How to Choose a Travel Marketplace Niche

It’s likely that if you’ve decided to build a travel marketplace, you already have a niche in mind that you want to target. But maybe you haven’t gone about it that way. Maybe you just want to break into the travel industry, figure a marketplace is the best place to start, and are looking for some inspiration and guidance on what to do next. If so, you’re in the right place.

It goes without saying really: Choosing the right travel niche for your marketplace is going to be fundamental to your business. So how do you go about making the big decision? Do you set up in a niche that you know well? Do you take on a market with few competitors? Do you focus on a particular country or tourism sector? The possibilities really are endless.

Five factors to think about when selecting your travel marketplace niche

Here are some things to bear in mind as you go about choosing the focus of your travel marketplace.

Knowledge is power

As with any business, knowing the industry you want to work in and understanding the kind of customers you are trying to appeal to is absolutely crucial. Let’s say you want to set up a marketplace dedicated to travel in France. Do you know the country, have a good idea of its appeal and understand why tourists go there? If you can’t answer these questions positively, you might want to reconsider.

Going one step further, choosing a niche that you already have experience in is usually a good idea. If you’ve worked in the travel industry before, you may have contacts in a certain niche already. Filling up your marketplace with sellers is going to be one of your biggest challenges. Sure, you can reach out to vendors and entice them in, but if you already have a strong network, it’s a no-brainer.

Don’t underestimate enthusiasm

At the foundation of your travel marketplace is you and your team. As with any startup, there are going to be ups and downs, moments when everything feels like it’s against you, and times when you will wonder what on earth you signed up for. This is to be expected, especially in the world of travel.

Setting up and scaling your marketplace will be your biggest challenge, so enthusiasm and a willingness to go the extra mile will definitely come in handy. So how does this tie into which travel niche you are going to select?

Well, you should set up a marketplace in a niche that you’re passionate about – a market that will inspire you to get out of bed on the bad days.

Read more about team building in the travel industry

There are also some technical specifications that you should look for in any potential travel market niche…

Competition is a good thing

As a travel marketplace, competition among providers is what brings value to your platform. If there is plenty of choice for customers and vendors are fragmented, the aggregation you offer will act as a magnet.

Ideally, you want to set up an online marketplace in a sector where there are plenty of operators and customers. Choose a niche where competition is limited, and you may have difficulty persuading vendors to share their profits with you and set up in your marketplace.

Of course, if there is competition in terms of other marketplaces, you may want to assess things more closely. Other marketplaces in the niche you are considering suggests that the marketplace format is viable – it’s up to you if you want to compete and become the marketplace in that niche.

Is there any loyalty?

It’s well established that loyalty is increasingly hard to come by in the travel industry. Luckily, this is where the value of a marketplace comes to the fore. If travellers used the same operator every time they arranged a trip or chose a tour, aggregating agencies together would be pointless.

Your task is to build a marketplace that inspires loyalty by offering the best of what is available in your chosen niche. So think: Does your niche have a particularly high level of loyalty compared to travel in general? If you’re wanting to aggregate food tours or excursions, perfect – people tend to do them once and move on. Zero loyalty. Accommodation, on the other hand, might be a different story.

Do you fit into the transaction?

When buyers and sellers use an online marketplace to exchange money for goods or services, things are happening in the background that wouldn’t be in the real world. We all know that marketplaces make their profit by handling the transaction and giving vendors their portion of the revenue with the necessary fees automatically deducted. Vitally, for both sellers and buyers, fees are easy to tolerate when that money was never really present in the first place.

So how does this impact upon which travel niche you choose? Well, first of all, are your end customers used to going through a third party for the service or products you’ll be offering? Are the vendors in your niche working with profit margins wide enough to give you room for commission? For more information on this, read our post on building a travel marketplace pricing strategy.

choosing a travel marketplace niche

Selecting a travel niche doesn’t have to be a leap of faith. There are plenty of things to consider first.

How big is the opportunity?

If this sounds obvious that’s probably because it is. But still, it needs to be said.

