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.......
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 www.ownatravelbusiness.com 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 booking.com 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 :)