Optimizing Hotel Affiliates – Interview With Stay22’s Fred Aouad

Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on December 18, 2023.

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Stay22 has seen a rapid rise in popularity in recent years from travel bloggers using their curated deep linking, maps with live API pricing, and pop-up tools to really supercharge their hotel affiliate earnings.

Jeremy has been particularly fond of Stay22 as the service helped him increase his travel blogs' affiliate revenue to over $1,000/month (a roughly 5x increase from past monthly averages). He shared more about why he loves the company in his full Stay22 review and also shared a tutorial on how to use Stay22 as well.

In this one, we sat down with Stay22's Chief Revenue Officer, Fred Aouad, to ask some burning questions about Stay22, how they got founded, why they are so useful to bloggers, and, of course, insider tips and advice. Let's get into it now!

Note: This article was sponsored by Stay22. As always, all opinions are our own.

1) Let’s start at the beginning. How did Stay22 come to be, and when did you start working with bloggers?

Stay22, in its original format, is the brainchild of CTO & Co-Founder Hamed Al-Khabbaz who struggled to find suitable accommodation for an e-sport event he was attending years ago in Cologne, Germany in 2016. He thought it was ridiculous that one could not look at all sorts of accommodation options via a map perspective.

He morphed his frustration into action and coded a solution. This is how our interactive map product was born.

We first started engaging with travel bloggers when Airbnb closed its affiliate program in March 2021. Contrary to our initial belief, Stay22 suffered the same fate as all bloggers and we lost access to Airbnb’s inventory a month after. Down on our luck, but surrounded by bloggers looking for new ways to monetize their travel content our CEO, Andrew Lockhead decided our path forward would be within the content creator community by getting to know them, understanding their needs and struggles, and doing everything in our power to answer those.

Fast forward to today, Stay22 has helped thousands of bloggers save time and earn more and also realize we have plenty of areas where we need to do more for content creators.

2) Stay22 talks about being a company that is all about “monetizing the travel intent” of a website owner’s audience. Can you speak to this mission statement in more depth and why it makes Stay22 different from other companies?

I see our relationship with our partners as a trade based on trust. Our partners (bloggers in this instance) have spent years building their reader base with the content they tirelessly create. Stay22 asks for permission to connect with those readers (via our embeddable products) in an effort to answer their travel needs. Everytime we help a reader book a travel service, it generates a commision and we share it with the partner.

The catch is that every blogger is different, each website is different, and every reader is different.

Stay22 has and will continue to develop itself with the above statement, and I believe this is what separates us gives us our competitive advantage. Our team takes the time to connect with each new potential partner (human to human, not a FAQ page!), research each blog (its traffic, its content, its current monetization methods, etc.), answer questions and offer recommendations. This makes for a much more customized and impactful approach to each blog owner and to each website.

On top of that, we use AI and Machine Learning to ensure we show the readers the right content, the right way at the right time. For example, a reader might have a very positive bias for Booking.com. Our technology will ensure they see relevant accommodations options via that specific OTA, at the right moment of his or her user flow of the website.

In summary, the more relevant the travel services shown to the readers are, the more conversions that are made. The more conversions there are, the more money our partners make. It’s all about aligning the interest of the reader, the blogger and Stay22.

3) What tools does Stay22 offer to help bloggers and creators? We know there are a number of affiliate revenue generation opportunities that we can utilize, so we’d love an overview of how bloggers can harness the power of Stay22.

Stay22 Map Generation

Here again, it's about showing the readers the right content, the right way at the right time. We, therefore, have various products to accomplish that. Depending on your content, your readership, etc. it could be an interactive map, our List View, our Allez affiliate link or our extremely popular AI driven script LetMeAllez.

All of them are free to use, help answer your readers travel needs, and allows you to monetize every time they are triggered.

I’d like to also point out that, it's not ONLY about “earning more”, but also about “saving time”. Our engineering team always keeps top of mind that the goal is PASSIVE revenue. A solution that is quick to install and deploy, and that helps bloggers monetize while they sleep or, well, travel!

4) From what you’ve seen, is there any type of content that performs better than others? Is it as simple as creating articles that showcase the best hotels in a destination, or are there other strategies that bloggers should consider? 

This is somewhat of a difficult question to answer, since we don’t create any content at Stay22 and there are a plethora of variables behind how well a blog monetizes its travel intent with our technology.

