What Is The Value Of A Niche? Establishing a niche for your travel agency is about being able to provide value to your clients in the form of knowledge & expertise, exclusive products, and improved service. It isn’t necessary for a travel agent to focus on just one type of travel, but there are benefits to finding niches and mastering those areas of focus. While booking every type of vacation or trip might give you access to more customers, those customers are more difficult to acquire as you’re competing against agencies with competitive advantages due to their specialization in that particular type of travel. How are you going to know more about boutique resorts in Costa Rica than someone who spends all day, every day booking boutique resorts in Costa Rica?
Knowledge & Expertise: By narrowing your focus, you can become an expert and learn everything there is to know about a particular destination or a type of travel; and once you’ve learned all of the ins and outs, you can share your valuable insights with your clients or use these insights to solve problems.
Improved Products: Specialization also enables you to build strong relationships with wholesalers and hotel representatives. This can give you access to special promotions, and it helps you present your customers with unique products and opportunities.
Relationships & Service: If you specialize in destination weddings, and every week you’re working with the same wedding planners and representatives at the same resorts, it’s going to be much easier for you to get assistance or solve a problem. By having these strong relationships with partners in the industry, you’ll be able to provide your clients with even better customer service.
Consider Your Network and Look To Your Friends and Family For Insights:
Tim Evans, President of Modern Destination Weddings, was first introduced to the destination wedding industry when a long-time friend reached out to him for assistance with planning and booking his destination wedding in the Caribbean (2009). At the time, Tim was very comfortable booking all-inclusive, group vacations to the Caribbean, but he hadn’t booked a destination wedding before.
Be Open To Opportunities: Tim had been looking for opportunities to make an impact. He knew he needed to try and be really good at one thing, so when this opportunity presented itself, he immediately began researching the destination wedding process and the industry. He looked at websites of companies specializing in destination weddings, he read their reviews, and he worked to understand their business models. He saw that there was a lot of need in the destination wedding space and that there was a low barrier to entry. He saw the opportunity to scale the business through destination wedding group travel, and Modern Destination Weddings was officially born in 2012.
Gain Customers While You Test Your Markets:
Back when Modern Travelworks was initially started in 2006 as Travel with Tim, we booked everything under the sun: all-inclusive vacations to Mexico and the Caribbean, custom European itineraries, ski trips to Colorado, weekend getaways to Las Vegas, condos in Florida, honeymoons in Hawaii, escorted tours, safaris, cruises, and underwater basket weaving expeditions to the Galapagos. Maybe not that last one, but we were doing everything in our power to assist every customer who needed help in the hopes of growing our customer base.
I remember working for weeks with a group of customers on their Las Vegas trip where the total commission across three reservations was $37. We understood that this was part of the scaling process and that when you’re growing a business early on, you won’t always have the luxury of being picky. But it was during this process of trying everything that we truly fleshed out what would be viable, long-term markets for us as a business and which ones simply wouldn’t be sustainable.
While you’re testing new markets and trying out new travel niches, even if you eventually decide not to continue booking that type of travel, you are still building trust with your growing customer base. You’re going to have those bookings where you only make $37, but some of those customers who booked weekend trips to Las Vegas will return to book 20 person, all-inclusive family vacations to Mexico.
If there is a single lesson to be learned by Jeff Bezos’s strategy with Amazon, it’s that you shouldn’t be afraid to take short term losses in the pursuit of long-term gains. Work as hard as you can for your customers while you test out the different niche travel markets, and as you learn more about which direction you want to take your business, you’ll have an ever-growing list of customers and clients whose trust you’ve earned.
Get Started As Soon As Possible:
Experience is the best teacher, and a month of doing will teach you more than a year of researching and planning. This doesn’t mean that research and planning aren’t important. It just means that you shouldn’t get caught up in overthinking, because theory often doesn’t match reality.
Passion Isn’t Everything: You might think that you’ll love specializing in destination weddings, because you’re passionate about travel and you love weddings. You picture yourself helping a wedding couple celebrate their love on a beautiful, tropical beach with all of their closest friends and families, and the thought fills you with warmth and purpose.
But then you experience the entire process a few times, and as rewarding as it is, you realize that it’s incredibly stressful to work with clients for 18-24 months at a time. You find yourself overwhelmed when your inbox is full of emotionally charged emails from brides and grooms, who are themselves struggling with incredible amounts of stress, much of which is completely out of your control.
A destination wedding is not just a weekend trip to Vegas. When you’re responsible for a once-in-a-lifetime event that they’ve been dreaming about and envisioning their entire lives, the stakes are incredibly high, but this means the rewards are too. When all of your hard work comes to fruition, and you see the wedding pictures and the types of memories the wedding couple has created with their closest friends and families, it’s an exceptional feeling. Ultimately, the only way you can know whether a travel niche is good for you is to test it out.
Questions To Ask Yourself When Considering A Travel Niche:
- Is there opportunity here?
- To make an impact
- To gain customers
- To increase revenue
- Will my current customers want this product?
- Discuss with friends, family, social groups and networks
- Reach out to individual clients via email, phone, or newsletter
- Can I obtain new customers who will want this product?
- Ask friends, family, social groups and networks if they know anyone who might be interested
- Advertise with google pay per click, Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, etc.
- What is the barrier to entry?
- How long will it take, and how much will it cost to start offering this product?
- Do I have a system that allows me to book and service this travel niche?
- Do I have access to wholesalers who sell this product?
- What are my commission levels with these wholesalers?
- Is it enough to make it worthwhile?
- What are my options to increase the commission level?
- Do I have the team needed to book and service this product?
- Are my agents educated on this product? If not, how do I educate them?
- Does this product require a back office system to stay organized, and if so, do I have access to one that will work?
- Can I compete in this niche?
- Who is my competition?
- Who are the big movers?
- What are their competitive advantages?
- What unique selling point or value can I bring to my clients?
After You’ve Started Testing: We recommend mapping out your entire process of working with your clients. Start from the beginning where your client first hears about you or contacts you, and carry it all the way through the entire process until after your clients have traveled. This will force you to think about all of the steps in your process so you can think about the following questions.
- What changes can I make to improve my process?
- Where am I running into problems?
- Are there any obvious inefficiencies?
- Where are my customers least satisfied in the process?
- Where are they most satisfied?
- What am I doing particularly well?
- How can I apply that to areas where I’m doing poorly?
- If I could start my process over from scratch, how would it be different?
- Is this process sustainable?
- Do I enjoy it enough to continue doing it?
- Do my agents enjoy it enough to continue?
- Is it profitable long-term?
- Questions to consider when thinking about travel niches:
- Who is traveling?
- Where are they traveling, and where will they be staying?
- Why are they traveling?
- What will they be doing while traveling?
For The Road: Trying to figure out your travel niche can feel overwhelming. It can lead to a type of analysis paralysis where you’re stuck in a process of overthinking and overplanning, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The process of establishing a travel niche is a process of discovery. It should be fun and exciting, because it’s just about you honing in on where you can have the greatest impact and be the most fulfilled. It’s not about having all of the answers. It’s about asking the right questions, because once you start asking the right questions, the answers will come.
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