7 Travel Niche Ideas for Tour Operators | Orioly | Online Booking Software

7 Travel Niche Ideas for Tour Operators

Travel is finally getting back on track. This means a restart for many travel companies that were halted since the pandemic started. The question is: how to start again in a market that has changed and fight competition that is more fierce than ever? Pivoting your product to a travel niche might be the answer.

In this article you will learn what a travel niche is, its benefits, travel niche ideas and how to choose the right niche for your business.

What is a travel niche?

A travel niche is a subcategory of travel that is suitable for a small group of people. It’s the opposite of mass tourism.

According to the Tourism Teacher Blog:

Niche tourism can be defined as ‘an umbrella tourism form, which identifies macro and micro tourism segments appealing to a specific group of travellers’.

Tour operators selling travel niche products are small or specialized businesses. They are focused on a fraction of the tourism industry.

Examples of niched tour operators are:

  • Adventure tour operators
  • Ecotour agencies
  • Food tour operators
  • Motorcycle tour operators
  • Operators focused on pet-friendly activities

Ok, now that you know what a travel niche is, you might be asking yourself:

Why should I invest my time and money in a niched product if I could target a larger audience?

That’s what we will answer next.

Advantages of working with travel niches

medieval festival tourism travel niche ideas

Travel niche operators are seen as experts in their area. This is very positive for your business. Especially if you are a small operator or working with a limited budget.

Being an expert means:

Better marketing results

Speaking directly to a small audience that shares the same demographics and interests makes your message stand out from the competition. In other words, you will be able to make a bigger impact with a lower budget.

Less competition

Someone who is searching for a food tour, or a slow tourism experience, for example, will prefer to book with a specialized operator rather than booking with a mass tourism agency. Furthermore, how many specialized operators do you know in your destination?

More loyal customers

Travelers interested in niched experiences are usually loyal to the brands they buy. Loyal travelers can become recurring customers and help promote your services through word of mouth.

Better profit margins

When you have authority in your area you can charge premium prices for your products. Furthermore, travelers looking for a niche experience are willing to pay more for it.

Expand your distribution channels

You will be able to sell on traditional OTA’s as well as on travel-focused OTA’s. Niched OTA’s address specific needs that niched audiences have, for example, they provide expert customer service.

Make a positive impact on your destination

Niche tourism is often viewed as being a more positive form of tourism than mass tourism. Niched travelers are usually more conscious of their impact when traveling, and guiding a smaller group will demand fewer resources from the host community.

Are you convinced that niche tourism is for your business? If yes, let’s check some travel niche ideas.

Travel niche ideas tour operators can work with

Niche tourism is a space of endless possibilities. For every business idea, there is a group of people waiting to consume it.

Let’s take a look at 7 travel niche ideas you can invest your money and time.

1. Dark tourism

dark tourism chernobyl pripyat travel niche ideas

Believe it or not, there are people who enjoy travel experiences focused on death, disaster, tragedy, destruction, and the macabre. This travel niche receives the name dark tourism.

But there is an explanation for people being interested in this type of tourism.

It’s human nature to be curious about something that we don’t understand. Dark tourism is about that, visiting places with an interesting or intriguing history.

Many travelers search for this type of experience in order to learn the place’s history or to understand something grim. Others are only looking for a bigger philosophical depth when visiting such places.

TV shows also have something to do with the recent popularization of dark tourism. In the past years, Pripyat, a small Ukranian city, has experienced a boom in tourists after HBO’s TV series Chernobyl.

If you want to design a dark tourism product, look after local sites with an obscure history.

Once you find them, the next step is creating interesting and compelling storytelling that will captivate your future guests. 

2. Halal tourism

halal tourism in malasya travel niche ideas

Do you have a deep understanding of the Islamic traveler and culture? If yes, this might be your space.

Halal tourism is the travel niche dedicated to Muslim tourists who abide by the rules of Islam. 

Travel products focused on Halal travelers are alcohol and pork-free, include prayer timings, and offer separate services for men and women.

This market represents 50 million consumers only in Europe and over 1.6 billion worldwide. Despite its huge potential, Halal tourism is underrated in western countries.

Food tour operators can stand out in this segment by applying for halal certification. This document states that the food on your tour follows the Muslim rites of preparation and packaging.

3. Agro-tourism

teenage girls using mobile phone to take selfies during agro tourism tour travel niche ideas

People who like visiting working farms or other agricultural sites for the purpose of enjoyment or education are into agro-tourism.

Don’t fool yourself, agro-tourism is a growing market. Its growth is connected to the high demand for outdoor experiences and people’s urge to connect with nature.

