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Interview with Louise Daubenton, Travelstart


Our December profile is Louise Daubenton, Head of Partnerships & Commercials at market leading online travel shop Travelstart. Working in senior Affiliate Manager roles across various industries for more than a decade has given her a unique and deep understanding of the affiliate marketing industry and the changes it has gone through in recent years.

Describe yourself in three words.

Animated, Relationship-focused, Passionate.

Tell us a bit about your first job in Affiliate Marketing

I started in the gambling call centre, and within 2 years jumped into the affiliate world. This started my passion for building long-lasting relationships that would directly impact the company and the customer.

Back then, the world of affiliates was still quite new to the South African market, and we were able to learn a lot through doing. We were able to educate current affiliates, as well as bring in new affiliates that would be able to earn commission for themselves. We were learning with them, and looking back, it was the best way to tackle being an affiliate manager.

You have worked in the affiliate industry for the past 12 years. What are the biggest changes you have seen?

How to keep up with the latest trends and continue to move forward. We have evolved from inserting a simple text link or banner in a mailer, to now full micro-sites, sponsored social posts, publisher networks and more. Being an affiliate is a great way to earn income, but it needs to be nurtured and continuously improved upon.

We have seen our Travelstart affiliates rise up from the ashes of the pandemic and take the challenge of rebuilding in a post-covid world.

Describe the ideal Travelstart Affiliate Partner

The “ideal” Travelstart affiliate partner is someone who works hard to learn and understand the travel industry and is in tune with digital marketing basics and best practices. They market through multiple channels, they consistently work together with the TS affiliate managers in driving increased or improved performance from their campaign and they dedicate time to being a successful affiliate.

Travelstart has always been a forward-thinking company. Does the business utilise any AI tools to streamline its marketing processes? (besides chatbots)

We use AI across different aspects within our user journeys from product, pricing through to operations. This offers users a tailored experience from the start of their search to the in flow, ancillary and product offering. This also gives us better understanding of trending user selections we’re able to pre-empt add-ons and products.

How has the pandemic changed the travel affiliate industry?

While the travel affiliate industry faced considerable challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, it also demonstrated resilience and adaptability. Affiliates were able to swiftly adjust their strategies to cater to the evolving needs of travellers, focusing on safety and promoting local and alternative experiences. Some affiliates successfully diversified their content, focusing on staycations and unique travel options.

The pandemic accelerated the industry’s digital transformation, pushing affiliates to enhance their online presence and leverage technology to provide even more valuable information to users. As the travel landscape continues to evolve, these adaptations position the industry well for recovery and growth, showcasing its ability to navigate challenges and emerge stronger.

The thing I love most about what I do is…

Being able to build those relationships with affiliates as well as the customers they bring in. I have a passion for people. Being able to help, educate and encourage all, from the smaller affiliates to the mass marketers that join, each one is different and requires a different approach to how and what they would need to succeed. There is no better feeling than seeing that new affiliate bring in bookings after you have spent time showing them the ropes.

Any advice for aspiring digital/affiliate marketers?

Build those relationships! Know the affiliates birthdays, if they have children, take an active interest in them and what they are trying to achieve.

Never stop learning! Join communities and ask questions. There are so many types of affiliates, however being a travel affiliate is personally one of my favourites. Everyone loves to travel, everyone dreams of travel, and you can help that dream become a reality by simply offering them the great deals that Travelstart has to offer.

When I’m not working, I’m…

Spending time with my family, making memories and building relationships all around me with everyone I meet.



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