I am confident some of our most successful content creators would be better placed than I to explain the finer details. With that said, if your content is destination based, and you suggest accommodations options, I don’t see how you can go wrong.

5) How does the commission structure work for Stay22? We know that you mention that you’re “the highest converting accommodation solution you will ever see” but what should bloggers keep in mind to improve their bottom line?

Jeremy's Stay22 Commissions through April 25, 2023

We believe in revenue share partnerships at Stay22, with as much transparency as we are legally able to do.

The “money flow” is extremely simple. Everytime we answer your reader’s travel needs, it generates a commission coming from one of our suppliers (Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, VRBO, Kayak, TripAdvisor etc.) that we then share back with you, the partner. You are able to track this, with loads of other stats, directly through our partner Hub.

The biggest “trap” a blogger could fall into is to assume a direct affiliation relationship with an OTA, is by default, better than accessing that same brand via Stay22. It really depends on your circumstances.

Thanks to our volume, payment terms, technology and service, we’ve proven time and time again that we can hold a significant competitive edge versus direct affiliation with the OTA. For example, thanks to our technology I am very confident we can bring you more conversions/bookings, no matter what your commission structure with your favorite OTA.

6) What do you think makes Stay22 different from other affiliate networks? 

We are a tech company solely focused on monetizing the travel intent of your readers. All our tech, financial, and human resources are spent on the travel segment, to help you (the content creator) earn more and save time. It's a revenue share, so every time you win, so do we.

Stay22 currently offers the best technology on the market, drives the most conversions, offers the fastest payment terms and the best service.

7) Jeremy is a big fan of the POP tool via Let Me Allez. Can you share more about how the POP tool works and how it chooses who to target? Are there any settings bloggers should be taking advantage of to get the most out of this feature?

Certainly, the POP feature is aiming to capture the “left behind” travel intent. The readers who have travel intent, but did not click on your links for whatever reasons.

Our AI will judge every user differently and always in context with the content on page to ensure it only triggers a pop when it's needed. It will use a vast array of variables (for example amongst many others : IP location vs destination, amount of interactions on page) to create an “Intent Score” for each user.

Once the “Intent Score” reaches a certain threshold, the AI determines it is sufficient to show the user the most relevant travel service based on who they are, and what content they are consuming. Speaking of “Save time & Earn more”, the POP feature of Let Me Allez is the epitome of that, and truly is a way to build passive revenue.

8) What tools do you have available for bloggers to track their performance with Stay22?

Stay22 offers the Hub, as a performance dashboard and resource to all of its partners. In it, you can track bookings, performance, payments and much more, all in real time.

Though we still have loads of improvements possible on the reporting front to better empower bloggers with data and analysis, our in-house engineering and product teams are working on this
every day.

9) One thing we love about Stay22 is the level of support we receive from our point of contact. What pushed Stay22 to offer extra support like this and what topics should bloggers be discussing with their contact to ensure they’re getting the most out of the service?

Thank you for recognizing Stay22’s commitment to offer quality and human support and insight to its partners. I do believe our Partner Success team is doing an excellent job at that and I’m happy it shows.

It's how we’ve always approached business relationships. A lot of us started our careers in the hospitality industry, and know full well the power of human to human connections.

I’d recommend you speak to your Partner Success contact at Stay22, and ask for a quick chat/audit on all your websites. I am confident they can help you find ways to monetize, without much effort, where you currently don’t.

10) Finally, can you share anything new that may be coming to Stay22 in the near future that bloggers should be aware of?

Great question. I will insist on stating that Stay22 is still very new to the blogger world, and that we still have much to learn and do together. Rest assured we’ll be adding more supplier brands to our portfolio, improving reporting, and launching new products.

If you are looking for a teaser, I’d say get ready for more AI focused technology that will aim, again, to earn you more while saving you time!

Fred Aouad from Stay22
About Fred: Frederic Aouad joined Stay22 in mid-2019, seeing that its technology was a game-changer in travel media, ticketing, and events. With over a decade of travel industry experience, Frederic has held various leadership positions in which he has always taken a customer-centric approach to revenue generation. Identifying a customer’s need, providing a solution, and finding profit is his vision of what business is all about.

We'd like to thank Fred Aouad from Stay22 for taking the time to join us for this interview. To learn more about Stay22, click here. This interview was sponsored by Stay22 but, as always, all opinions are our own.

Looking for more content on Stay22? Don't forget to check out our Stay22 review and Stay22 guide, too!

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