Marketing I took up stand-up paddle boarding this past summer. It’s a cross between surfing and kayaking and I am hooked on this sport. When we were in Dallas a few weeks ago, and staying on Grapevine Lake in an RV park, I met up with another enthusiast and as we paddled out for an hour or so, chatted about technique, places to SUP and the evolving nature of a new sport. Since my cottage is on a river that would be great for paddling, it got me thinking about this as a new niche market for attracting vacation rental clients. Differentiate from your competition By definition, a niche market focuses on meeting the needs of individuals and groups that is not being fulfilled by other providers. It’s a more narrowly defined group of potential guests than is being targeted by your main stream competitors. For example, my region of Ontario is water based; we have thousands of lakes and hundreds of miles of rivers, and 95% of vacation properties have private waterfront of some sort or another so it’s important to differentiate from the competition, particularly in the low and shoulder seasons when the buyer’s market has so much to chose from. Decide on your niche In the vacation rental business you may have several niche markets to target, dependent on the nature of your property, the region in which you are located, and the interests of the demographic you want to attract. Listing areas to focus on gives a great start to your niche marketing project. The larger niches will be the obvious ones such as golf, photography, and the mainstream outdoor activities such as skiing, but take some time to think of minority interests. Here’s a few ideas: · Paddle Boarding · Geocaching · Quilting · Gaming · Triathlon training · Writing/Studying · Species specific nature watching Research demand Targeting a niche market will only work if you have potential client base you can reach and if the niche is growing fast enough. Fads come and go, but some activities by their nature will capture enthusiasm. Geocaching is one example of a growth market that has enduring features and a steadily growing international interest. Research demand by Googling terms related to the niche and checking how many queries there have been in the past month. How many results are there? If there is high demand for information, but low returns in the number of pages available, this may be a good niche to work with. Create content The next step is to create some content on your site related to the niche, using appropriate metatags, keywords and keyword rich text. Using my paddle boarding example, I might have a page describing the sport with links to places to buy paddleboards and where to learn how to do it. Photos of people boarding on the river in front of my cottage will illustrate the easy access to the water. Since this is an easy activity to learn, I want to target beginners as well as experienced boarders as people may come to the site as a result of searching for basic information on stand-up paddleboarding. Showing them that a vacation rental is a great opportunity to have an extended period with their own waterfront and opportunities to paddle could keep them on the site longer – and consequently motivate them to book. Create a marketing strategy for your niche activity Once you’ve done the work to attract people interested in your niche, you will need to get the message out to them. Social media should figure significantly in your strategy so plan to market on your blog, Facebook, and Twitter and forums where enthusiasts gather.. If it’s an activity you can video, get it on You Tube as well. Why should you bother to establish a niche market? Because of the potential for creating a following and getting repeat business, particularly if there are few competitors doing the same thing. The possibility of attracting low season rentals should also figure in your reasoning for working on this. Let me know what your niche is and get some suggestions on how to take it forward.