Sun Shines for Speedos

I shall be missing the Summer A4UAwards as I’m going to squeeze in a bit of sunshine drinking elsewhere. There’ll be no black ties in sight. Only hot pants and speedos.

Handily I’ve been using a Sunshine.co.uk incentive competition entry to check out the latest deals for Magalluf. The Palma Nova Majorca site has been set up by an affiliate for a chance to win a dream prize to Barbados. Good luck to them.

New travel merchant Sunshine.co.uk announced on 11th April they are offering tickets to the Affiliate Future Barbados 2008 event.

On 22nd June, a group of affiliates and merchants are jetting off to Barbados for 7 days of bathing in the sun and spending the evenings drinking rum.

Chris Clarkson has been blogging and has had 3 tickets to give away. He has set a series of missions, which at the end of them should still prove useful for those who entered but didn’t win as they should have a stand-alone travel site that they could be proud of.

One ticket will be offered as a prize draw for every affiliate that gets 100 sales over the course of the incentive. I’d assume this would go to an already established travel site.

The other 2 tickets have been up for any type of affiliate to get involved in and a summary of the missions were:

  • Mission #1 Register a domain name for a Sunshine.co.uk resort, region or country
  • Mission #2 Sunshine.co.uk are sending an affiliate and their partner on a 7-day holiday this week. The affiliate who entered Mission #1 has to report back daily pictured with a gentleman sporting a pair of speedos!

  • Mission #3 The affiliates with the domain names had to get a home page up within 72 hours. The page had to be optimised and look presentable.
  • Mission #4 With 4 tickets remaining, affiliates or even their colleagues, friends and family are encouraged to blog about the competition. But don’t tell too many people eh? I really wouldn’t mind winning a Sunshine.co.uk holiday this year!

Sunshine.co.uk have their own affiliate section on their site that includes dynamic banners, search boxes, HTML newsletters and RSS feeds.

San Fran Was Summit Else

12 floors below me in my 4-star San Francisco hotel there were 400 people networking at the LinkShare Summit and it was only 7am.

LinkShare had kindly paid $2000 for my flights and enough for a 4-nights stay in the Japanese style Nikko Hotel. So it was wise for me to get up early and attend.

It was Thursday and I’d arrived on the Tuesday afternoon after a 15 hour journey with KLM via Amsterdam.

On my first night in the United States, I made the mistake of venturing out alone in the dark, not knowing where I was going. Instead of walking into the bussle of Union Square I went in the opposite direction and was approached by people at every corner. I quickly retreated back into the hotel, switched on the 42 inch plasma tv and caught up on my sleep.

On Wednesday there were several people attending a LinkShare training day for advertisers and publishers and so I used this day to do some sightseeing.

It was a bright day and I got the cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf up to Alcatraz, where I took pictures and ate plenty of sea food. On the return journey I took a detour via China Town and again, just for fun, got lost in the dark.

I returned to the hotel to find a goodie bag from the likes of Boden and Mr and Mrs Smith in my room, which included soap and jewellery.

LinkShare Summit Gifts

In the evening I met up with Andy Greaves, the UK face of LinkShare, who I’d previously had a chat with at the a4uexpo in October.

At the hotel bar I discussed that it was timely that I was in the US at this time as I’d just acquired the domain ShopCodes.com that week. More on that development another day.

So, on the Thursday, the main day of the Summit, I went downstairs and ate breakfast standing as I mingled amongst the crowd.

It was pretty much a fifty-fifty split between affiliates and advertisers, so it was a good mix. I particularly looked out for affiliates that had ‘bargain’ or ‘coupon’ on their name badge. Interestingly, I found that several of these affiliate sites are rather large and have up to 25 staff each.

I also approached merchants that offer coupons and managed to persuade a few to offer an Exclusive code, once my new site is live.

LinkShare attendees

The keynote speaker was Ian Ayre and his speech on the value of number crunching got me immediately thinking in how I could A/B split test my site using free Google software and compare the click through rates. I implemented that thought the same afternoon and I’ll share the results in the future.

David Schatsky also had a TrendWatch presentation and basically, we’re all going to do fine us affiliates as more people are getting online and retail shopping.