How much potential is there in your chosen niche? For sales right now and for sales 6 months, or even 6 years down the line? You don’t need a crystal ball to make an educated prediction. Setting up a marketplace in the travel industry with your eyes closed isn’t a good idea. You need to know the market, the changing attitudes of your would-be customers, and the potential for sales and growth

A proper analysis of these factors should be the foundation of your business plan before you get started. This is also a good point at which you can set some goals. How much of the market captured would stand for success in your opinion?

Vitally, you need to make these predictions with one crucial factor in mind: Your marketplace. The best travel marketplaces, across countries, niches and sectors always always always create new value. This might be encouraging vendors to offer combined deals, special offers and out-of-season trips, or devising your own products through picking and choosing the best bits from your sellers.

To thrive you’ll need to do more than simply offer a platform for the goods and services of others. Because of this, the current market size doesn’t necessarily reflect how big an opportunity your niche really is.

The frequency of sales

Some travel niches are always going to be held back because it’s in their nature. Honeymoons for example. Or skiing trips. Honeymoons (if all goes well) are only going to be bought once per person at the most. There’s not going to be much in the way of return buyers or repeat business. Skiing trips tend to work on a seasonal basis, so sales are not going to be made all year-round.

When choosing your travel sector, it’s important to think about the frequency of sales, and preferably select a niche that will allow you to do repeat business 365 days a year. That’s not to say that super-niche, seasonal or one-time product marketplaces can’t be a success. But startups tend to rely on regular revenue streams, so perhaps that’s something to look at further down the line.

Plenty of marketplaces go under because they target purchasing cycles that are too infrequent. As well as hitting your revenue stream, this kind of niche makes it more difficult to build brand awareness through word of mouth.

As we mentioned above, the best travel marketplaces will grow their chosen sector and create new value. Why not encourage your sellers to offer a certain tour all year round, or introduce some special out-of-season packages?

choose a travel marketplace niche

The world of travel is full of the unexpected. We can help make sure you’re as prepared as possible.

Where Travelshift comes in

So, you’re probably wondering why on earth we’re giving away this valuable travel industry information for free. Well, in case you didn’t know already, here at Travelshift we build marketplace software and platforms that really work. Just take a look at the case study of our now booming marketplace for travel services in Iceland. We take care of all the technical stuff in the background – all you need is a travel niche, a willingness to build contacts in that sector, and no small amount of dedication.

Once you’ve got all of that covered, feel free to get in touch.

Travel Marketplace Pricing Strategy – Where to Start

Deciding on a pricing strategy for your travel marketplace is at the very centre of your business model. It’s what will define your platform in the long run, and most importantly, your relationship with customers and sellers going forwards.

To begin with, let’s take a closer look at what you need to consider before potential revenue streams are even put on the table.

What you need to consider when developing a pricing strategy for your marketplace

Marginal costs

Before you place any pricing strategy in place, it’s vital that you understand how your sellers are making money and what kind of profit margins they are working with. Setting your commission at an acceptable rate is going to be key to attracting and retaining sellers as you get started.

Generally in the world of travel, profit margins are thin because the competition is so fierce. Your sellers are likely to have plenty of overheads. Food, booking fees, transport, local taxes, excursions and accommodation can all be packaged together in a single product. So in other words, it’s likely that your sellers will not have a huge profit margin that you can freely skim from.

So the key takeaway here is preparation. If you want to attract tourism sellers into your marketplace, you’re going to need to understand how they work, where they make their profit, and how much commission is going to be acceptable from their end.


As well as having a good understanding of your vendors’ profits, other competition is going to go a long way to defining your offering to prospective sellers. Sure, you can set a 40% commission rate on transactions, but if there are other marketplaces out there providing the same service for half the fee, you’re not going to get anywhere fast

Take the time to understand the sources of your sellers’ sales. Do they have arrangements with other marketplaces? Do they only sell through their own website? Do they only have a physical presence, a store that people walk into? The answers to these questions will give you a firm understanding of your sellers’ methods of distribution, and will inevitably help to shape your pricing strategy.   

Network effects

The term ‘Network Effect’ refers to the idea that a marketplace becomes more valuable to its users as it grows bigger. In travel, it’s easy to see why this might be the case. Accommodation services such as AirBnB offer the perfect example. More accommodation across more countries and cities gives a greater amount of choice to customers and therefore the platform becomes more valuable. More choice inevitably means more visitors to the platform, which, in a nutshell, is why strong network effects can justify higher commission fees. If your potential sellers will benefit from joining an expanding marketplace, they’ll be willing to pay for it.

network effects impacting your travel marketplace pricing strategy?

