Finding your niche as a tour operator

Tours comes in all shapes and sizes. The activities planned and locations visited on a tour can range from a relaxed break down the beach, to a high-adrenaline mountain expedition in the Himalayas. Simply classifying as a 'tour operator' doesn't really narrow down what it is you do and who it is you are targeting.

This is why tour operators need to be precise when it comes to their offerings and ideally need to find a niche market to target. But how can this be done? Deciding on a specific customer base and specialist activity or activities is hard given the proliferation of activities and locations available; with greater travel opportunities and more flexibility, tour operators can specialise in any number of travel niches no matter where they are based. This leads to our first point:

1. Focus in on one market

While the temptation is there to offer a wide range of tour choices, by doing this tour operators run the risk of stretching themselves too thin and offering sub-par experiences when they could be focusing in on perfecting a single fantastic one.

Many tour operators think if they offer several different types of tours they'll cash in, but if anything it weakens a brand's identity. As a tour operator, you want to be seen as an expert in your field but this requires an unfaltering focus on a specific niche market and tailoring services and customer choices around the wants and desires of this select group of individuals.

2. Consider how holiday habits have changed

When choosing a specific audience and market to target, tour operators should think about how our holiday habits have changed over the years. According to research from Travelex, 85% of us are now seeking more adventurous holidays than relaxing, all-inclusive deals. Although there is obviously still a market for the latter, it seems that adventure tour operators could be looking at a particularly lucrative year ahead.

It was also found that travellers are happy to save up for a number of months if it means they experience a unique and exciting holiday compared to your average week in the sun. Experiential tours is one emerging trend that new tour businesses may wish to get involved in and it seems that cost isn't necessarily a set-back for the modern traveller.

3. Ensure marketing matches up

Marketing for a tour operating business needs to incorporate a curious mix between taking note of current travel trends and ensuring it is focused enough on the niche offerings of the company in question. Marketing output needs to send a clear message about what it is a company is all about, but hook customers with an understanding of current travel trends.

For example, Kuoni has recently published data showing that Japan, Myanmar, Kenya and Namibia are some of the hottest up-and-coming destinations for 2016. A tour operator therefore may wish to highlight any offerings they have in these areas; marketing will ultimately attract the most travellers by having a finger on the pulse of travel in 2016, as well as appearing as a specialist in a specific tour market.

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