The move is being touted as the first personal affiliate scheme in travel (at least in the UK) and utilises different concepts including social networking, email marketing and good old fashioned travel agent-style commissions.
Run through OHG’s Holiday Nights accommodation-only B2C brand, Google Bypass is handing out ¬£25 to Facebook users if they refer a friend to a product on the system which they eventually buy.
The title of the scheme, Google Bypass, was clearly created for the PR value within the travel and web industries rather than making much sense to consumers – “no comment”, says CEO Steve Endacott, a figure not exactly known for his love of the Big G and the keyword advertising model.
Endacott claims Google takes on average around 75% of an agent’s (off or online) commission through PPC costs, so he would rather give the commission it would ordinarily pay to the search giant to an individual with, presumably, better loyalty and the chance of recommending a product or company again and again.
So how does it work?
- Holiday Nights customers are sent an invitation to participate.
- Each is given access to lists of offers within the system.
- Each offer has a unique identifying URL, matching the user to the product.
- Members of the scheme are then encouraged to send the URL around their various social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.
- When a friend or follower clicks on the link and makes a booking, the originator gets ¬£25 wired immediately via Paypal.
Much of the management of the system is contained within a Facebook application, meaning users can throw offers around their network easily and see how their various campaigns are performing.
Endacott predicts the scheme will be mostly taken on by individuals, rather than offline travel agencies.
Although currently limited to the bed-focused Holiday Nights brand, plans are in place to extend to other areas of the OHG business including its dynamic packaging service.
The idea behind the project (alongside presumably avoiding the Google cash drain) is to turn individuals into powerful advocates for a service or brand, an area once the preserve off the agent but now through networks such as Facebook allowing consumers to wade in.
Early stages of the project are “pretty good”, says Endacott.
Around 4,000 opt-in members of the Holiday Nights database were emailed last week. Approximately 150 registered and the average pass-on was to nine people. The early phase has generated nine bookings, totalling ¬£225 in commission.