How will network effects impact your travel marketplace?

In the world of travel services, the benefits are not so clear for your prospective sellers. Sure, if you can offer them a huge amount of exposure then they will be willing to accept a high rate of commission, but if throwing them among a bunch of their hottest competition actually loses them sales, they may not be so keen. Every marketplace is different, and you need to decide how the structure of yours will impact upon potential sellers.

Getting down to business

Let’s suppose that your travel niche has been chosen. Now you need to approach potential sellers with an offer that monetises your marketplace without discouraging buyers or sellers.

Let’s take a look at your options. With travel marketplaces, the platform operator will generally produce revenue from the seller’s side. Customers are unlikely to accept paying for simply locating and facilitating travel and tourism services, while vendors understand that positioning themselves in front of your audience is worth paying a price for. On the other hand, attracting a good range of sellers is key to getting your marketplace off the ground. The amount of commission and the way that it’s taken need to be carefully thought through.

So how can you devise a sustainable pricing strategy that doesn’t alienate sellers or customers while driving the growth of your marketplace? Let’s take a closer look at some of the monetization models you can employ on the seller side without ruffling too many feathers.

The big question: Charge per transaction or per listing? Or both? 

So first up we have the transaction fee, which is as simple as it sounds. Every time a seller completes a transaction on your platform, the marketplace takes a small percentage. This is considered acceptable by most vendors, as they only incur fees when they’re actually making money, and can adjust their prices to account for the commission. Because of this, it doesn’t feel like they are out of pocket at any time. On top of that, the customers don’t see all of this happening in real time, so won’t therefore be put off by perceived price hikes. 

Transaction fees have a few obvious benefits. First of all, they encourage vendors to join your marketplace. Or rather they don’t dissuade vendors by charging upfront or requiring a registration fee. Secondly, your suppliers carry less risk because they only pay you when a sale has been made. The last thing vendors want is for their products to sit on your platform and burn a whole through their pocket if the sales dry up.

The transaction fee model also scales nicely in the travel industry. The more trips your vendors successfully sell, the more your revenue increases. Everybody wins.   

The difficulty comes in deciding what rate of transaction fee to go for. A small percentage is a good place to start, but you may want to arrange separate deals with each of your sellers, depending on their profit margins, the products they are selling and the quantity they are likely to sell through your marketplace. The bottom line is simple: If you can afford to offer a bespoke transaction fee to each of your sellers that takes into account all of these factors, you’ll be in a much healthier position going forwards.

So with all of that in mind, why would you even consider listing fees, which would hit all of your vendors before a sale is even made?

Well, if vendors only need to pay to list items, they are free to rake in the full amount from sales, and are therefore encouraged to offer as many options as possible to your audience. On top of that, listing fees can help to ensure that your marketplace is only populated with quality, well thought out products. Sellers that need to pay to list on your site are more likely to create convincing, well-written listings. That can only be a good thing from the customer’s perspective.   

To bring in extra revenue from the listing fee model, many marketplaces offer extra things to sellers to give them an upper hand. These features might include a highlighted listing or pride of place on the homepage. If you serve a big enough market these add-ons can be lucrative.

Of course, you could charge per listing, in an effort to keep the quality of listings high, and per transaction. But this double-edged approach, although convincing on paper, may cause potential vendors to baulk and take their business elsewhere. Perhaps it’s only something that should be introduced once your marketplace is established and has a clear offering to propose to vendors.   

Finding the right pricing strategy

So you’ve decided to charge per transaction or per listing, or maybe a devilish combination of the two. But how do you go about selecting an appropriate pricing strategy? Even if you’ve chosen a niche in the travel market that isn’t fully catered for, there’s still going to be an element of competition. Because of this, your marketplace needs to offer value to vendors, not simply be an expensive addition to their sales network.

Intuitively, it might seem as though you need to make as much money as possible from every transaction in your marketplace. You’re running a business after all, so that instinct is understandable. But travel marketplace owners have to be aware of how a pricing strategy will impact things in the long term.

