What Are Hotel Affiliate Programs?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen
Some hotels offer upgraded room assignments and other perks for loyal customers.
Some hotels offer upgraded room assignments and other perks for loyal customers.

Hotel affiliate programs provide webmasters and bloggers with the opportunity to earn commissions by placing links to hotels or hotel reservation services on their sites. When site visitors click on these links and then reserve and pay for a hotel room, the site owner earns a commission from the sale. In addition to providing income for website owners, hotel affiliate programs provide both hotels and hotel reservation services with cost-efficient advertising. The hotel or reservation service only has to pay for this advertising if a sale is actually made to a customer.

Many hotel affiliate programs appeal to owners of travel websites and bloggers who write about travel, though owners of more general sites may also participate in these programs. Depending on the structure of the affiliate program, site owners may place banner ads for hotels and hotel chains on their websites or may include links to specific hotels and chains within their site copy. As readers click on these links or ads, they are brought to the website of the hotel or hotel reservation service, where they may choose to book a hotel room. The website owner will typically receive his commission weeks or even months after the reader actually pays for his hotel room so as to minimize the risk of paying an affiliate commission on a canceled reservation.

While some companies may manage their own hotel affiliate programs, many are actually managed through third-party services. These services typically handle the financial aspects of affiliate program management and may also host advertising graphics and links. These services may also act as a matchmaker between hotel affiliate programs and website owners, permitting website owners to select the affiliate programs that appeal to them while also enforcing approval standards set by advertisers. In many cases, these third-party affiliate management companies also provide fraud detection services, which can protect the integrity of the affiliate process and ensure that advertiser money is paid out to bona fide customers generated by a website.

Critics of hotel affiliate programs as well as affiliate programs for other types of businesses may argue that the affiliate sales process can make it difficult for online readers to discern between legitimate reviews of hotels and so-called advertorials published for the express purpose generating affiliate commissions. Some webmasters as well as affiliate advertisers have established policies that disclose affiliate relationships. These disclosures can help readers determine the credibility of online content concerning hotels.

Discussion Comments


@NathanG - Just find a consumer travel magazine and visit its website. These sites are legitimate. I see how the affiliate programs are okay in their own way however.

Webmasters have to pay fees and stuff to keep their sites going, so using paying affiliate programs to help subsidize the costs makes sense in my opinion.

The only caveat I’d offer is that the hotel program is probably not one of the best affiliate programs going on, because you have to wait to make sure a reservation has not been canceled to get your money. I think you’re better off with affiliate programs that offer instant gratification, like selling ebooks for example.


@everetra - That’s true. I also think that the advertorial nature of so much Internet content has muddied the waters. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone to a site offering to “review” a product or service, only to discover that the site was nothing more than a sales page slickly packaged as an article review.

How are people supposed to tell the difference between what is real and what is not? I just want an objective comparison of places to stay, along with their hotel rates and any specials.


While I think that the hotel affiliate program is a great idea, there is one problem. Most people looking to book hotels online aren’t usually reading “advertorials” in my opinion.

Instead they go to dedicated travel and hotel price comparison sites. In other words they do their own research so that they can get the best deals. Sometimes they can get good deals if they bundle their flying reservations with nearby hotels at their destinations.

At any rate, I don’t think these people are going to make a reservation simply by clicking on a banner ad at a travel site.

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    • Some hotels offer upgraded room assignments and other perks for loyal customers.
      By: Berni
      Some hotels offer upgraded room assignments and other perks for loyal customers.