My mother-in-law often bemoans the fact that her six children (the youngest being my wife) have such fickle culinary palettes. Such lamentations are delivered in concurrence with most meals she makes, as if to prepare her dinner guests for what she claims is an inferior prowess in the kitchen.
“I don’t know if this (fill in the blank) will be any good. I spent most my life making chicken nuggets and French fries,” she is prone to saying.
But as I’ve pointed out on many an occasion, not only are her meals always exquisite, but what she views as a monotonous culinary tradition is simply her way of appealing to the masses. It’s hard to satisfy everyone when everyone has such different tastes, especially six hungry kids.
The lone exceptions, of course, were birthdays, when my mother-in-law would make the favorite dish of the one child despite the moaning and meal-long hunger strikes of the five other siblings.
These suppertime travails, in many respects, are like the daily efforts of hotel marketers. To appeal to the masses through a singular ad campaign, they risk producing a watered-down message that is the food equivalent of chicken nuggets and fries—passable enough to satisfy the masses, but nothing special enough to ignite the ravenous appetite of a sample of the population.
A better strategy is niche marketing, or targeting a specific market segment in the same way my mother-in-law targeted the lone palette of one child on his or her birthday.
This approach shouldn’t come as any surprise to marketers (I hope). I bring it up only to introduce some data uncovered by Ypartnership and Harrison Group in their 2010 Portrait of American Travelers survey. The report asked more than 2,500 American households what they find extremely/very desirable when taking a vacation. The findings reveal some interesting niches deserving of your attention.
Percentage of respondents who said the following were extremely/very desirable when taking a vacation:
Organized kids activities: 49 percent
Hotel w/ distinctive theme/atmosphere: 44
Historic hotel/resort: 44
Nightlife/live entertainment: 44
Going to theme parks: 41
A place I have visited before: 41
Hiking/outdoor adventure: 40
Spa in hotel/resort: 39
Performing arts: 39
Space museum: 38
Destination spa: 34
Recreational boating: 34
Learning new skill/activity: 34
Distinctive boutique hotels: 34
Attending sports events: 31
Water sports: 26 percent
Lifestyle hotel like W: 26
Bicycling in countryside: 26
White water rafting/kayaking: 24
Mountain biking: 15
Wind/kite surfing: 14
Clothing optional: 12
Nude beach: 11
Bone fishing: 9
Many of the above niches might be familiar, but some might not. Hopefully, the list will get you to think about how best to market your product to a niche in the same way my mother-in-law used to target my wife with homemade macaroni and cheese on her birthday.