By Steve Crowhurst, CTC
With so many travel trade articles pitching niche markets, I thought you should know five steps that will help you better understand niche viability before you invest time and money in what could be a short drive up a dead-end street. Although someone in the know is telling you that this or that is the fastest growing travel niche of all time…you must always do your due diligence.
- Is there a dedicated magazine or blog? Here’s the thing. If there is money to be made in it, there is a magazine for it. When you next read that a certain travel activity is the next big thing, look for the magazine. Go online first and then visit an actual magazine rack. You’ll want that glossy in your hands. In the first six months of 2015, there were 50 new magazines launched. Cats, dogs, organic gardening. No snickering… each of those three offer excellent niche travel opportunities. It’s important to read the magazine as your prospects would. There are about 7,400 magazines in the USA today.
- How many subscribers? Every magazine publishes a media kit and in that media kit is the data you need and want. Order a kit and look over the readership and subscriber information. How many? Six hundred does not a niche make. Six million does. A niche market is all about numbers. Niche does not mean low head count. It means people who are dedicated, passionate. Once you know how many subscribers there are, you need more facts and stats. You need data.
- How does the magazine message its readership? Just like the media kit, every magazine surveys its readership and for obvious reasons – they are selling ad space to travel suppliers, tour companies and others who create something their readership will buy. Look for the survey that tells you all about the readership’s travel profile, needs, wants and travel spend. Let’s assume that since winter has arrived or will soon, that you wish to explore skiing as a niche. What does the survey say about favorite ski destinations at home and abroad? How does the magazine promote to its readership? What type of language and slogans and imagery do they use? How do they use social media?
- Reading between the lines. Okay. You’ve now got data. You know there is a keen following. You have your prospective customer profile. You know what words and slogans and images to use. You know their travel needs and wants and spend. Now you decide whether or not you are targeting this niche focused audience locally, nationally or internationally if you are going to launch an inbound version of this niche.
- Look for a preferred supplier. Before going it alone, check that magazine to see if your preferred ski suppliers are advertising there. Make the call. Discuss your niche marketing ideas with your supplier BDM, borrow from their experience and data and marketing funds and check into co-branding or white label opportunities. Now you have the support of a supplier in your marketing plan.
Before you invest hard earned commission in what someone might consider the next big thing in travel, follow steps 1 through 4 and then check all your information with your supplier. That way you will be more knowledgeable in the ensuing meeting.
In closing, it’s important you understand the difference between niche and mainstream. Cruising for instance is not a niche. It used to be back in the 30’s! It’s now mainstream and a segment or category of an agency’s business mix. Cruising in a small luxury vessel down or up the Amazon is a niche. Finally there is niche-within-niche, a term I coined some years ago. Applied to cruising the Amazon on a small luxury vessel, niche-within-niche means you would target market only university professors. Or photographers only. Or LGBT clients. Or… get this: LGBT university professors who are photographers! That’s a niche-within-niche to the 3rd degree!
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