When you own a holiday property that can be seen as “niche”, it can be frustrating to find the right listing sites where to advertise it.
Some people complain about it, but others take action. Gavin Ferns, whose family owns a holiday chateau, turned his own needs into NicheEscapes.com, a website that connects owners of unique properties with travelers with specific interests.
Gavin explains why his site targets 17 different holiday rental niches, how he came about with the idea of creating Niche Escapes, and how he uses social media and online marketing to create offline relationships. He also offers good advice to rental business owners who want to target specific niches.
Gavin, you are a holiday rental owner yourself, with your family owning a French chateau. What made take the decision to go and create Niche Escapes, a listing site for holiday rentals in niche destinations?
Ironically, we were also trying to get away from the big listing sites when Niche Escapes was created in late 2013.
Having felt underserved and tired of being just another property amongst thousands of others, I thought it was time to offer travellers and guests something a little less generic and tailored to their travel interests, tastes and needs. Niche Escapes aims to inspire guests and rentals owners to explore their own travel interest but often to inspire a travel into something completely different.
Your site targets not just one niche (e.g. dog-friendly rentals like BringFido.com), but 17 different niches such as Rural Retreats, Accessible Accommodations, Historic Holiday Rentals, Cycling and Biking Escapes. How did you pick these niches?
Niche Escapes matches holiday rentals to travellers needs and interests.
Having a family owned holiday chateau it has always been very clear we are in a niche ourselves. In fact, we actually serve multiple niches. We are a chateau first. Second, we can cater for families and groups. Thirdly, we are in a cultural historic hotspot. Fourth, cyclists love staying with us.
For Niche Escapes, I chose these niches as they provide a solution to a prospective guest’s travel problem. They are also fairly popular with travellers and guests, in other words there are a lot of searches on Google for these types of getaways.
With niche marketing you can be very very niche, e.g. too narrow a market and the danger is you will find almost no traffic to your rental. Each one of these niches on my site has a large clientele looking for properties behind it. Our niches follow three broad subjects. Activity niches, specific travel interests and destinations i.e. coastal, rural and city niches. We like to find quirky and interesting properties to match these niches, but it is not always a prerequisite. The main objective is to satisfy a guest or groups needs in their travel desires.
What are the common problems that owners and managers of niche rentals face? How do you help solve these problems?
If you have identified yourself as a niche rental, then you are on the right track of solving a marketing issue. A common problem you may have is finding the right guests that fit your niche bill.
For example, you may be near a walking destination hotspot, then you would be looking for walkers and hikers. This is where Niche Escapes helps. We have identified marketing channels to target hikers and walkers. Of course, when they land on a collection of properties that are specifically tailored for walkers, they will be much more likely to rent it out due to being impressed with the selection of properties that are on offer. We also solve problems such as integrated payments and verifying properties for guests.
How do I get my property listed with Niche Escapes? What is your fee structure?
We have a listing tool where owners can list their own properties, you can select up to three niches which will allow your property to be marketed in three different areas. We vet all properties to ensure they do meet up to the niche they state they are in and our own standards. Our current fee structure is a 3% owner fee with a 10% guest fee.
You are also very active online, posting on social media, as well as offline, setting up meetups with other holiday rental owners. How do you think that building relationships online and offline helps you grow your business?
I think It is essential to develop both online and offline relationships. Online relationships often provide the conduit to offline relationships.
Online, there are many owners and suppliers to the holiday rental industry, on Twitter and Linkedin for example, who are active and looking to do business and make relations. You can also pull inspiration from social media outlets and, if you are looking for niche inspiration, then it is easy to browse sites like Pinterest and Instagram to see what is going on now within your niche and get some ideas.
Blogging for Niche Escapes allows us to inform owners and guests of what benefits there are in the niche travel industry. Offline, attending meetups and industry events are great for networking and again for inspiration for your business.
How did you like Gavin Ferns’ take on niche holiday rental marketing? Do you agree with him?
Feel free to leave a comment below to share your own experience with your fellow RentalScaleup.