In our last post, we shared how you can identify your target market using existing data. But, there are instances in which existing data isn’t available. When you open a new property or pivot from your original target market, you don’t have the luxury of hopping online to grab some data from your internal sources, like Google Analytics or Facebook Ads, because the data doesn’t exist yet. You may not have your own resources, but fear not. There are plenty of online resources that will help you to choose a particular market and go after it.
Where to Start
So you have no existing data. That’s actually okay, because there is so much available information on the internet. However, before you google “how to choose a target market”, we suggest you sit down and ask yourself a few questions.
- What type of guests do I want?
When you first start out, you have the opportunity to choose the type of clientele you attract. The choices you make early on will set the stage for the types of customers you attract from here on out. Did you build a party hostel or a cozy bed and breakfast? You likely have a few preferences when it comes to who you want to come to your property. Families are great for a cozy B&B, but not-so-great for an urban party hostel.
Make a list of guest types you would like to see. Backpackers, families, business travelers, and seniors are four types of typical guests Room Ranger mentioned in their post. There are many more types of guests, and you should list out as many as you can think of.
There are many ways you can categorize potential guests. You can start with age, income level, interests, and other basic demographic information to build a foundation. Your branding, amenities, room rates, and overall quality will ultimately determine who visits your property. You need to find the middle-ground where people are interested in you and you’re interested in them.
- Who does your area attract?
Your location, from the country, to state/providence, to neighborhood, to street can determine the type of guests your property attracts. For example, consider two beachfront properties in South Beach, Florida. One might be located on a private beach, while the other is next to all the nightclubs and bars. Knowing these facts helps determine the types of people who are attracted to one property over another. You should understand and know your surroundings better than anyone. Take a look at businesses nearby and do some research.
Use research from your local tourism office to determine general travel trends for your area. You should also use their information about events, restaurants, and attractions. Determine what market they’re catering to, and make preparations to cater to those people. If you’re located in the United States, we created a list of all the local tourism authorities by state here.
Here’s an exercise that can help you explore your surroundings. Find a map and draw a mile radius around your property and pinpoint all the surrounding businesses. Determine what they offer and if they serve the same market you do or want to. You could even go talk to the businesses’ owners or managers to learn their customers’ behaviors. This may not work for every type of property, but it’s a good place to start.
- Who do my competitors attract?
If you’re entering a new market or you’re looking to pivot, look at your competitors and determine their target market. If you look at their brand’s language and tone, you’ll probably be able to gauge who their target market is. If a property features young hipster-type people and puts an emphasis on public spaces, it probably skews young. On the other hand, if a property puts an emphasis on comfort, privacy, and luxury, the property may skew older.
Look at your competitors’ Tripadvisor reviews and find out what their previous guests are saying. Many Tripadvisor reviews even tell you about the nature of their stay, i.e. friend trip, family, business, pleasure etc. Their reviews will give you more information about what brings people to your location.
Where to Look for Data
Once you generally understand the target market you want to go after, there are a few places you can look for data.
As we mentioned above, local travel agencies are a great place to start. They offer localized data and trends that we’ll likely be more helpful than macro travel trends.
Google keyword planner can help you identify people’s interests. To access the keyword planner, you will need to sign up for AdWords. When you sign up for AdWords, Google will auto-populate some keywords they think will work for you based on your website. You type in other keywords and find related topics that might get people onto your site.
For example, if you type in “San Diego”, it will suggest words like “beach”, “outdoors”, “hike”, “San Diego restaurants”, etc. You can use these keywords to gauge peoples’ interests and target them appropriately.
Here’s another trick: You can use AdWords’ Google Keyword Planner to discover the keywords Google associates with other websites. Find and copy the URL of a competitor’s website. In Google Keyword Planner, choose “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category”, and in the “Your landing page” field, paste in your competitor’s website URL.
After you click “get ideas”, Google will divide results into two groups: “Ad group ideas” and “Keyword ideas”. “Adgroup ideas” are simply keywords organized by topic. Use this tab to quickly see a list of main topics Google associates with your competitor. “Keyword ideas” are individual keywords that this website ranks for. Use this tab to see the exact words or phrases guests use to discover properties like your competitor.
For example, I ran this inspection on The Garden Court Hotel in Palo Alto. Results were typical: “hotels in palo alto”, “palo alto hotels”. But we also find brand-specific queries such as “boutique hotels in palo alto” and “luxury hotels in palo alto”. This property is a high-end luxury hotel, and it looks like they’re attracting exactly the demographic they want. Using this trick, you can discover who your competitors attract, and brand your own property accordingly.
Determining your target market is no easy task. When you’re just starting out or redefining what you offer, it can be even more challenging. However, there are plenty of places to look to get your footing.
Once, you create the foundation for your property, you can closely monitor how the market responds. If your target market responds well, you know you’ll have matched their expectations. But, if they don’t respond well, you can find where you missed the mark and add it to your research. Once, you get started, be sure to revisit our previous post on identifying your target market.