(Case Study) Harvest Hosts Affiliate Program: Making Partners Feel At Home Through The Everflow Platform
When I travel, I never truly feel “at home” with my lodging choices.
At hotels, I see the same Ansel Adams paintings, tiny bottles of hair care products, and beige sofas. No personal touches to see here.
Airbnb, VRBO, and other stays just don’t feel like my own space either.
Harvest Hosts Enters The Chat
Harvest Hosts understands the impersonal nature of travel and created a new model for overnight lodging that is unique, relaxed, and comfortable.
With Harvest Hosts, however, you’re not sleeping in an RV park, campsite, or shopping center parking lot. You’re ditching these non-glamorous sites for wineries, breweries, farms, museums, and other spots that are likely already on your travel lists.
Once you join Harvest Hosts (which is amazingly only $99 per year), you get access to more than 2,500 curated destinations in the United States and Canada where you can park your RV and stay overnight with no added camping fees.
These spots are breathtaking (and fully grammable)…
Upon arrival, you can grab a meal, wine taste, stroll the grounds, or simply detach and enjoy the wonders of nature.
Honestly, I’m not rushing to book a hotel, Airbnb, or RV park after staying at a Harvest Hosts location like this:
When Harvest Hosts decided to dive into growing their business through an affiliate program, they took this same pragmatic approach. Whichever platform delivered value and helped affiliates feel comfortable enough to actively promote Harvest Hosts was a proper choice.
Harvest Hosts chose Everflow and saw their program take off:
In December 2021 platform data showed an 89% increase in high-quality affiliates driving memberships vs. in 2020. Harvest Hosts also saw their referral program grow 63% year over year.
Let’s jump into how this strong growth curve took place thanks to a program that truly cares about its affiliates.
Empowering Affiliates With Better Creative Materials
When Harvest Hosts was in the process of searching for an affiliate platform in March 2020, they had many options.
Some platforms were cheaper…
Some were brand new to the space…
In the end, a key reason why Harvest Hosts went with Everflow was flexibility. With Everflow, all partner activity can be managed in one location, and the platform is packed with tools to ensure stronger performance.
You’re able to customize platform features to fit the unique needs of your team, affiliates, partners, and customers.
With Harvest Hosts having such a unique business model, the ability to customize the platform to create a more personal affiliate program was huge.
One key need was the ability to provide affiliates with proper training on how to promote the business to their audiences. Being a somewhat new, not to mention disruptive business, explaining value propositions and selling effectively could have been difficult without strong marketing resources.
Once an affiliate logs into the Harvest Host Affiliate Program, they not only receive access to standard creative pieces, but also marketing materials in a variety of formats including:
Zip files with full creative packages
HTML email creatives
Bill Zhang, VP of Marketing at Harvest Hosts, believes that this surplus of creatives plays a huge role in helping Harvest Hosts affiliates understand and effectively promote the brand. “We've used the creative repository as a way of really training the affiliates and letting them be successful,” stated Zhang.By providing affiliates with essentially everything they’ll need for strong promotion, Harvest Host once again is helping to make a core segment feel “at home.”
This was just the first of many steps they took to help affiliates feel valued and comfortable with their program.
As Harvest Hosts developed their program, they wanted to add some flexibility and motivational tools to their payout models to ensure that affiliates were truly valued for their time and effort spent on promotion.
Once again, Everflow’s customization capabilities allowed Harvest Hosts to offer affiliates a better experience.
Increasing Motivation Through Payout Flexibility
Harvest Hosts is well aware of the many seasonal and life factors that impact travel-related revenue (e.g. the year 2020).
Therefore, the team avoided the typical (and often ineffective) strategies that most affiliate programs employ in regards to affiliate payouts, such as:
Creating offers with one payout for most affiliates
Circulating a few new coupon codes periodically
Reactively adjusting payouts when things aren’t going well
In lieu of the standard structure, Harvest Hosts integrated a flexible payout structure into their affiliate program. To help affiliates deal with slower times, and to capitalize on events throughout the travel season, they deploy multiple payout motivators via Everflow.
A few of the many ways that Harvest Hosts motivates their affiliates with payout flexibility include:
Temporary payout increases for all affiliates during specific time windows
Custom payout structures for targeted influencers
Coupon codes and temporary flash sales
On-site sale enhancers, like time-boxing banners and promotions:
All of the above items can be easily tracked via Everflow, allowing the Harvest Hosts team to easily analyze and make adjustments to keep affiliates happily promoting Harvest Hosts.
Zhang cites custom payout structures as a great tool in motivating targeted affiliates to increase activity.
“We can say, ‘the harder you push, the more money you make,’ and so that's really helped us get in front of a lot more eyeballs with our affiliate partners,” stated Zhang.
Just another case of Harvest Hosts working to ensure everyone is appreciated for their efforts and compensated accordingly through the highs and lows of the travel season.
Harvest Hosts doesn’t just treat their affiliates like welcome guests through quality creatives and payout motivators, but also ensures stronger connections through email segmentation using Everflow.
Enhanced Communication Via Email Segmentation
Communicating is key to keeping affiliates engaged. However, communication effectiveness can be easily derailed due to one glaring issue: lack of segmentation.
Trying to reach a group of select affiliates, for example, can’t be done.
Ultimately, you’re left with generic, ineffective messaging that doesn’t foster a sense of connection for affiliates.
Through Everflow’s direct message solution, the Harvest Hosts team is able to communicate timely and relevant messages via in-platform email to different affiliate lists.
With just a few clicks, affiliates can be added to a list according to prominence, niche, location, activity level, and into virtually any segment that works for sending a timely email.
Once added to a list, Harvest Hosts uses segmentation to communicate key messages regarding sales strategy and offer promotion.
For Harvest Hosts, this often looks like segmenting affiliate messaging based on offer type:
“We have three different offers, and not all of the affiliates will excel with each offer. Segmenting lists is huge for us in this case,” added Zhang.
Again, Harvest Hosts is valuing their affiliates’ time by ensuring only relevant and helpful communication hits their inboxes.
It’s just such an innovative business, more recognition and growth are inevitable – including the integration on a new platform called Boondockers Welcome into the Harvest Hosts platform.
This integration will allow RV travelers to stay overnight on private properties throughout the US and Canada.
Harvest Hosts has seen the role of partnerships increase to 10% of their business since starting with Everflow and plans to keep exploring ways to connect with their affiliates this year by diving deeper into Everflow’s analytics suite.
“We want to engage more partners and having a platform like Everflow that is able to track without any limits, and cover all partner activity with solid reports, will be really helpful to us,” added Zhang.
The Convoy Is Growing And Is Headed To Harvest Hosts
By treating their affiliates well, Harvest Hosts has seen a rapid rise in affiliate activity and has brought in strong talent to promote their campaigns, including leading travel review sites and prominent YouTube influencers.
“Our influencers really are the subject matter experts, in many of the industry's top niches. Be it travel destinations, gadgets, equipment, or RV units. They really know their stuff,” added Zhang.
Treating affiliates like friends, family, and co-workers with whom you’d want to have a glass of Pinot has definitely paid off for Harvest Hosts.
Through the flexibility of the Everflow platform, Harvest Hosts will continue to help their affiliates feel “at home,” making them feel comfortable and treating them with respect for their role in redefining RV travel. (I had to get one more “at home” in here.)