RubberBand - 12:56 pm on Jul 10, 2013 (gmt 0)
I am a longtime affiliate of Agoda whose scheme has worked quite well for my sites over the last 6 years or so.
Since the last quarter of 2012 I have noticed a drop in earnings of more than 60% despite an increased number of referrals sent to them. This drop also seemed to co-incide with difficulty in getting any replies from their affiliate team. Until late last year my occasional queries had always been answered very politely and where errors had been made on their part, honestly.
After a lot of time spent trying to find out the cause of the revenue drop it seems to be because of the following changes to cookie tracking :
1. looking at a copy of their faq from approx 4 months ago I saw that the 365-day referral cookie period had been cut to 60 days.
2. looking at the current faq there is now no mention of any referral cookie. When testing I see the affiliate code (CID) is replaced by -1 as soon as a customer visits the booking confirmation page on ALL visits except the initial one. That would seem to verify that there is no tracking any more.
I feel that this could explain why not only the numbers of bookings have dropped but also the value. I know from my own habits that I am far more likely to choose and pay for a hotel quickly if its low cost. If its for say 3 weeks summer vacation then I might look at dozens of hotels over several weeks before booking. I've asked around and that seems to be pretty common behaviour among my friends at least.
While I respect Agoda's right to change the terms in any way they see fit I do feel it shows a very poor attitude to make such dramatic changes without a clear declaration to existing affiliates. If they did this then people could either decide to stick with the program or go elsewhere when new terms come into effect. Without making it clear then they don't lose anyone until affiliates work out for themselves what's happened (there is also a disregard for affiliates time here). The financial benefit to their company is obvious but for an internet based company where I think a good reputation is everything it seems strange that they would do this deliberately.
In their own terms of agreement they pledge to give 15 days warnings of changes though I think they would have this covered as I now remember 2 newsletters in the last year (never seen any before) that note at the bottom that the terms of agreement have changed. This is nothing more than a call to read the fineprint and would not be in my opinion a genuine attempt to keep "partners" informed of a major change.
As Agoda no longer seem to wish to reply to emails I am hoping that a few other Agoda affilates might have more to add on this topic and, would be particularly pleased to hear from Agoda themselves. I would love to hear that the above is incorrect.
A couple of other concerns that might be of interest to other Agoda Affiliates are :
1. A while back they changed from "auto" tracking to insisting that the CID is embedded in all referral links. This was well publicised but what you might not be aware of is that a lot of their URLs have changed and that if you forward to an incorrect one the user will be automatically be referred to another page but you (I believe) lose your referral.
2. Mobile devices (including tablets) users are offered the Agoda app on first visit. If they take it you lose the referral.
Well, thats probably enough on the topic until I know if anyone else has noticed the same problems. If you have I would pleased to discuss this topic more.