By Craig Satterfield, Elite Cruise Counselor Scholar
We are always trying to find a way to reinvent our business, to make it more successful and to give it a brand identity, which in today’s business environment is probably the most important thing.
Developing a niche in your travel company is a great way to stand out from the crowd. It is time to take advantage of the latest trends and do something that many others are not offering. It is even better if it is a subject that you are fanatic about, that way it isn’t like work but more like a hobby and a passion. Think hard about what you love and take it from there. Be it a specific destination (I love Hawaii and the Greek Islands), a theme like weddings or Disney, marketing to specific interests like baseball card collectors or those interested in historic things, finding your niche can make your job more fun and could turn it into a tremendous success.
On the subject of trending niche travel ideas you may want to consider well-being and wellness travel. After all there are only 76.4 million baby boomers in this country and most of them are either entering or in the midst of their 60s. Hotels and resorts started getting in on this new interest about 2 years ago when they added jogging trails, enhanced workout rooms, sleep programs and nutrition programs like gluten free and vegan menus.
Some have gone over the top with vitamin C infused showers, special wake up lighting in the rooms and aroma therapy. Why not take advantage of this by becoming the go to person in healthy travel.
A good place to start would be The Travel Institute’s Well Being Travel on line program that will start you on your way to this extremely timely travel niche. Check out their website at thetravelinstitue.com and go to the catalog that covers their niche market specialist program. Travel Institute says, “According to a recent study, health and wellness travel accounts for $106 billion in travel sales. The Well-Being Travel Specialist course will show you how to boost your profits by capitalizing on this emerging niche market.”
To get you started, here are some ideas to get your expertise across once you have learned the products and services now available from spas, resorts, cruise ships, spiritual centers and even hotel chains.
One of the best ways to get involved in health related travel is to get into it as well. You can start with using what you have learned in the seminar and shift to a healthier lifestyle at home. You can mention your new healthy habits in your conversations with clients about your new lifestyle and how it has improved your daily life. This will open up the conversation about your new niche. Most of you prefer to customize your all inclusive programs for your clients and you can do the same here. This is a perfect time to find out what your clients would be interested in from hiking trails to a customized workout and nutrition program.
Since your potential well-being traveler is concerned about his own personal needs then it is important that you think out of the box. Think in terms of destinations that may not have been traveled to death like Costa Rica or Cancun. Eastern Europe, Malaysia, The Hawaiian Islands and some of the other Caribbean Islands have excellent accommodations for wellness and health travelers.
It is more important than ever to learn as much as you can about the new brands out there and to keep up with new destinations and programs that are being offered. Many of the official travel bureaus of the destinations mentioned have information on their website about wellness travel.
In 2012, 1.6 million Americans traveled abroad for medical services, primarily surgery. Like my Grandma always said, “Arithmetic…..not an opinion!” Major surgery in Malaysia costs less than 10% of what is charged in hospitals in the United States. That is a big deal if you don’t have excellent health insurance. Now wait, before you say it, doctors in foreign countries are just as educated and up to date with the latest procedures and equipment as those in the US. Many went to school in the US, the UK and Australia and are accredited by international organizations.
This niche may take some time and energy to develop but the potential is endless.
It is critical that you position yourself and your company on line since the likelihood of people interested in your niche will be all over the country and maybe all over the World. Maybe a good exception is if you live in a wine producing area.
Here are some more ideas to give you a chance to think about what your niche could be:
Adventure and outdoor experiences-statistics show that over 98 million people have chosen some sort of adventure type travel for their time away from home. It could take the form of snorkeling or scuba diving in the blue hole of Belize or on the Mexican Riviera, rock climbing or sky diving in Hawaii and flying in a jet fighter at the speed of sound. It can also take the form of soft adventure with a G Adventures tour or a bicycling adventure in the South of France. If you set yourself to offer adventure travel and advertise it correctly then you will have a niche that you can be profitable with and having a ton of fun.
Women Only Travel-the statistics here tell us that mature women outnumber men by a ratio of 100 to 81 (55-64); 100 to 82 (65-74); 100 to 69 (75-84); and 100 to 49 (85+). Female travelers will be one of the driving forces behind senior traveling in the long term plus 85% of women influence travel whether they are traveling with a family member, alone or with other women. You have heard of girlfriend getaways to spas, cruises, luxury resorts, and shopping sprees. Why not cash in on this very hot niche and become a women’s travel expert.
Mancations—guys are traveling with their buds too generally hitting sporting events, golf courses and fishing trips. You can combine your expertise in adventure and outdoor experience and market it to the guys.
Grandparents’ family reunion travel-so many of the retired baby boomers are grandparents and love the idea of taking family members on a memorable vacation. I always see T-shirts worn by family members on cruise ships advertising their reunion cruise with the grandma and grandpa. If they take the family to a resort or cruise ship the grandparents can enjoy the family on their own terms and not end up as babysitters like they might be at home. Knowing the best ships and resorts and prequalifying the decision maker (which is the most important person in this transaction) will give you a kick start to this currently very popular type of travel. This is also a niche that offers a good opportunity for referral business.
Disabled travelers-there are more and more opportunities to those that have challenges to enjoy travel Worldwide and you could be just the person to help them. This again is a niche that needs to be well thought out and planned for so you know in your own mind some of the stumbling blocks these client might face. Working out all of the logistics is what will make you an extremely important person in the traveler’s life. The Society for Accessible Travel and Hospital (SATH) indicates that disabled travelers currently spend millions of dollars a year on travel. Those that need special services will be extremely happy to know that you are an expert in this field and can save them all kinds of heartache if the destination they want to go to is full of barriers and uneven streets. Remember that some countries are better equipped for wheel chairs and specialized medical equipment than others so it is imperative that you know your stuff in this niche.
Travelers with Pets-Over 30 million people traveled with pets last year. Some of the major hotel chains are embracing this latest trend by providing services for their human, canine and feline guests. You will find that your luxury guests are more likely to want to bring Fido along on their next vacation and you will be there to give them advice and make the reservations for them. Loews Hotels was the first national hotel brand to welcome pets with their “Loews Loves Pets” program. Loews even offers pets their own room service menu with recipes prepared from scratch. Many vacation resorts and hotels have added “pet-friendly” to their list of amenities because they realize animal lovers who travel with their pets usually have money to spend. Focusing on this particular trend has given them a distinctive edge over the competition that you can take advantage of.
So if you think you are in a rut in your business and want to branch out with something that will set you apart from the competition then maybe one of these niche ideas is for you. Good luck and good selling.