As we get near the end of our 2019 resolutions (only one more after this), we finally get to my favorite resolution. Finding your niche! When I entered this industry in 1997, I immediately realized that very few people can be all things to all people and to succeed, one would need to specialize. This was highlighted in my own office where I had corporate agents that had no idea how to book a leisure trip. And leisure agents who had no idea what a back-to-back or hidden city ticket was.
Admittedly at the beginning, we were an agency that provided all things to all people but over the ensuing 10 years and in the years beyond, we narrowed our focus more and more until we became the niche agency that we wanted. So, how do you do it?
Now I am not suggesting that you become solely a niche agency. If you can, that is great. But if not, there is nothing wrong with being a generalist with a specialty in a specific destination or travel type.
DON’T FAKE IT
If you are going to be a niche agency, you need to know your stuff. Do not pretend because your soon-to-be-former clients will see right through you. Authenticity is key here. You cannot claim to be a LGBTQ+ agency if you are not in the community. You cannot claim to be a group specialist without the proper training and experience. You may be able to fool some people initially, but in the end, it will come to bite you in the butt. And be careful on the name of your agencies. I know many Cruise Holidays owners that struggle to sell anything but cruises. Be authentic!
FOLLOW YOUR PASSION
Take stock of what you love. I was a divorced dad of three kids and I loved them and travel—Single Parent Travel was born. Are you into horticulture? There are plenty of worldwide floral destinations. Opera? Art? Coffee? Conservation? Volunteering? Adoption? American History? Harry Potter? Supercars? The list is endless.
When you are passionate about something, it shows. You cannot hide it and your enthusiasm will ooze over to your client. I know a colleague that loves rare collectible cars. It is not my thing, so I tune it out; but he had no problem filling a group tour led by him to the recent Palm Beach Cavallino Classic for Ferrari lovers. Paull Tickner, who writes for TRO is constantly selling floral tours of the UK.
And one you have it, own it. Keep following your passion and learn more about it. Constantly be learning and growing and you will be surprised at how fast you become “the expert” on whatever your passion may be. And from there, it tends to evolve into a snowball effect. There are very few people specializing in single parent travel right now—in fact none that I know of. Who is called (and mentioned) when a reporter or television program needs some commentary? Make sure your clients are happy (it should be a lot easier because of your passion) and they will become your biggest and most vocal cheerleaders. For example, on one of my group trips, a young girl had the time of her life and her mom was very thankful. As a divorced woman, she had friends that were divorced as well. The next time we offered that trip, guess who brought along three friends?
Success in niche travel is defined by three words—authenticity, passion, and performance!
Do you have any experience in a niche? Leave a comment!
And finally, as we wrap up our series next week— how to show more appreciation!