The tourism industry is broad and varied, with many tourism businesses promising wandering travelers a little slice of paradise on their trip. When developing your tourism-based business, it’s important to conduct market research so you have a comprehensive understanding of the industry, your customers, your competition and your growth strategy.

Conducting Tourism Research to Understand the Industry

The local tourism industry provides many opportunities for small businesses, such as travel guides, hotels and hostels, restaurants and tour operators. The significance of tourism on local businesses depends on many factors including how well the business can market itself to its target audience.

The economic benefits of tourism to a country affect many areas of enterprise even if they are not directly in the tourism industry. For example, if your small business sells outerwear and you’re located in a cold climate, you may find that tourists make up a significant portion of your customers simply because they don’t have the proper clothes for their trip when they arrive. Many people who live in warm climates don’t own winter parkas, for example.

Conduct research to understand the market around you and how it is affected by tourism. Whether you operate directly in the tourism sector, such as by running a bed and breakfast, or indirectly by offering goods and services in which tourists may be interested, it’s beneficial to understand how your business is affected by tourism. By conducting tourism research, you may be able to identify a new segment of your audience.

Knowing Your Customer

Establish who your customer is with your tourism research. Focus on the kind of travelers to whom you’re selling. Are they young backpackers, middle-aged cruise aficionados or adventure seekers? Determine your market size and location. Is your business selling locally in person or globally over the internet?

Conduct research to understand the demographics of your tourism customers, such as their age, gender, location and income. Find out what triggers them to buy from your business. Define what it is you offer that resonates with your audience. Are you offering them a product that helps them relax more easily on vacation, or are you providing them with a service that saves them time on their trip? Highlight the benefits of your business clearly so they are easy to identify.

Learning About Your Competition

Market research helps businesses to understand who else offers products or services that are similar to them. If you’re new to the industry, find out where the market is saturated and where there are gaps in offerings. You may want to build your business around an area where there is a demand but little competition.

Through tourism research, you can learn what strengths and weaknesses your competitors have and how they are marketing themselves to their customers. Study competitors who have a large share of the tourism marketplace and learn from their strategies.

If your business offers customers a passport carrying case, for example, you may have some stiff competition. Consider ways you can stand out from the crowd by appealing to a specific segment of the market. You can offer a passport carrying case that doubles as a wallet, or perhaps you can use all recycled materials.

Developing a Growth Strategy

Through effective market tourism research, your business can develop a growth plan and implement it to achieve your goals. You can conduct tourism research to try out new products and services on a small scale before launching them to your audience. This may help you to fine tune the details, improve your offerings and provide customers with something no one else does.

For example, if your tourism business provides guided foodie tours of your local neighborhood, you can develop specific themed tours based on research of your target market. Find out if they want to see vegan restaurants, for example. Run a few smaller tours to make sure your customers are happy with the places you’re taking them, and then launch the service on a wider scale.