What could happen if you set your rates too high?

Well, to begin with, you’ll quickly undermine the whole point of having a travel marketplace. Remember that an excessive take rate will always, inevitably, find it’s way to the travellers you are eagerly trying to service. It only takes a little jump in prices across the board for your marketplace to become untenable for sellers and, by association, too restrictive for customers.    

For that reason, a high rate of commission will be hugely damaging to your hopes of keeping up supply and attracting fresh buyers and sellers. Fees that are too high will encourage your vendors to look elsewhere, and your platform will, even if operating in a carefully chosen travel niche, become vulnerable to competitors with lower rates.

There is no right answer

Strictly speaking, that’s not really true. There is a right answer, but there is certainly no one-size-fits-all solution to setting up a marketplace pricing strategy. To hit the sweet spot with your vendors and still make a profit yourself, you’ll need to understand how they operate, where they sell, and what kind of prices they can tolerate before selling through your platform becomes too restrictive.

To begin with, driving supply has to be your priority. For that reason, it’s best to err on the side of caution and keep fees to a minimum as you get started.

Whether you go for a transaction fee or a listing fee, you’ll need to build a marketplace that can offer an efficient, valuable platform to vendors and customers…

That’s where we come in

Travelshift software is a proven travel marketplace solution to get you started in the industry. Essentially, we’ve done all of the hard, (often tedious) and technical work for you. All you need to do is plug in your vendors, devise great content, and build an engaged community of users. Have a closer look at our product here.

How Will President Trump Affect Travel Industry

As tempting as it was to draft a new post about travel industry technology or the latest SEO techniques, both article choices would have left a yuuuuge xenophobic and populist elephant in the room. Here at Travelshift we have no problem delving into the big issues; so here goes nothing. This week we’re going to talk about Donald Trump, and take a closer look at how his rise to the office of President of the United States might affect tourism. How will President Trump affect the travel industry?

donald trump travel industry affect

Trump election goes against foundations of travel industry

The initial reaction from many in the travel and technology industries – or those halfway between the two, like us – will likely be one of shock and dismay. At the core of travel is a willingness to grow, to learn, to expand your horizons. Travel is what drives and what results from an increasingly connected world in which the freedoms of trade and movement and exploration are freedoms to be shared by all. In short, we’re all about breaking down barriers with progressive ideals and innovation.

But what we have witnessed in America in recent days has been the dismissal of those ideals. It’s been a kick in the teeth, rightly or wrongly, for globalisation, delivered by those who feel they have been left behind. Instead of continuing to lead the world in breaking down social barriers, the United States has elected a president that literally wants to build them up. A campaign littered with racism and misogyny has left minorities feeling uncomfortable in the country they call home. Issues of race, poverty, age, wealth, education and gender will all come to define an election that will go down in history. A country is divided, and nobody knows how things are going to work out.

To say that Donald Trump’s campaign and ultimately, his election, go against everything the travel industry stands for would be an understatement. But rhetoric and actions are two completely different things. Playing to a populist crowd and enacting legislation are two different things. Whether Trump goes through with his many suggested policies will go a long way to determining his impact on the travel industry.

America wakes up a nation divided

As we have just explained, traditionally those in travel and tech are a pretty liberal bunch. The rise of a populist, right-wing candidate in the USA is troubling whether or not you are based in the States. This is especially the case when much of Trump’s support appears to have come from an echo of white supremacy, as not for the first time in recent months a political campaign harnessed racial tensions for maximum impact. One of Trump’s many slogans referred to building a wall between Mexico and the United States, another key message was his willingness to deport all Muslims from America and restrict the travel of an entire religion. And then there was the relentless barrage of misogyny faced by his opponent in the presidential race, Hilary Clinton, who was vying to be the first female commander in chief.

Sure, the travel industry isn’t as diverse as it could be, but industries often reflect the societies and political climates they are built in, not the other way around.

This, from Skift CEO Rafat Ali, puts it quite nicely:

Every bit of travel news, every trend, every analysis, every product we have put out since we started four and a half years ago, everything speaks to the progressive, interconnected future of the world, it is the reason for our existence, it is the reason for existence of our industry, the world’s largest industry.