Examples of activities related to agro-tourism are:

  • Wildlife study
  • Horseback riding
  • Cannery tours
  • Cooking classes
  • Wine tasting
  • Corn mazes
  • Hayrides
  • Cut-your-own Christmas tree farms
  • Petting zoos.

If you got excited about the idea but don’t have a rural property, don’t worry, you can partner with local producers. I’m sure many farmers in your destination are looking to diversify their activities and increase profits.

4. Ethnic tourism

maori warrior during ethnic tourism travel niche ideas

This travel niche is supported by many countries interested in facilitating the economic and cultural development of minority groups, often Indigenous communities.

Examples of communities that attract tourists include the Amish of the United States, the First Nation societies of Canada and North America, and the Maori of New Zealand.

Ethnic tourism is intended for travelers seeking a deep connection with their ancestors. Also for the ones that love discovering new cultures, rituals and gastronomy.

If you operate in an area close to a native or traditional community, investing in ethnic tourism might be a good idea. 

A survey conducted by the Australian government found that tourists that experienced ethnic tourism showed a high level of satisfaction and an interest in further ethnic tourism experiences.

5. Armchair tourism

virtual reality travel niche ideas

A travel niche that has grown after the pandemic is armchair tourism. But what is that?

This term refers to travelers that want to explore the world from the comfort of their homes. This makes it easier to understand why this trend has become popular during a period when people were unable to travel.

Amid lockdowns, the industry had to adapt to the new reality. The result was the development of travel experiences based on technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality.

Many destinations and travel brands use this type of tourism as marketing material to attract visitors and guests. For your information, more than 2500 museums worldwide have a virtual tour for anyone interested and most are free of charge.

If you wanna try this travel niche, start by offering a virtual version of your tours. Platforms like Viator have a section on their website dedicated to virtual experiences.

6. Stargazing tourism

starry sky desert travel niche ideas

Do you like staring at a star-filled sky during the night? If you don’t, probably you know someone who does.

Stargazing tourism embraces a market focused on this public. There are many locations worldwide with beautiful skies that travelers would love to experience.

Alaska, Iceland and Norway, for example, are popular destinations for this type of tourism. There, travelers can appreciate the beautiful show of the northern lights.

The clean sky of desertic areas also makes them great for stargazing. No wonder Utah and Chile are home to famous observatories and telescopes. Dark Ranger Telescope Tours is a great example of an operator who learned how to capitalize on the beautiful sky above the desert.

7. Women solo adventures

woman adventure tourism travel niche ideas

How about focusing your business on a micro niche?

Over time, many operators opened their eyes to the importance of women in travel and created offers dedicated to this public. But you can be more specific than just designing tours for women.

There is an unexplored segment inside this market for solo female travelers looking for adrenaline. That is women solo adventures tourism.

That sounds promising, right?

But don’t think that starting a business that specific is an easy task. First, you will need to understand what a solo woman looking for adventure wants to experience and work hard to ensure that your guests will have an amazing, safe and enjoyable time during their trip.

Which travel niche to choose?

A travel niche doesn’t need to be something completely new, complicated, or too specific. Specializing your business in a certain demographic, destination, or type of travel should do the trick.

In order to choose the right travel niche to venture into, you should get some things straight.

What are you passionate about?

Narrowing down your service means working with something that you love. This sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?

After all, if you want to become an expert in your area you should have a deep understanding of the field you will be working with.

Who are your customers?

You should know your audience like the back of your hand. If you have no clue about who your ideal customer is, you should check out this blog.

Knowing your audience is essential to create an unforgettable experience. Also, you need this knowledge to guide your marketing efforts.

Which travel niche suits you better?

The perfect niche for your business is the one that fulfills the points previously listed.

Host Agency Reviews has created a list of travel niches that is worth taking a look at. Maybe you can find the perfect niche for your business there.

If you are still unsure about which type of niche to choose, they also have a worksheet to help you with that. If the worksheet looks complicated, check out their guide which explains how to use it.

Conclusion

Travel niche trends are to become more mainstream in the future travel space. Mainly due to the needs of the post-pandemic traveler, who is avoiding mass tourism products and looking to connect with the place they visit.

In this blog we gave 7 travel niche ideas for tour operators to focus their business on:

  1. Dark tourism
  2. Halal tourism
  3. Agro-tourism
  4. Ethnic tourism
  5. Armchair tourism
  6. Stargazing tourism
  7. Women solo adventures

If you got inspired by any of these, or if you find out another travel niche to focus on, the first step is extensively studying the market you want to work with.

Once you have a niche product ready to sell, the next step is to plan your marketing strategy to reach your ideal customer. Don’t have a big budget for marketing? No problem.

Download now our ebook Low Budget Digital Marketing Strategies for Tour Operators and learn strategies to boost your digital marketing efforts at a low and even zero cost for your business.

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