SAN FRANCISCO: Travel brands are using performance-based partner marketing programs to successfully drive both customer acquisition and retention, according to a new survey.

A survey of executives representing leading global travel brands by Performance Horizon, a provider of software solutions for digital partner marketing, found near universal agreement that data from marketing partners was enabling better business decisions: 93% said it was important to them.

Performance marketing also emerged as a driver of a significant share of revenue, as 59% of respondents indicated it was responsible for at least 20% of overall revenues; 17% generated above 60% of their overall revenue via performance-based marketing partners.

And, unexpectedly, 20% of respondents reported that they used their performance-marketing channel for customer retention – a non-traditional use of affiliate programs.

Less surprising was the continued growth of mobile as a sales channel. Almost all travel brands expected mobile conversions to increase this year, whether via app (87%) or mobile web (97%).

Another growing trend highlighted by the research was the use of third-party organisations or technologies to evaluate performance-based partner marketing efforts. Six in ten (61%) follow this route, the rest continuing to benchmark performance internally.

The report further noted the growing need for data and insights around transparency, fraud, contribution, and attribution to support business decision-making.

"The travel industry is highly competitive, with complex customer journeys and more touch points, channels and devices than ever before," said Erik Mikisch, VP/Marketing at Performance Horizon.

"Increasingly, partner marketing has risen in popularity due to its substantial return on investment, which essentially provides brands an opportunity to further focus budgets on revenue-generating activities they can easily measure."

Data sourced from Performance Horizon; additional content by Warc staff