At the time of this writing in early April of 2020, we are currently in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic—a situation that none of us will soon forget.
Countless lessons are presenting themselves in these tough times, especially for those of us in the hard-hit travel industry.
One lesson that I hope will stick with you is how important it is to diversify. As the last 30 days have taught us, your stream of income can completely disappear overnight. In times like these, a parachute becomes not just a “nice to have” but a necessity.
Maybe some of you are (understandably) stitching together parachutes that are outside of the vacation rental/small accommodations industry altogether.
But for those of you sticking it out with your vacation rental business, I’m going to offer you some tips and tricks to get additional, stable income from your rental once things get going again.
(And they will.)
We call this little jewel “affiliate income.” It’s not a magic bullet, by any means, and it won’t rescue your business overnight. Especially right now. But if your website gets >20,000 hits a year, this form of passive income might be for you.
What is Affiliate Income for Vacation Rentals? Is it “Evil”?
I have been eyeing affiliate income for years, with an inkling that recommending products and services related to my rental and destination was a solid way to diversify.
At first, after talking to a few marketing gurus who told me it wasn’t an “authentic” way to make income, I was discouraged and closed the door on that idea.
Then my entire business model changed (yep, overnight!) and I decided to explore affiliate income streams once again.
After digging a little deeper, I realized that affiliate can be a win-win if done with the right heart and spirit. It can help support other businesses and connect your guests with products and services that they’ll enjoy. Plus, the affiliate only gets paid once the consumer purchase is complete and is happy with their purchase.
In short, there is a big difference between affiliate sites that throw up a link to capture a commission, versus those based on honest recommendations from knowledgable folks.
So keep this in mind: your site will succeed based on the quality of your recommendations. So, in order to be authentic, make sure you are recommending products or services that you know, like, have used, or have heard good things about from multiple, unbiased sources.
Remember, your reputation is on the line!
Affiliate will never replace your vacation rental’s revenue from guest stays. Not by a long shot! But it is a “set it and forget it” endeavor that allows you to have a separate stream of income that is easy and cost-effective to set up.
The idea is simple:
- Create a blog posts on your website that links to places where guests can purchase your favorite furnishings, art, textiles and local activities.
- Hook those links up to an affiliate account.
- If guests click and buy through your website, you could get a small commission from the supplier.
This is not a new idea and has happened for years in different forms. This is just a modern day version of an age-old practice.
(Affiliate income isn’t the only way to monetize your operation…check out this free download with all of my tips for creating additional revenue sources at your vacation rental!)
Will Affiliate Work For My Vacation Rental?
Do you have your own website that takes bookings for your vacation rental? Do you give recommendations for local activities? Are you interior design-aware? Do you care about the look of your vacation rental? Do you have guests who praise your décor or ask questions like, “Where did you get your towels/mattress/linens?”
If so, then affiliate might be for you. Then, the next time a guest asks about your throw pillows, you can simply drop a link to your “Shop My Place” post. Saves you some hassle, and may just make you money, too.
For example, after lots of inquiries from TDG clients and guests about the products I use at my own rental, I created a “Shop My Place” post so that I could share them with affiliate links to the products I’ve been using for years at my Kauai vacation rental.
Take this idea and make it your own!
Who Offers Affiliate?
You’d be surprised how many vendors and home goods stores have affiliate opportunities, including Amazon, Pottery Barn, World Market and Target, among others.
One thing to keep in mind: larger vendors like Amazon have certain requirements you have to fulfill in order to receive your commission. First, of course, you have to have your own website. Not only that, but you have to make sure that website is active—that is to say, updated frequently.
This is where having a content marketing plan (blog posts) for your website comes in. Unfortunately, it’s tough to make money from affiliate if you have a “set it and forget it” vacation rental website. The good news is, having fresh, interesting content on your vacation rentals also helps with driving traffic and getting direct bookings from guests (#bookdirect).
Affiliate Programs for Beginners
Since time is the new currency, here’s a little “roadmap to affiliate income for vacation rentals.”
First, start with the large affiliates:
This is a quick and easy way to dip your toe in.
Then, once you have fully integrated these big players into your website, you may decide to move on to creative ways to work with your local vendors. That includes everyone from local design firms to small-scale artisans/designers to tour operators.
(This might require a bit more of your time, which is why we recommend setting up the large in place affiliates first.)
To reach out to other locals, create a list and contact them directly. From there, ask them if they have a preferred affiliate software that they already use. If they do not be prepared to recommend one (more on this later!).
Blog Post Ideas for Affiliate Income
If you have a well-trafficked website, your blog will be the place to house all of your affiliate recommendations under an umbrella topic that’s helpful and informative.
Below are a few ideas to get you started, but really, the options are many.
- What to Pack
- The Top 5 Events in [Destination] in February
- Top 10 Attractions You Should Not Miss in [Destination]
- Shop my Place
You can even work these blog posts into a drip campaign prior to your guests’ arrival. Send them a short and sweet email directing them to your “What to Pack” post, and they might take you up on some of your great ideas. Boom! Quick commission.
Remember to make your recommendations specific. For example, in Kauai, we are required to use sunblock that is reef safe. Not everyone realizes that this type of sunblock exist so that is an excellent example of items to pack.
Stay tuned to TDG for more posts and ideas about affiliate income for vacation rentals, and in the meantime, stay healthy and safe out there! ❤️