Travel guidebooks used to be the go-to resources before the internet of things and a popular brand we all know is called Lonely Planet. After 40 years, they are still publishing those blue books that inspire us to go to places. If you’re planning to make money while traveling, this label may have come under your radar.
So in today’s review, we are going to explore the opportunities that come with the Lonely Planet affiliate program and find out if this is something worth promoting on your blog.
Who Are Your Targeted Audience
Travel publications are the highlight of Lonely Planet’s products and they come in both physical and digital formats. On its main online store, one can find the all-time popular guide books, travel inspiration books, non-fiction for kids, language series as well as travel magazines.
As such, a wide range of groups can benefit from buying these publications online;
- Budget or seasonal travelers
- Individual who are interested to learn or teach a new foreign language
- Educators or parents who want to use travel storybooks to teach young children
- Organization or business settings who are looking to create a library of travel books
Meanwhile, Lonely Planet is also branching out to booking services like flight/hotels and sightseeing tours through Booking.com. However, they have yet to include commissions from these transactions so it’s something worth checking out in the near future.
If you’re really interested in partnering with a travel reservation site, you should read my Skyscanner review here instead.
The Lonely Planet Affiliate Offers
Lonely Planet has three entry points to its affiliate program via three different networks. All are free to join (except for one) and all will require you to set up a travel blog before applying. For sales coming through the official store, you need to sign up with CJ Affiliate (for the Asia Pacific) or AWIN (for UK and Americas).
Both CJ and AWIN offer the same thing – a 30-day cookie and 15% commission on all print and digital book sales online. This means, if the product costs $20, you make $3 per sale. In the case of AWIN, you need to pay a $5 verification fee which will be refunded upon your next commission payout.
The third one is to affiliate with Amazon through its associate program which lets you refer customers to the marketplace library. The cookie duration here only lasts for 24 hours and your commission rate is worth 4.5%. That translates to a 90 cent profit for the sale of a $20 book.
With these numbers in mind, how do you go about choosing a network and what sort of challenges should you anticipate with these products? Let’s dig deeper.
Lonely Planet Affiliate Program Key Highlights
Before recommending anything as an affiliate, we need to first look at the product itself (Lonely Planet books) and the market opportunities (the online travel niche) and see how those two can benefit you as a blogger.
(1) In the case of branding, the company is reputable for publishing good quality travel books written by experts. These resources are rich with information and colorful pictures which makes them very interesting content to read. Whether it’s Asia or Africa, you can surely find a book to complement your blog posts or destination reviews.
(2) On Amazon, there are many stellar reviews for Lonely Planet books. Most readers find that it provides ‘great history and background information’ and serves as a ‘well-organized comprehensive reference in one place’. Others feel that it is ‘great for first-time visitors’ and ‘makes a great gift for travelers’.
Backed with these positive reviews, you may have higher chances of converting sales as an Amazon associate.
(3) The official store regularly offers a ‘Buy 2, Free 1’ sales for all books – physical or digital – plus free shipping (for the US and Canada). If customer shopping value is your top priority, then joining CJ or AWIN will serve that purpose well, in addition to the higher commission gains.
While on these networks, you can also check out other travel sites to be affiliated with and diverse your online income. Travel passes, insurances and luggage recommendations are among some interesting products/services to add to your affiliate offers.
(4) As more people use the internet for their travel searches, new queries are being created daily and thus more keywords can be used to target an audience. Remember the group spectrum that can benefit from Lonely Product books which I mentioned earlier?
Here are some long-tail keywords to capture these visitors to your blog. Feel free to use them.
best travel guides for Europe
lonely planet new york travel guide
where to visit in Hawaii for the first time
the travel atlas by lonely planet
lonely planet calendar 2020
bedtime storybooks for children
best picture books for children
how to learn Japanese by yourself
best food tours in Bangkok
famous festivals around the world
The Downsides of Affiliating with the Program
Here’s the irony. With a brand so established in the travel industry, you may think that nothing could go wrong promoting a popular brand online. Well, here are some realities that could work against your marketing efforts.
(1) Lonely Planet books aren’t sold exclusively online and they are available in most major bookstores worldwide. A reader who fancies physical books may read something interesting on your blog and still end up buying from a store. In this case, you won’t earn any commission even though you’ve provided informational value in the first place.
(2) On the other side, light travelers may choose digital books for convenience. While the main store offers multiple formats for this, the only version available on Amazon comes in the form of Kindle.
Not sure if you realized, but the market for Kindle products is dwindling in recent years as smartphones become more versatile. In between the two, I am pretty sure more travelers will prefer to carry smartphones over Kindles while they travel.
(3) Based on recent data obtained from the first two networks, it’s quite obvious that the program isn’t as high performing as other travel sites. Lonely Planet claims that it has a ‘strong conversion at 5%’ at its main website but on CJ Affiliate, the company’s network earning only stands at 2 out of 5 while at AWIN, the performance index is just at about 60%.
In other words, the affiliate conversion on these two networks hasn’t been that great for the past few months. I suspect this could be due to the absence of customer reviews on the main online store and that the prices are slightly more expensive compared to Amazon.
(4) One of the challenges for travel guidebooks to stay in business is to always offer up-to-date and relevant information. When these two elements are compromised, users are left disappointed and are less likely to return to the same resources for their next trip planning.
This has happened to Lonely Planet in the past and it’s widely discussed by a renowned traveler on his blog post here. As a result, many users have turned to newer guidebooks or simply search online where they can obtain the latest information with better accuracy.
So, Is Lonely Planet Affiliate Program Worth Joining?
The best way to answer this question is to buy a guidebook and go through the pages yourself. Even better, do an experimental trip using the information and see if it gets you to places. This will help you gauge what the books are good for and what to avoid.
My guess is that the product will appeal to first-time travelers and people who are loyal to the brand. Those who are skillful at researching stuff online and are more tech-savvy may be less inclined to buy their guidebooks.
Ultimately, the level of conversion will determine whether the guidebooks are worth promoting or not. If it’s bringing in some revenue, optimize and scale your product review. If it isn’t, then it’s probably not the product your audience is searching for.
I hope this Lonely Planet affiliate program review has helped you think outside of the box when it comes to choosing a travel product for your blog. Please check out my recommended platform to learn more about building a successful affiliate business and if you’ve anything else to add to this post, I would love to hear about your comments down below.