Waikiki Site – Can it Make Money Online?

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by Ryan

This post is part of the Waikiki Site Series, in which I’ll show you how to build a successful travel niche website from concept to reality.

We’ve come quite far in planning the site, but before we start building we have to check if it’s worth it. I’m not doing this for free so we need to answer one question… Can it make money online? Considering the topic of Waikiki and tourism it would be a safe assumption that it could, but how? The details are what matters and we need actual affiliate income streams planned before this comes into fruition.

Below I’ve outlined a few of the monetization models for how the site will make money online. Keep in mind that this is an overview and I may add more in the future (actually it’s more than likely 😉 ).

Google Adsense

Very obvious one here, but they’ll be placed in the main heat spot (the top left corner of an article) and will provide a small amount of targeted income. Cost per click for Waikiki related keywords runs about $2 according to Google’s tools.

Real Estate Leads

There are a ton of condos and timeshares in Waikiki, and I want in on the action. I will highlight rentals and condos specifically in Waikiki, then establish a relationship with a Realtor in Waikiki who will help me build the content for this particular section. Leads would be captured via a contact form which will automatically be sent to the Realtor. The tricky part is receiving a part of the commission and building trust with the Realtor. It would be in the Reatlor’s best interest not to screw me out of income because it would decrease his/her future business. I will also have to gain my Hawaii real estate brokers license in order to receive commissions since Realtors are not allowed to give kickbacks.

Hotel Reservations

Most likely through an online booking site such as expedia or hotels.com. Expedia offers a 5% commission for hotels and 2% for airfare. Each hotel will have it’s own page with embedded links going straight to the expedia reservation page for that particular hotel.

Leads for Local Businesses

Scuba shops, para-sailing, charter fishing, etc… I will build content for each area of interest and offer free mentions for all businesses up front, but as traffic grows would prune it down to the one who is willing to pay me for the leads provided on the site. This could be done per lead or via a monthly advertising fee.

Hawaiian Themed Online Store

This could be a shopify store that could be run remotely yet linked on the same domain. Orders would be forwarded to local dealers much like drop shipping. Hawaiian art, wood carvings, and souvenirs would all be featured on the site.

Books and Travel Guides

There are a ton of books relating to Hawaii that could have affiliate links sprinkled throughout the site. There could also be a virtual bookstore on the site with books I recommend. Amazon.com offers affiliate income from sales directed from the site.

If I put my face out there I might also be invited to join people’s vacations in Waikiki… who knows? These are some of the main models I’ll focus on after building the content and marketing the site. It’s hard to predict earnings, but I’ll share them with you along the way.

What other monetization models could you think of for a travel niche website?

What other ways do you think the site could make money online?

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom | Build That List February 18, 2010 at 2:35 am

This is the first I have heard of this project and absolutely love it! I would focus on Adsense and travel affiliate programs to start with and go from there.
.-= Tom | Build That List´s last blog ..The Aweber Code….And Why You Need To Promote It! =-.

Tracy February 18, 2010 at 2:45 am

I like the way you are approaching this, Ryan. It seems very wise to me, and I hope I can learn from your example.
.-= Tracy´s last blog ..The Butterfly Effect, Bees and Money =-.

Moon Hussain February 18, 2010 at 4:31 am

Ryan,

Excellent idea! I have somewhat similar ideas but wondering if I should execute. I’ve taken a few road trips to Florida (from Delaware) and also have taken a couple from Delaware to California and back (whew, the stuff I learned and have seen).

I’m not sure if I should create a guide of some sort (need to do more research) or create a niche site like you have. Any advice?

How far along are you with this Waikiki site?
.-= Moon Hussain´s last blog ..Why Automating Your Proccess Is The Only Way To Stay Sane =-.

Financial Samurai February 18, 2010 at 5:26 am

Good outline Ryan! The real money earned is through the back business, so although Adsense is easy, I’d really focus on building relationships with local vendors.

If you can build 3-5 local relationships and help them succeed by driving customers their way, perhaps your name will spread and your site will flourish. Maybe they can help you with free advertising too regarding your site by displaying a sticker or picture, or print out too!

Sounds like a fun venture. Need angel investors? :)
.-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..Marketing Or Manipulation? =-.

Investing Newbie February 18, 2010 at 5:40 am

You’re defintely approaching this the right way and your plan of action seems on point. I know you just posted about passive income and all, but maybe after all of your research, you can be well-versed in Waiki to start organizing group tours that you can lead around the island. You could return to passivity by hiring tour guides or enjoy Waikiki with travelers! Just an idea…
.-= Investing Newbie´s last blog ..Word to the Wise =-.

Jeremy Johnson February 18, 2010 at 6:53 am

I think providing information for airline tickets would be helpful to people, as well as bed and breakfasts or cheaper/different alternatives to hotels if there are any.

Maybe some people rent out their home basement for 1/2 the cost of a hotel, but if there are any that would require some trust.

You may even be able to give people scuba diving lessons as well, which I think some people would really like.
.-= Jeremy Johnson´s last blog ..How To Be A Hot Nerd =-.

Little House February 18, 2010 at 8:30 am

Great outline, Ryan. I agree with Financial Samurai, most of your income will be through the affiliate links or charging local businesses for ad space on your site. Will you need business cards, postcards, flyers? Something to think about when you’re approaching local businesses. PS Print is a great online printer, so is Vista Print.

I can’t wait until the site launches!
.-= Little House´s last blog ..Making the Most of a 3-Day Weekend =-.

FinEngr February 18, 2010 at 9:10 am

Ryan,

I’ve got to focus back on my blog!!…but I can’t help but comment :)
Wanted to throw my two cents in…

Real Estate Leads
Comment: You may want to check out some of Jason Hartman’s “Creating Wealth” podcast series. Focuses a lot on your RE interests. Good idea about applying the work towards your license.
Suggestion: Can you expand beyond realtors? If these condo or timeshares are privately owned, have you thought about appealing to that group directly? Allowing individuals to post their rentals on your site for a smaller commission than the realtor would take to manage the marketing of the places.

Hotel Reservations
Suggestion: Have you considered appealing more to your niche/interests. Like FS and LH, if you form good relationships with specific businesses (ie scuba shops) you could negotiate rates and package excursions together for (hopefully) a better price than normal hotel rates. Along the same line, have you thought about applying for a job at a scuba shack? Then you could promote the shop on your site, they’d provide all the resources (gear, boat, etc), and you’d be double-dipping on fees if you became an instructor or lead dives yourself.
.-= FinEngr´s last blog ..Can Shrinking Yields Be a Good Sign? =-.

LeanLifeCoach February 18, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Ryan – It seems you are primarily thinking about the individual or family vacation segments. Don’t forget about group/business opportunities. Connect with the meeting venues and transportation companies.

Though it is outside of your passive mentality you could also offer to be an on-site coordinator for meetings and event planners from the mainland.
.-= LeanLifeCoach´s last blog ..What Is Your Learning Style? =-.

Monevator February 20, 2010 at 1:27 am

Just to say I’m really enjoying tagging along and seeing this one unfold, too. Have you ever seen the site Live Learn Invest? (http://www.livelearninvest.com/) He doesn’t update so much on his niche sites now, but I found the growth of those pretty compelling to watch. He also talks about rental properties and online businesses, with none of the hype you get on the big sites.

I thought I’d be able to easily think of an extra revenue stream but I’m struggling. What about those new Q&A plug-in widgets that I’m seeing about the place? Readers could ask a question about the destination, and get an answer – and sometimes you make money out of it, I presume when there’s a sale involved.
.-= Monevator´s last blog ..Playing chicken with house prices =-.

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