Did you notice that many of the most compelling stories and characters in the just-completed Sochi Winter Olympics were from lesser-known sports?
That is the power of niche. It is unique, attention-grabbing because it can’t be found everywhere, and it inspires deep loyalty from followers.
Our co-founder Becky McCray is always saying, “The narrower the niche, the wider the opportunity,” and that certainly applies in tourism and hospitality.
One size does NOT fit all.
In our destination marketing trends newsletter and blog post earlier this year, we stated that it’s time to really hone in on thinking “local,” and focus on your niche marketing. Visitors are looking and longing for local experiences that they can’t get at home.
It’s time to drill down through your assets, review what you have and craft content that tells visitors about all of the great things that your local residents enjoy that are specific to your community.
Show visitors and guests how to “live like a local!”
Promote the Local Experience
What do your locals like to do? Do they enjoy outdoor markets? Where do they find local entertainment? What foods and flavors are specific to your area? How about local artists; where can they be found? Truly, inquiring minds want to know.
If you’re a larger destination, let’s talk about neighborhoods.
Your visitors want to get into your neighborhoods and really experience them; make that easier by providing them with information about each one’s vibe or culture, describing what they will find in each one, and showing them clearly how to get there, especially using public transportation.
Individually promote each area and let their unique identities shine; you’ll find a great example of neighborhood marketing with Visit Philadelphia.
Or, from an entire country’s standpoint, take a look at Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
Ireland is currently developing this 1,500 mile drive on the west coast of the island into a tourism region unto itself. With its slogan Go west….and go wild, Ireland is setting up this drive for niche appeal to those who are rugged, love adventure, and are drawn to coastal regions. Particularly attractive is their very photo-rich Wild Atlantic Way Twitter account.
Let Local Voices Sing
Not everyone is a writer or blogger, but let those who are have a go at helping you tell your destination’s story. Maybe some don’t write very well, but instead they can create stunning photographs, or video, or have a knack for audio.
Invite locals and tourism partners to contribute to your blog. Their guest posts don’t have to be long – which may seem intimidating – because a great photo and a paragraph can be plenty. Here are some ideas for content that might match what your niche visitors are looking for….
* Ask your local Farmers Market to give you a list of their most popular items. Do a blog post about them for each season. Throw in a recipe for one dish featuring a seasonal item, and source it from a local place.
* Ask a local bike club how to find the best “secret” places for cycling (bonus points for post-ride places to eat and grab a beer!)
* Check with community colleges for low-cost art programs that allow visitors to participate.
* Where can local food and drink favorites be found? Microbreweries? Food trucks? Breakfast/brunch places? Coffee shops? Bakeries?
* Ask your business partners for their “local” tips – for example, what do your RV park owners like to recommend to their guests? Your museum directors? The antique shop owner? The garden shop owner? Dog-friendly places or birding spots that the pet shop owner likes?
* Is there an up-to-date live music calendar in your community? Point visitors to it.
Outsiders Bring Fresh Eyes
Bring in “bloggers-in-residence” and let them live like a local in your community. Make sure they know all the details about your local experiences; they will happily share and express to their readers what makes your community special.
One of the advantages of such coverage is that bloggers bring their audience with them, so you’re getting in front of people who are already a natural fit for what you can offer.
As an example, Visit San Jacinto Valley in Southern California has a section of their website devoted to Snowbirds (winter visitors to warm climates) which is a big niche visitor market for them. Thanks to a connection that our Leslie McLellan made at the TBEX travel blogging conference, Visit SJV recently had Snowbird travel blogger Deb Thompson stay in the Valley for 6 weeks and experience Valley life and activities. The DMO provided the blogger with an extensive list of Snowbird-related experiences to enjoy and now they have a variety of blog posts and articles to use to help market to that particular niche.
Get Out of Your Own Head
Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees.
Think like a local and less like a marketer. When you take yourself out of your “job” you’ll notice things that you haven’t “seen” in a long time.
The local experience is what your visitors want and now is the time to give it to them and capitalize on it.
Need some help with blogging?
It’s a powerful tool but can certainly be challenging. We offer one-on-one help, and Lesson Two of our online course covers blogging. Contact us and let’s see how we can assist your niche marketing efforts.
Want to learn how to connect your destination or hotel with Chinese travelers?
We are proud Media Partners for the COTTM (China Outbound Travel & Tourism Market) in Beijing, April 9-11, 2014.
Millions of Chinese visitors are already on their way; COTTM can help you bring them to your destination, attraction or hotel.
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