Travel affiliates saw growth in overall bookings last yearNews / Distribution | OnlineBy Nick Vivion | July 10, 2014Share This article was originally published on Affiliate network CJ Affiliate by Conversant Media has released its latest report which benchmarks the performance of the travel category affiliates in its network. The report, available for download here, benchmarks the full 2013 calendar year against 2012. This sort of benchmarking demonstrates how much demand there is for travel products by consumers visiting the various third-party sites that make up the network. The metrics tracked are clicks, actual bookings, Average Booking Value, and Ratio of Consumption (the ratio of bookings that convert into completed sales). The performance for the affiliates in this particular network show significant growth: Hotel bookings were strongest, with both OTA and direct suppliers enjoying double digit growth.The average booking value is rising - except for car rentals. Hotels booked via OTAs grew 7%, besting direct suppliers' growth in average booking value of 3%.Air bookings are the core of the OTA business, as judged by overall actions. OTAs make up 76% of air bookings in the network, yet this segment dropped 2% year-over-year for the tracked OTAs.Direct is nearly dominant for car rentals. In this network, 98% of consumers go direct for rental cars, with a 2% increase year-over-year. As hotels and other travel providers grow ever more wary of the reach and control of OTAs, affiliates pushing traffic to direct suppliers offer a compelling strategic play to counteract the sheer volume of advertising dollars deployed by the OTAs. As OTAs deploy sheer financial force to increase volume sufficiently to increase bottom-line revenues, direct suppliers are pressed to be far more creative with how to capture incoming clicks. According to data from this network, direct suppliers on the hotel side are doing a far better job this year than last on capturing share of bookings: By targeting certain demographics that convert better via affiliate incentives, independent travel marketers and direct suppliers can increase return on invested dollars alongside larger metasearch and OTA players. As far as the average booking value, direct air providers are also doing quite well this year as far as holding firm on price increases implemented early on in the year. OTAs, amazingly, saw a drop in bookings but a jump in booking value - outpacing direct by nearly $100 throughout the entire year. Mobile usage growth - especially while travelers are in-destination - is another area that affiliates provide opportunities. Marketers can seek out specific in-destination content providers to target mid-trip travelers for more spontaneous sales. Using available data to ensure the most relevant offers targeted to the right demographic is a key point of this year's benchmark report: Looking into 2014 and beyond, it is clear that advertising success will be tied to how well advertisers use data to create marketing messages that speak to a consumer’s individual tastes and interests.Share this quote Especially for hotels and others that enjoy more data on customers, there's a unique opportunity to leverage this data into more effective affiliate campaigns and incentives. This is something that the OTAs have traditionally done better, given their deeper access to full trip data than a single vertical supplier, so hotels and other directs must consider exactly how the affiliate marketing strategy can play into its own Big Data ecosystem. For the full report, click here. NB: Big bill in sand image courtesy Shutterstock.