Case Study: The Power of Collaboration and Partnership – JEBCommerce

Travel Case Study: The Power of Collaboration and Partnership

Case Study
in Brief

After the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the travel industry, Princess Cruises partnered with JEBCommerce and Rakuten Advertising to revitalize its affiliate program. Through strategic optimizations, new messaging around safety protocols, and continuous collaboration, the partnership achieved significant growth. This effort was recognized with the 2024 GoldenLink Award for “Best Agency Partnership”.

Overview

Over the past 15 years, travel companies continued to find new ways in connecting with consumers to be a thriving industry that didn’t seem like it was going to slow down. Then 2020 came along with that 5-letter word we all know now as COVID. We all know what happened next, the pandemic shut down the very notion of catching the next flight to a great destination or hoping on a fully booked cruise ship with strangers. 

Princess Cruise Lines was no stranger to the shutdowns and spent several months with ships at port and no clear picture as to when sailing would begin again. In early 2022 they made the move to partner with JEBCommerce to start rebuilding and ramping up their affiliate program within the limited budget and team they had coming out of the lockdowns. 

Challenges

  • Overcoming the impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry
  • Rebuilding the affiliate program with a limited budget and team
  • Developing new messaging around safety protocols to attract passengers

Solutions

The core solution to reigniting the Princess Cruise’s affiliate channel was creating new, revenue-producing affiliate relationships within a heavily hit vertical while creating new messaging around the industry leading safety protocols that PCL had developed to keep their passengers safe and healthy. This core strategy coupled with agency experience in revamping affiliate programs and implementing industry best practices and internally built processes proved to be an award-winning effort. Needless to say, the extraordinary success achieved would not have even come close to possible without the continuous and brilliant human collaboration across our company’s teams. 

Key elements included:

  • Creating new, revenue-producing affiliate relationships
  • Developing messaging around safety protocols
  • Implementing industry best practices and internally built processes by JEBCommerce
  • Testing innovative affiliate segments, new strategies, and aggressive activation

Collaboration and Execution

JEBCommerce brought their award-winning affiliate management expertise, comprehensive strategy, and creative partner development. Rakuten Advertising brought its industry leading technologies, institutional knowledge of the Princess Cruises affiliate program and hands-on support team. And, Princess Cruises, most importantly, brought an open mind and understanding patience allowing us to test innovative affiliate segments and strategies untapped by their previous agencies. Our 3-way team communication was a difference-making ingredient fueling momentum and creativity throughout the past 2 years to have affiliate marketing become a renewed undercurrent of profitable growth in overcoming the sector’s real-world problems.

Rakuten Advertising’s agency support and merchant support teams collaborated regularly with JEBCommerce through email and video communication to share historical program performance data and KPI learnings from affiliate interest and share opportunities through their proprietary Benchmarking reports. No stone to be left unturned, they continued to facilitate strategy, introductions, and in-person meetings during industry events with JEBCommerce. 

As we all know, successful and lasting affiliate programs are rooted in continuous collaboration between networks, merchants, publishers, and agency partners.

Results

JEBCommerce’s management and strategic action has resulted in results that outline this partnership. 2022 saw explosive growth coming out of a stagnant year in 2021 which reset the program baseline and created a goal to continue progress in 2023 and moving into 2024 which resulted in the following average YoY performance:

  • 60% year-over-year increase in revenue-producing affiliate relationships
  • 3 new productive affiliate segment categories
  • 80% increase in new bookings
  • 107% increase in quality site traffic
  • 68% increased channel ROI

Even more significant, in 2022 the program had a 86% reliance on revenue from their top 3 affiliates. JEBCommerce dropped that to 72% reliance from those same top 3 partners in 2023 and further dropped that reliance to 64% YTD in 2024 through continued diversification within the channel.

This success has brought renewed attention to Princess Cruises’s affiliate marketing program with increased channel investments and has extended their partnership with JEBCommerce to manage and continue growing their affiliate program through Rakuten Advertising’s network.

Conclusion

The rewarding work and continued focus on success led to everyone involved being together during Rakuten Advertising’s annual event, Optimism, where this incredible collaboration secured the winning entry for the 2024 GoldenLink Award for “Best Agency Partnership”.