The geopolitical realities of our world are worth embracing by the travel industry, instead of ignoring them or, worse still, wishing them away. And even more so, travelers will reward the industry for it by traveling more, by being more aware of the world and travel’s key place in it, rather than staying in isolationist bubbles for people to indulge in when they need an escape once in a while.

Travel is the most progressive expression of human curiosity. It behooves us to take on more activist roles on behalf of our right to travel, and the future of the travel.”

Nationalism on the march

Donald Trump’s campaign was a victory for inward-looking nationalism, a landslide for isolationism and intolerance. The worrying thing is that these sentiments are in no way exclusive to this presidential campaign. Increased nationalistic sentiment can be seen across much of the western world, from the Brexit vote in the UK to the rise of the right wing in France, Switzerland, Austria and across Scandinavia. Nationalist sentiment, when harnessed in such a negative fashion, can and will impact on tourism; whether potential visitors find it slightly unwelcoming or completely offputting.

Donald trump travel industry america

The rise of racially motivated hate crimes in the UK since the Brexit vote has been nothing short of terrifying, and it’s easy to imagine a similar, more extreme reaction occurring all over America in the coming months. After all, the US is a country essentially built on undercurrents of racial tension and social injustice.

All of this adds up to America fast becoming as unappealing a destination as it’s ever been. A recent article in The Independent took a closer look at the reaction of potential UK tourists to the US after Trump’s win:

A leading travel industry figure has warned that many prospective British visitors to the US may decide not to go as a result of Donald Trump’s election. Joel Brandon-Bravo, UK managing director for Travelzoo, said: “Following confirmation of a win for Donald Trump in the presidential election today, we’re now forecasting an unstable 2017 for US tourism, with over one million UK travelers set to reconsider the country as a holiday destination.”

That’s right: 1 million potential UK travelers are considering a boycott of the United States while Trump is at the helm.

Travelzoo survey shows how Trump can impact travel intentions

A poll of American citizens conducted by Travelzoo suggests that people are concerned about what the outside world will make of the 2016 presidential election. Sixty-nine percent of those polled are worried that the election negatively impacts how U.S. citizens are perceived overseas.

The Travelzoo Fall 2016 Travel Trends Survey also found that tourism going out of America is set to change. Canada and Great Britain are on travelers’ minds; particularly the former. A third of those surveyed felt that Canada’s reputation as a potential destination has significantly benefited from the Trump saga. A large percentage (Thirty-six, to be precise) were looking to take advantage of the fall of the Pound and visit the UK. However, this may have changed already as the Dollar begins to fall. We’ll come to that in a moment.

So, apart from a fall in liberal, principled tourists, what other impacts on incoming travelers can America now expect as a result of President Trump?…

Donald Trump’s Muslim rhetoric – How will it impact travel?

You might remember that back in December 2015 Donald Trump said: “I am calling for a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.” 

So, let’s suppose that the Donald stands firm on this, and even goes as far as to begin his deportation policy on the Islamic population in the US. Clearly, it’s a politically ridiculous policy and one that would probably be impossible to impose. Besides the fact that it’s worryingly familiar rhetoric to the kind used in Europe in the 1930s, there isn’t exactly a ‘Muslim’ tag on every passport.

For prospective tourists, this kind of vigilant vetting process is sure to be off-putting, let alone the right-wing, isolationist motivations behind it. It’s a policy, if enforced, that will horrify states heavily dependent on tourism, such as Florida, Nevada and California, not just liberals who believe in freedom of movement and human decency.

Travel and tourism are directly impacted by government policies on trade and immigration. Trump’s campaign rhetoric focused on immigration and the relationship particularly with Mexico will have a direct bearing on the performance of U.S. tourism, as Mexico is expected to overtake Canada by the end of 2016 to be the largest source of tourism demand to the U.S.” –  Caroline Bremner, international head of travel, Euromonitor.

It’s difficult to imagine that Trump’s rhetoric won’t also have a huge impact on the number of Mexicans and Muslims entering the US. Those are some pretty big demographics to instantly dismiss. The Council on Foreign Relations estimates that a travel ban on Muslims to the U.S. could cost the country up to $71 billion per year and up to 132,000 jobs.

Will Trump’s election hit the dollar?

