What is Niche Tourism?
Niche market tourism uses programs to attract visitors focusing on a very specific market segment built around a well-defined product.
We’ve said it before, tourists are looking for experiences. So it only makes sense that visitors are throwing out generic “everything but the kitchen sink” trips, and planning vacations that align directly with their interests. Tourists are now travelling to destinations (or a string of destinations) with opportunities that match their passions. Thus, niche market tourism is a great way to grow visitation to your destination.
But let’s make one thing clear – “niche” does not have to mean small. There are plenty of niche markets that have a large following and pull in plenty of tourists.
Examples of some popular niche tourism markets include:
- Agri-tourism: agriculturally-based activities that bring visitors to a farm.
- Eco-tourism: the unique ecology of an area – its flora and fauna – that bring in tourists.
- Wine tourism: wine-growing regions, vineyards, wineries, wine festivals attract visitors who are interested in consuming or purchasing wine. (I see you, Finger Lakes region.)
How to Create a Niche Tourism Product
Identify products with a common thread.
Look for the one-of-a-kind assets in your region. Attractions can take advantage of a niche market that’s just become popular.
When the Lincoln movie came out in 2012, Cayuga County’s Seward House added special tours around the relationship between Secretary of State Seward and Lincoln. Where else can you see pressed flowers from Lincoln’s funeral casket?
Develop a trail.
If you have the capacity to create and manage a trail, string together multiple stops with a specific theme in an easy-to-travel way. Trails are very popular because they do all the work for tourists. Visitors pick a place to start and just enjoy the journey.
The Haunted History Trail of New York State is a statewide paranormal product that appeals to both serious ghost hunters and the paranormal curious. It has over 65 creepy, spooky and downright scary stops, including haunted inns, museums, amusement parks, and restaurants.
Create a website, landing page or brochure.
Bundle information so consumers can easily find it. Group assets and experiences that appeal to niche markets and display them on your destination’s website or in a printed guide.
Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes do a great job with this. In the things to do section on their website, various activities are categorized based on special interests and audiences. Examples include Art Aficionados, History Buffs, Outdoor Enthusiasts and Agri-Tourism. Their Chocolate Trail also thinks outside the box, taking visitors beyond standard places where you can eat chocolate. The trail includes funky stops like a spa with chocolate creme waxing and a cigar shop with chocolate pipe tobacco!
If you have enough content, create a website dedicated to one niche market (as the Pot Guide does for marijuana users).
Marketing a Niche Tourism Product
Target niche tourists.
This may be a no-brainer, but target the people who have a special interest in your product or asset. When you’re creating an audience for Facebook ads, choose target interests that align with the niche market.
Old Sturbridge Village is the largest outdoor history museum in the Northeast, with historical interpreters who recreate a rural New England town of the 1830s. Our Facebook ads target different groups interested in different aspects of the museum. History buffs are attracted to the American history aspect, while others love to be on guided cultural tours and hands-on explorers want to experience history through crafts and makers. The museum has all of these, and targets each group specifically with the pieces that are most interesting to them.
Consumers are looking for relevant content that interests them. Talk about the niche product(s) across all the destination marketing channels in your toolbox. Tell consumers about your assets by creating blog posts, round-ups or listicles that appeal to specific niche audiences.
Cayuga County Tourism in NYS recently kicked off an initiative to reposition their destination around its connection to Harriet Tubman and inspire visitors to come to a place where equal rights history took root in the U.S. Their blog has already started highlighting attractions related to Harriet Tubman, and equal rights history and present are woven into their social media channels as well.
Talk the talk.
This is the one time I will let jargon slide. Now don’t overdo it on the technical speak, but if you’re talking to people who are really passionate about something, use vocab they’ll relate to.