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5 Niche Markets Travel Agents Should Consider In 2017

It's a new year, and just like the years before, 2017 promises significant landscape changes in one of the most competitive industries in the world. There will be changes and new additions that are bound to affect your travel business one-way or the other. We are entering a year that will see technology influence the way people travel more than ever. Big data will play a significant role in consumers' decision making, and the major tech giants like Google and Facebook will be looking to get their piece of the 7.5 Trillion dollar travel industry. As a professional travel agent, you will be forced to find new ways to stay competitive, and keep providing value for the consumers in a way that technology can't. One of the most effective ways of doing that is by focusing on underserved or overlooked niche travel products that are currently or soon to be generating significant revenue and growth. With that in mind, here five of the top niche travel market categories you may want to consider in 2017.

1. Libertine Travel

The first question many of you may be asking is, "What is Libertine Travel? To make it very simple and without beating around the bush, Libertine Travel also known as lifestyle travel is the travel market segment that caters to the more open minded or liberal type of travellers such as nudists, swinger couples, adult adventure seekers, fetish and any other lifestyle interest that the more conservative person would consider as taboo. Not all of us are brave enough to promote these type of products, but those that are more business minded would care less about the opinions and more about the fact that 20 Billion Dollars was spent last year by travellers looking for such type of vacation packages according to Forbes Magazine. This past December at the annual Jamaica Tourist Board travel agent awards, 3 of the top 10 sellers of Jamaica owned websites that offer Libertine based travel products. Including the number one, number three and number 8 ranked sellers. There are many resorts in countries like Jamaica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic that cater to this Niche Group. There are also several cruise ship takeovers including a newly launched "Desire Cruise Line" that is exclusively for the Clothing Optional Couples audience. Adding these products to your portfolio may be against your beliefs and that is entirely OK. However, for those that do not have the same reservations, Libertine Travel may be one of the Top Niche Products for travel agents in 2017.

2. Special Needs Travel

Special needs travellers have "Special Needs", and when travellers have specific requirements they need to be fulfilled to make their travel hassle-free, they look for a Travel Agent. There are people with mobility issues, whether obtained from birth, accidents or through ageing that still wants to travel. Booking a vacation for them is not as simple as going online and selecting the cheapest available seat and room category. They will need the resort or airline to have special facilities that can accommodate their mobility requirements. This sounds to me like the perfect opportunity for a travel agent to step in, do the research, find the products that are suitable and make the booking for those clients. Almost 20% of the North American population have at least one disability and every day more than 10,000 Americans turn 65 years old. These people still want to travel, and that market is only going to continue to grow in 2017. Do not be one of those agents that overlook the potential of the Special Needs travel market.

3. Wellness Travel

The Wellness Travel trend is one of the hottest travel trends in the industry, and as the world becomes more obsessed with immortality and age defiance, this trend will continue to grow. Expect to see more products than ever popping up in 2017, based on health, wellness and spirituality. Yoga and Meditation retreats will be highly desired, and as a travel professional, you have the perfect opportunity to be one of the leaders in helping to make the world a healthier place. Maybe that is not among your list of ambitions, but I am sure making more commissions is. Many Asian Destinations are now categorising themselves as "Wellness Destinations" and as these Destinations continue to grow more popular, you can look to see similar trends starting in other hot tourist destinations such as Europe and the Caribbean. This market will be one of the fastest growing markets in 2017, so I would recommend making 2017 your healthiest year yet.

4. Organized Tours

You have probably seen dozens of articles regarding the hot and rapidly rising "Millennial Travel Trend." We are shifting to an area where the up and coming leaders of this world prefer vacations over owning homes and cars. The good news for travel agents is that the trend also indicates that these younger set of travellers have little interest in sitting down and scouring through dozens of price comparison websites, but would prefer to have an expert put their itinerary together for them. If you are going to be one of the agents that capitalise on the business coming in from Millennial travellers, it is important for you to know that they are less interested in being stuck on a resort for 7 days laying on a beach, and more interested in adventure and experiences. This means that you will capture their attention by offering products based around organised, multi-destination tours. Millennial prefer experiences of over luxury and relaxation. If you do not partner with a vendor that provides these types of products in 2017, then it may be too late by the time you are ready.

5. Specialty Cruises

One thing we can all agree on is that the world is more distracted more than ever before. With new social trends such as Facebook and Instagram Live, there have never been more external influencers than there is today. Getting your brand and message to resonate with a niche audience will become increasingly difficult in 2017, despite the increased number of free mediums available. To stay relevant, travel agents will need to be different, and this means finding one of a kind products to add to your portfolio. A great place to look is Speciality Cruises. Whether it's event based cruises like the Rock Boat, themed cruises like Disney or special interest cruises for niche groups such as singles or the LGBT community, there are a wide variety of unique offerings in the cruise market that you can use to capture the attention of today's over-exposed consumers. Due to its complexity and the fact that majority of cruise passengers are first-time cruisers, consumers tend to prefer using a travel agent whenever they are booking cruises. Marketing Specialty Cruises will be a great way for you to attract an audience in 2017.


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