Currency markets don’t like uncertainty and instability, and there’s little doubt that those are two of the feelings felt by many Americans and outside observers at the moment. As a result, the Dollar has already begun to slide.

But it’s not all bad news for the American tourism industry. Sure, outbound travel is likely to go down, but a falling dollar will stimulate increased demand for domestic tourism, as Americans with less disposable income choose to holiday at home instead.

Although a Trump downturn, should it occur, would have a negative impact across a wide range of consumer markets, this impact will not be catastrophic. In addition there could also be opportunities for home-grown American brands, and those whose marketing message registers with Trump’s rhetoric and is centered on nostalgia, localism and heritage.” – Caroline Bremner, international head of travel, Euromonitor.

How will Trump affect travel industry: A look on the bright side

While many Americans will have been left distraught at the result, those in the travel industry can at least take comfort in Trump’s business background. As a man with a vested interest in the world of hospitality and travel, he has already highlighted the importance of improving tourism infrastructure across America, from roads to bridges and airports. He will also no doubt appreciate that tourism accounts for around 10 percent of American exports.

Speaking with Skift, U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow put a positive spin on things. “I am confident that he [Trump] will be a valuable ally in advancing some of our industry’s key priorities. Mr. Trump demonstrated throughout his campaign that travel and infrastructure issues have his attention, and we stand ready to advise his administration on achieving his stated aims in these areas.”

Trump’s pledge to boost the country’s crumbling infrastructure with a huge investment initiative is certainly a popular policy among travel industry professionals. Dow continued: “We are encouraged that Mr. Trump’s extensive business and hospitality background — not to mention that travel accounts for 10 percent of all U.S. exports and creates jobs in every single congressional district — will make him a ready and receptive ear for our agenda. Mr. Trump has explicitly highlighted the challenges facing our nation’s airports and our aviation security system on his path to the White House. He has voiced great enthusiasm for modernizing our roads, rails and airports with his promise to invest $500 billion in infrastructure reform.”

So it’s not all bad then. The fall of the Dollar could simultaneously make America a more appealing destination for international tourists, despite the incoming president. There could also be a staycation boom as Americans choose to holiday domestically. And if Trump veers away from his more right-wing campaign messages on immigration and instead concentrates on boosting the country’s infrastructure, tourism could win the day in the long run.

How Travel Startups can Compete with Established Marketplaces

It seems like since the dawn of the internet age, a handful of e-Commerce giants have had the travel industry in a chokehold. Expedia, TravelSupermarket,, Trip Advisor… you know the ones. All are internet monsters willing and able to spend millions on marketing and advertising while offering rates that ruthlessly undercut any fresh travel startups in the industry. It goes without saying that this is a frightening, intimidating environment in which to set up a travel marketplace.

how to compete with travel industry marketplaces

Standing out among travel industry heavyweights is tough, but not impossible.

Unfortunately, that’s just the way things are. If you want to get a piece of the pie, you’re going to have to struggle against the dominance of the established players. The world of online search is already heavily slanted in favour of the incumbent giants. So what can you do to start punching above your weight? And where do you even begin to start grabbing a share of a market dominated by the incumbents?

Today we’re going to be taking you through five strategies that you can apply to your travel marketplace to help push you in the right direction. Some are commonly employed by new marketplace startups, and others you might not have heard before.

Travel Startups Need to Lower That Commission

A major part of setting up a competitive travel marketplace is attracting sellers. The more sellers you have, the more buyers you can bring in and the more sales you will make. If you’re just starting out, a low take rate is a smart way to grease the wheels of e-commerce. Unencumbered by hefty commission, sellers will be more inclined to offer great deals to your site’s visitors. Sales. Success. Perpetuate. Win. Repeat.

However, as a long-term strategy though, this can be dangerous. Too low a take rate and you risk struggling to break even and not making enough to develop your marketplace for the better. But as an opening strategy, it’s not a bad idea at all. Low commission will be key to attracting operators to set up in your marketplace, helping you get off the ground in no time at all.

