Stay22 is a hotel affiliate solution that I’ve been using at Indie Traveller since March 2021. It’s still somewhat of a newer company, so even if you’re in the travel niche it’s possible you haven’t heard of them yet.
Lately, I’ve been seeing various discussions in travel blogger Facebook groups about Stay22, so I thought I would share my direct experiences with them.
I’ve been able to 3X my hotel affiliate revenue using Stay22 (based on my pre-pandemic level). However, not all of Stay22’s tools proved to be equally relevant to my blog, so I’ll mention which ones converted best for me.
Table of Contents
What is Stay22?
Stay22 started off as a solution for adding interactive maps showing hotel booking options.
That’s still what they emphasize most, but they’ve expanded into offering deep-linking tools, hotel list views, and several other hotel affiliate revenue generation tools.
Their tools support a range of hotel affiliate programs including Booking, Hotels.com, Expedia, TripAdvisor, and VRBO.
The two key things to know:
- You don’t need to be a direct affiliate. If you’re not in, say, the Booking affiliate program directly that’s fine. You can simply make Booking.com links through Stay22.
- You (probably) won’t lose on commission by using Stay22. Unless you have a special negotiated rate or are in a high tier with one of the third-party affiliates, it’s likely you’ll get at least the same commissions via Stay22 as going direct.
Stay22 has its own relationships with these third-parties (such as Expedia or Booking) and has negotiated its own rates, which is why they can typically pass on the same commissions to you. However, it’s worth taking your own look at the rates, as in certain circumstances you may be better off going direct, for example if you get a very high volume of hotel bookings. (In my case, with Booking I’m actually 0.5% better off with Stay22.)
The sites that are part of the Expedia group will also give you commission for products besides hotel bookings through Stay22, such as flights or car rentals.
I see two key reasons for working with Stay22:
- Having a ‘one stop shop’ for hotel affiliates. It’s easier to make deeplinks for Booking, Expedia, VRBO, etc. all from one location.
- Using Stay22’s tools to increase your conversions. They help you present hotels in different ways that may make it more enticing for your readers to click and book.
The latter has been the main reason for me to use Stay22. As I mentioned earlier, it’s helped me triple my hotel affiliate income, and I’ve heard of other cases where bloggers achieved an even bigger boost.
This is the widget that Stay22 originally launched with. The map can be great for some sites, especially (in my view) with content about very specific places.
To be honest, I’ve had limited success with it, as a lot of my travel guides share fairly high-level information about a country. And I believe the exact location of a hotel is not as important to many of my users as other aspects like price/room type/etc.
It seems this map view was originally targeted at companies that host events. For this, it makes a lot of sense as users probably want to know if a hotel option is close enough to the event space or conference center.
I’ve seen implementations on other travel sites that made me think the map aligned well with the user intent. For example, I saw that Rove.me uses Stay22 maps for some of its very specific travel recommendations, such as visiting events like this air balloon festival. (You can see the maps by scrolling down.) Users probably want to see accommodation directly around these specific pinpoints.
I can also see the maps working very well if you blog about specific neighbourhoods in cities, where the user may be motivated to find a hotel in that area.
As always, it’s worth testing it out, as every blog and audience is different.
Tip: you can clean up the look of these maps by disabling some of the buttons. Here’s the embed code I used to present a simpler map. I also added a custom font. Replace ‘xxx’ with your data.
<iframe id="stay22-widget" width="100%" height="480" src="xxxxx&lat=xxxxx&lng=xxxx&customfont=Open%20Sans&customfontlink=https%3A%2F%2Ffonts.googleapis.com%2Fcss2%3Ffamily%3DOpen%2BSans%3Awght%40600%26display%3Dswap&hidecurrency=true&hideheatmap=true&hideinfomenu=true&hidelanguage=true&hidemainmarkercover=true&hidepriceper=true&hidesearchbar=true&hideenlargemap=true&hidesettings=true&disabledirections=true&isnear=false&minguestrating=4" frameborder="0"></iframe>
Stay22 is currently beta-testing this new functionality. It only works with Booking.com at the moment but I’m sure other platforms will be added.
I’ve been testing out List view in the last couple of months and I’ve had some early success with it. I customize the results by limiting them to a certain price range (so that I’m not recommending 5-star hotels to my budget-conscious audience).
I would love to see more visual customization options so that I can make this look less like a widget. I’ve found that the less widget-y an affiliate link looks, the more likely it’ll lead to conversions.
Fortunately, the list view is already pretty clean to begin with, making it look more informational and less like an ad. When I can adjust the colors and other elements to blend into my blog theme, I’ll start using this a lot more.
Deep link tool
This is probably the simplest tool that Stay22 offers and yet it’s the one I love the most! It lets you easily create links to specific hotel properties on any of their partner sites.
Creating hotel deep links has always been such a pain that I’ve often avoided or forgotten to include them in my content.
It’s annoying to have to log into multiple different partner sites to make them. I also used to be part of a special invite-only Booking.com program on CJ.com and I almost never used it because the process of creating deep links on this platform made me pull my hair out.
Having Stay22’s deeplink tool has made it so much easier for me to just put hotel links into my content quickly. Just by removing some friction, it’s led me to deep-link to hotel pages a lot more.
The pop feature
Stay22 is not sharing that many details about how this new feature works yet, but I’m in the beta program and it’s resulted in a dramatic increase in my conversions.
For specific users who have already shown an interest in booking hotels, it will pop up a booking page while they are browsing my blog. This is a rare event to occur as it’s highly targeted to specific users, but as it turns out, it’s extremely successful at generating conversions.
Best of all, this is a feature that works automatically so you don’t have to insert anything manually into any posts for it to work. It’s the pop feature that has had a very big impact on my earnings, alongside my manual deeplinks and list views.
Working with Stay22
In my experience, the team at Stay22 is extremely friendly and eager to work with new partners. I like working with them a lot.
On blogger forums and groups, I’ve seen a few people express suspicion at the way they’ve been approached by the Stay22 team. This surprised me at first but I think it’s just due to the fact that many independent bloggers have little experience with receiving sales calls.
I believe Stay22 started out being very B2B focused, focusing on event companies and not independent/self-employed bloggers. It’s quite a different style of communication in B2B that may come across as a little strong. Since I’d done B2B calls and meetings when I worked for a larger organization nothing seemed out of the ordinary to me. And I regularly see praise from those who are in their program about their communication.
So don’t worry, they’re just a friendly mid-sized company eager to work with more partners. Also: they’re Canadian. They can’t help being very friendly.
I’ve found Stay22 to be very communicative and great to work with. Incredibly, I have an account manager who I can reach with questions and who gives me updates. This is in huge contrast with some direct affiliate relations I have where they don’t even reply to my support tickets. I think Stay22’s support is right up there with the likes of Mediavine.
That said, they are still developing their suite of solutions, and their platform could still be further improved. It’d be amazing to have Agoda and Hostelworld added as then I’d be able to have all my accommodation programs under one roof. Features like the list view are also still in beta and I’m eager to be able to customize it more so that it fully blends into my blog theme.
However, it’s overall been proven to be a great new revenue stream for Indie Traveller and I recommend giving them a try for your blog.