For small operators in particular, knowing your market is at the root of business success. It means that not only can you offer exactly what they’re looking for, but you can reach them and communicate with them effectively.
The Rainbow Connection is a useful example of a business that has a clearly defined market, and uses that knowledge to build business.
As the first and only gay and lesbian designated accommodation in Central Australia, the business is ideally positioned to corner a growing and lucrative market segment. Around 80 per cent of guests come from overseas.
“Our guests are looking for stylish, soft adventure experiences and iconic visitation,” said The Rainbow Connection’s Phil Walcott.
“They are aged from early 20s to late 70s, gay or lesbian (including transgender, intersex etc.), cyberspace savvy, professional, with a medium-high level of disposable income.”
Knowing the market well means understanding that a significant proportion of guests will find the accommodation through online search, coming directly to the site or via the major gay and lesbian online associations: GALTA (Gay & Lesbian Tourism Australia) and IGLTA (the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association).
Phil is Regional Director of GALTA for the Northern Territory and finds that ‘bundling’ of product through GALTA is a highly successful strategy. GALTA works hard to support similar businesses around Australia and has a presence at significant events across the country.
Linking to organisations and agencies that target your market is essential, and needs to go beyond listings to proactive packaging and participation in collaborative marketing initiatives.
“We have benefited from forging strong links with mainstream operators locally, domestically and internationally, and with RTAs [regional tourism associations], STOs [state tourism organisations], ITOs [inbound tour operators] and Tourism Australia.”
Phil also seeks out links and listings on other relevant sites and ensures that The Rainbow Connection is marketed through the international gay and lesbian Spartacus Guide.
Getting the word out is only part of the picture though. Once travellers find the site, effort goes into personalised email contact, and The Rainbow Connection keeps in touch with past guests through email, encouraging word of mouth marketing.
This is a market that values personal service and attention to detail, so this kind of follow-through is vital.
Significantly, the marketing strategies that The Rainbow Connection has found most effective don’t involve expensive advertising campaigns. Online marketing is bringing and retaining virtually all their guests, along with a presence at carefully targeted events, and one important international guide listing.
Success comes from a clear knowledge of where their prospects are, how they research travel, and what they are looking for.