The closing party that evening was held at the impressive Slide club, with a slide for an entrance. I seriously took advantage of the free bar and danced the night away with the best of them. Belatedly I realised that the LinkShare party had long gone and the only people left dancing wore masks.

Slide, San Francisco

On my last full day I took advantage of the good exchange rate and went shopping with a seriously bad hangover before going for a quick drink in a nearby Irish bar with Andy and Account Manager Tiina.

The next event is the LinkShare Symposium 2008 in New York, 23rd-24th June. If you fancy a shopping trip it maybe a worthwhile event to attend.

I’d love LinkShare to somehow get me over there again. Hopefully I’ll have a ShopCodes.com site full of exclusive codes from their US merchants by then.

Collecting Incentives Is A Dangerous Game

There’s a flip side to winning prizes every other day you know? Really, there is! It begins when you get home to find a little card on the floor saying “You Were Out. Packet is Too Big for your Letterbox.”

As I work during the day I’m always out during the week when the postman arrives so anything that doesn’t fit or needs signing for gets taken away again.

That’s such a tease.

Only last week when in San Francisco on a trip I won from LinkShare. (No letter box is big enough for that prize.) I received a call saying I had a parcel waiting for delivery. It was with DHL and as it’s walkable distance from my home I went to collect the large box with my passport on my return.

I wasn’t expecting anything, so was curious. My personalised “The Apprentice” calendar from Getting Personal had already arrived. (Notes to merchants: That was sent to my works address) as had my free pants from Dead Good Undies.

So when I saw that the large box was from Sweden I was confused. It had “spare parts” on the label and that was making me even more curious. So I ripped the box open before I even got home.

Inside was a pack of cards and an 8GB Schwartz iPod Nano from PokerRoom. Now everything fell into place. They sent me an email during December saying that if I revisited them and played poker again with them via mobile, I’d be entered into a draw for every mobile real-money hand I’d played.

I’ve been lucky with these prize draws of late!

Now another card has arrived from Royal Mail and I don’t know what the contents are. I’m speculating that it can only be one of two gifts.

Either chocolate from hotel chocolat who just recently paid me 100 cash bonus for good Christmas sales. No, it won’t be them, as I was promoting an offer I shouldn’t have.

Or it could be another personalised calendar from Getting Personal, this time for Valentine’s. Well, someone has to love me.

I can’t wait any longer, so I’m going to walk from my office to the Royal Mail Delivery Office in Leeds to find out.

And this is why winning incentives gets dangerous.

Google maps tells me I have to walk across two roads, a railway track, a canal and the River Aire before another main road, the Inner Ring Road, some private property and back across the River Aire.

Collecting merchant and network incentives is a dangerous game but someone’s got to do it.

San Francisco LinkShare Summit Winner

Am I glad I transferred many of my merchants links from TradeDoubler to LinkShare UK during the Autumn? Too right! It’s just won me a $3000 trip to the US.

All LinkShare UK affiliates were entered into a prize draw if they made just 1 sale during a 3-day period.

Well I made exactly 100 orders on that network during the month of December.

On Friday whilst browsing my email in the pub on my phone, I spotted one from Andy Greaves, which caught my attention “San Francisco Trip – Are you free?”

Too right I’m free mate. I’ve never been to America and this is an opportunity too good to miss.

Hotel Nikko

“Sorry about the rather last minute of this, remember the advent calendar promotion … Well my US colleague randomly picked you.”

I’ve been really lucky the last couple of months with winning prizes (and money out of crackers.) Ever since winning a pass for a4uexpo in October I’ve not looked back. On Christmas Day I won a 4GB iPod Nano in the Affiliate Window draw; I’ve had 4 numbers on the lottery; won a pair of shoes and much much more that was documented last month.

The trip to San Francisco is to attend LinkShare Summit 2008. It will be an opportunity for me to see what coupon affiliates on the other side of the pond are up to and a chance for me to see how the LinkShare foray into m-commerce is getting on. An area that I want to dip my toe into later in the year.

The prize includes:

The conference is for 2 days, allowing me time to do a bit of tourism or shopping or have a shiutsu massage back at the hotel.

The New Year has already got off to a flying start and this trip may just set the agenda for the rest of the year.

First things first. There’s a North East Affiliate Meet on the 26th January in Durham.

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