Unique Niche Markets

You have all heard of weddings and honeymoons, family travel and other niche markets that have dominated the industry for years, but what about those unusual, out-of-the-box niche markets that agents are exploring?

Travel Agent spoke to some innovative agents who are putting together some pretty unique niche markets with hopes of inspiring you to do the same.

Samantha McClure, owner of Austin, TX-based Small World Travel, an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso Agency, specializes in an unusual subset of family travel: around-the-world family vacations.

Combining a round-the-world adventure with a year’s worth of education, Small World Travel works with each individual family to develop a dream itinerary based on their top destinations as well as an educational curriculum that meets required national, state and local standards.

“It’s like three years of school altogether,” McClure says.

Back in December, during our annual Young Leaders Conference in Las Vegas, Travel Agent spoke to an agent, Marc Rochman of The Epic Date, which is essentially a date planning and consulting agency designed for those visiting and living in Chicago. It is for pre-established couples. For those looking for turnkey execution for "off the beaten path" romantic activities while in Chicago, it is a great option.

Rochman plans afternoon and evening dates and works with a wide range of budgets. 

“Generally speaking, the service isn't so much for the couple who is content doing the typical tourist activities such as a visit to Navy Pier or shopping on Michigan Ave,” says Rochman. “It is more for the couple looking for something a little different such as the best Korean BBQ in Chicago or the coolest Speakeasy bar.  Planning great dates is super time consuming, especially for those who are not familiar with the city.”

Rochman says the idea was spawned because “I've always spent quite a bit of time and much effort on planning dates for who ever I've dated and have consistently received positive feedback on the quality of dates I've planned. One of the girls I dated a while back mentioned that I should turn my date planning skills into a business and eventually, I did.”
Another unorthodox, yet potentially lucrative niche, we stumbled upon was Hawaii Agri-tourism. Farm-to-table cuisine has taken off in recent years as travelers demand more localized meals that fit their destination. In Hawaii, hotels throughout the islands offer trips to local farms and ranches, where visitors can learn about Hawaiian produce and cuisine, and can even choose the ingredients for that evening’s meal. For example, for the last year at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Executive Sous Chef Jayson Kanekoa offered a Chef Shuttle package, in which he takes guests to the local farmers markets, private farms and sometimes fish markets. They buy fresh produce and locally sourced meats and fish, and return to the hotel for the chef to create a farm-to-table dinner.

“I do see an extreme increase in clients wanting organic and healthy options when traveling, which would include visiting local farms,” says Janine Elder, CEO of Travelseeker4u. “I think this trend has developed in the past couple years, but really increased in the past year…We are planning on doing some local marketing with local business that offer this type of [experience], and working on doing a local community travel/bridal fair that will include such options.”

The Hawaii Tourism Authority’s public website (www.gohawaii.com) has a list of restaurants that offer what they call Hawaii Regional Cuisine.

According to Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the HTA, the County Product Enrichment Program (CPEP) works with the HTA to support projects related to agritourism, providing funding for various organizations, including those that manage local farmers markets and culinary festivals such as the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival.

“The HTA coordinates the development of these types of niche markets and provides visitors with access to community-based events that offer authentic experiences, drawing attention to the unique agricultural products, settings and lifestyles throughout the Hawaiian Islands.”