Stating a Pitch & Finding Your Unique Selling Point
Let’s preface by stating the obvious: I do not know what you will be trying to sell to travellers. It could be an accommodation, a tour, the latest tourism app, a guidebook, etc… But in a weird way, I feel that this gives me the freedom to give you all the tips that I’ve always given sporadically or wanted to share but kept to myself during all my years in the New Zealand tourism industry for fear of stepping on toes. As you may also know by my reputation, I am also not necessarily an “insider” in the industry but take more of a traveller’s approach to my view on the industry which, in turn, allows me to see more opportunities and challenges than somebody that has rolled so much around the industry that the sentence: “That’s how we’ve always done it,” should be in the header of their CV. With that in mind, I would start my tourism business-building guide with the obvious: what are you selling and what is your unique selling point? This instalment of our New Zealand tourism marketing guide will go over the importance of establishing a niche and setting yourself apart from competitors.
A Note About This Tourism Marketing Guide
If you are just stumbling upon this page randomly or through a search engine, good on you. But before you keep going, you should read the introduction to this series of tourism marketing guides so you get some context about the tone and the content within it.
This article follows directly from the 10 Tips to Promote Your New Zealand Travel Business.
Finding Your Unique Selling Point
Finding a unique selling point (USP) is the most important place to start when planning your tourism marketing strategy. You will have a hard time selling to travellers that you are simply the “best new skydive” or a “destination that is better than Queenstown”, because, well, they might as well go to the skydive they have already heard about or just go to Queenstown… So, write a pitch about what you are selling, take the time to search online for competitors, and make a list of them. If your pitch is too similar to what your competitors are selling, start again. You need to be different!
How can you be different? If you are opening a new hotel, for instance, remember that you are not selling a bed. There are over 187,000 hotels in the world that are selling a bed. You are selling a destination, a central location, a premium view, world-class dining, etc. The same goes for your tour. You are not selling a guy carrying your lunch along a part of the Routeburn Track. You are selling easy access and an exclusive insight into one of the most pristine national parks of New Zealand all wrapped in a premium experience.
Do this process of pitch-writing and researching your competitors again and again and again and again until you actually have a clear different selling point to all your local competitors. I know that this may sound a bit counterproductive, as you may just want to be better and beat them at their own game but that’s just the egotistically-wrong approach and here’s why…
Being different is much easier and effective than being better. You can have a sales pitch that appeals in a different way to more people than your competitors. You can set yourself apart to appeal to a niche before expanding to a larger group of travellers later, or you can go head-to-head with another business and be so similar that it may just all come down to a price war that will end up with a race to the bottom until you are both out of business.
How I Turned a Niche Travel Product into a Market Leader
How do I know that being different is better than being better? Let me take an example: mine.
When we started this online travel guide, we had one goal, to start the largest online travel guide to New Zealand. But we did not have the resources to compete with the giants that existed already, so we went the “niche” way. We created BackpackerGuide.NZ. We were different:
- We were not a travel blog
- We focussed on the budget market at the time when Tourism New Zealand was pushing everyone to go premium
- We did not try to have the best pictures or videos. We worked hard on creating extremely helpful easy-to-read content.
Why? Because we wanted to be different. Our goal was to answer people’s questions about travelling in New Zealand. If you were planning a trip to or in New Zealand, we wanted to be here for you. We did not want to be liked as personality bloggers, i.e. we did not want to inspire travellers. Other people were (and still are) doing this way better than we do. The goal for us was to be the next step from all those guys. You’ve been inspired, now what? How do you get started with a trip to New Zealand?
As a result, we grew really big, really fast. We reached 250,000 unique readers within the first 10 months of our website being live. We kept on pushing that way for many years, all the while being different. Heck, check our YouTube Channel. for another example of that train of thought. Our “vlog” videos, where we challenged ourselves to tackle 365 activities in New Zealand in 365 days, are unlike anything else. We give a ton of facts and information without the focus on making it look pretty – interestingly, something no one else was doing. Hell, we even started doing weekly live Q&A sessions, simply chatting with people who have questions about planning their trip to New Zealand.
Then we decided to expand our niche. We realised after a few years that the audience of our site was way beyond the 20-years-old-something backpackers looking to hitchhike around the country between picking jobs. We saw bookings on the website for holiday park cabins, family rooms in hotels, full white water rafting trips, two-week luxury campervan rentals and more. We were clearly reaching well beyond what our initial branding was. So we started creating more content to tailor to this market. Even on YouTube, we had more and more questions from young families planning their trip, from people on honeymoons, etc. Our readers did not care about the branding on the site, they just found a source that was providing them with answers – with useful content. Our approach of nailing a niche until it grew to something bigger had worked.
Last year, we went through a full rebranding where we changed our name from BackpackerGuide.NZ to NZ Pocket Guide, using our South Pacific Pocket Guide branding to go along with all our other travel guides. We are now the largest travel guide to New Zealand. We are the second-largest tourism-related website in New Zealand after Tourism New Zealand’s NewZealand.com. With that, we no longer see the other major global travel guides in the same market than us as competition. We outgrew them from our niche.
This lengthy story is all to say that we started by knowing what we were selling and took a niche position to grow from. I think that this is the best way to think about how to start a tourism business in New Zealand. Find your market gap, fill it and grow from there. You won’t be a market leader from year one but if you find a sustainable growth, it will be incredibly hard to stop you.
And about the exercise above of finding a unique selling point, I actually did it and still have it on a notebook. It is very much worth doing, for real. Pick up that pen and paper now!
Do You Want to be Featured on NZ Pocket Guide?
Speaking of NZ Pocket Guide, if you want your business to be featured on New Zealand’s largest and most popular travel guide, we’re just a quick email away. Just head to our contact page. Plus, if you mention this article series, we’ll shout you 20% OFF your first year ad campaign – just like that!
Continue Reading the Tourism Marketing Guides…
To keep going with this series of tourism marketing guides, check out Tourism Marketing #2: Build a Simple Website or go back and start afresh with the 10 Tips to Promote Your New Zealand Tourism Business.