1 DEC, 2012
There are prominent signs all around us of a sea change. My clients in the travel business frequently talk about how they are trying to compensate for the decrease in profits from air ticket sales by offering a variety of services. That helps of course but more important is how one distributes these services in the fastest possible manner to the most distant markets. I feel the answer lies in one of the oldest practices of travel business – Affiliate networks
Affiliate Networks in Travel Industry: Similar to Social Networks
The travel industry is the one of the oldest social networks. Even before Facebook, LinkedIn and twitter became such a rage for promoting business, the travel fraternity, through its network of affiliates and alliances, was using the principles of social networking to share its offerings and to reach out to markets.
Although the technology wasn’t there, this old school “travel social network” was a highly effective one. In a business where co-operation and sharing of services made the difference between success and failure, sharing ones service offerings with the farthest corners of the world remained and still remains the key.
Does this mean the travel affiliate network is a social network? Actually no, it is something much more but the principles that govern a social network are also very relevant to an affiliate network.
So what has changed? In an era of travel technology and ecommerce, reaching out to affiliates and sharing the right set of services is one of the strategic decisions that travel businesses have to take. While social networking platforms help, the biggest challenge today is how to effectively share your services to more and more affiliates across the world.
Setting up an affiliate network is not just about letting them know that you exist. It is about making your affiliate a part of your business process and about sharing relevant offerings that bring long term business value. The benefits would be immediate. Just like the “likes” on your social page define your popularity on the web, the “connects “in your affiliate network would define your reach and scalability.
Technology platform to empower travel affiliate network
The question is – Can we package the complexity of travel e-commerce and the simplicity of sharing on a social network, into one “easy to use” technology platform? Affiliate management technology today has reached a level of maturity that encompasses this thought.
There is another way to look at it. A hundred years ago the biggest barrier in travel business was communication. Although we were able to tide over this shortcoming through innovation in technology, other barriers emerged. Today the challenges in the fuel and energy industry are as relevant as the challenges, due to lack of communication technology, all those year ago.
If we are asked to rethink the most important driver of doing business in the travel domain today, I would say that it is time to go back to the basics. How can we adopt the old way of thinking in this new age? How can we evolve a business landscape where every travel entity, in some way, is a part of someone’s extended network?
Is it time to have a serious look at the degrees of separation between travel businesses and their affiliates?
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