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 and the like that 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 of 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 left-hand column on their website, various things to do 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.
The Bicentennial Peace Garden Trail is a series of gardens in New York representing battles of the War of 1812. Our Facebook ads target individuals interested in gardening, gardens, garden design, history, local history, War of 1812 or historic sites. These individuals are more likely to travel the Trail because they are fascinated by gardens and/or history.
- Produce content. Consumers are looking for relevant content that interests them. Tell consumers about your assets by creating blog posts, round-ups or listicles that appeal to specific niche audiences.
Cross Border Showcase, a travel program that encourages Canadian visitors to explore deeper into New York State, writes blogs that align with the interests of different tourist groups. Topics include film festivals for film tourists, places to visit for lighthouse tourists (that’s a real thing), and amusement parks for adventure tourists.
- 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.