Certinaly don’t go the other way and think that charging sellers high fees will get you off to a good start. There are two reasons why high take rates are generally seen as a bad idea:

First, and most obvious of all, high commission imposes too much of a tax on operating within your marketplace. It’ll put off potential partners and eventually ruin any level of diversity in the travel products you are offering. Second, let’s say you become more established and raise your commission rates too high. The second you do so, you open up opportunities for competitors keen to offer your sellers their services, but for less.

Gaining traction is easiest to do with a low take rate, as established competitors will struggle to come down to your level. But in the long term, the position of top dog will require more than an appealing rate of commission to differentiate yourself from the market leaders. Invest in your marketplace, your sellers, and their products.

Focus, focus, focus

Just as we have done with Travelshift software and our first marketplace in Iceland, it’s a good idea to setup your travel marketplace with a niche in mind. Why not focus on creating the best product for a specific vertical? It could be corporate travel, honeymoons, food tours, staycations, adventure activities – you name it, there’s a whole bunch of niches you could target. In fact, why don’t you check out our ‘Gap in the Market’ series for some more inspiration? Plenty of marketplaces have had huge success starting small and focusing on an area where they can claim to have expertise and exclusivity. Once you’re established and a big player in your chosen field, it’s time to expand.

Blow the Established Players Away

We know: This is much easier said than done. After all, the established market leaders in your chosen niche are there for a reason. They must be doing something right. But that certainly doesn’t mean that they’re doing everything right. If you can successfully put together a product(s) that’s more appealing, for whatever reason, you’re onto a winner.

Want some evidence that this is even possible? Take a look at Uber’s sudden emergence in the taxi industry, or AirBnB’s revolutionary mark on international accommodation.

If the thought of taking your niche by storm sounds too idealistic and unrealistic, remember that transformation isn’t even necessary to make you stand out from the competition. Simply filling your marketplace with exclusive tours and better products is a great way to get noticed for the right reasons.

Build a Marketplace That Works For You

So what exactly does that mean? Well, when you think about it, the actual marketplace is seen by many travel startups as simply a conduit. It’s the platform through which your sales are received and your sellers’ products are advertised. Not a minor part, obviously, buy a vehicle, a means to an end. What you need to do is go one step further. You need to build a marketplace that works for you.

You can do this by ensuring that the entire thing is fully SEO-optimized, that a community of locals and travellers drive constant traffic through your site, and that you build something that brings added value to you, your buyers and your sellers.

Many of the established marketplaces in the travel industry generate sales and traffic purely through size, through dominating search engine results. We’ve built a software package that helps you shout just as loud with nowhere near as much intensive effort required. That’s what we do, by the way. You can check out our software offering and get in touch if it sounds like something you’d be interested in.

Build and Maintain Relationships

Again, this is another tip that’s easier said than done. The travel industry is hardly famed for high levels of customer loyalty. But that doesn’t mean that people won’t regularly visit your marketplace if the content is good enough or return if they have a positive experience with you.

Clearly the first steps are to create great products, build as smooth a purchasing process as possible, and continue to offer great customer service right the way through booking to departure to return.

But subsidiary actions can be just as influential in the long run. Social media engagement and building a thriving, engaged community should also be top of your list of priorities.

Keep the relationship going with your customers long after they return from their trip. Offer them bespoke deals, get their feedback on the experience and learn from it, encourage them to share their experience with friends and family.

Services such as Hootsuite are great for managing and measuring social media campaigns, so make sure you take advantage of the latest in analytics and learn more about your potential customers and their desires. And when dealing with customers, build a dedicated team to handle those interactions.  One thing that you will always have over the industry giants is the ability to offer a personal, memorable (for the right reasons) customer service.

Optimise for Mobile and Adapt to Customer Trends

Let’s get this out of the way: If your travel marketplace doesn’t have a mobile strategy, you’re going nowhere fast. The majority of research and plenty of bookings and transactions now take place on mobile devices, so your software needs to be able to accommodate that. This is especially the case in emerging markets.

Some quick stats for you: 88 percent of people agree that having a mobile device with real-time information makes them more spontaneous with shopping. 63 percent of people are expecting to do more shopping via mobile over the next few years. So what does it all add up to? Well, if your marketplace isn’t delivering a smooth, stress-free experience via mobile, you’re going to miss out on sales.

So that’s all for this week. Hopefully there a few tips that you can take forward as you build a travel industry marketplace.