One-sized travel sites… don’t fit all

There are stacks of travel websites out there trying to be all things to all holidaymakers. None in my opinion do a very good job. Let's face it, it's difficult indeed to cover all the different sections of the market - families, honeymooners, backpackers, singles, adventure seekers, beach bums. I pity the poor punter trying to research their holiday on-line at the moment.

What surprises me is that we're not seeing more decent niche travel sites popping up. I think it's illustrative of how travel content on-line is still in its infancy. Few people are really investing in it and really thinking about who their audience might be. At the moment it's just about chucking a load of content up on a site - usually of very mediocre quality - and hoping enough traffic is generated to garner some ad revenue. Or alternatively setting up a big booking engine that pulls in product from all over the place (a la Expedia or Travelocity) and sticking a few bits of content around it just to make the site look nice.

Surely if you get the content right for a specific audience, you should be quite successful at selling product and gaining ad revenue?

I did find one example of a new site trying to mine customer niches recently. I got sent a press release about a new site called Holiday Goddess which is authored by '30 of the world's leading female writers'... 'Female friendly travel' is the strap line so it's presumably aimed at savvy lassies who know what they like and don't mind spending a little to have it.

But how depressing the site is. It's badly designed and looks awful. Clearly an attempt by people who know a thing or two about print but very little at all about the web and are working on a shoestring budget. Shame, they have the germ of a great idea.

I tried a Google search for 'Family Travel' - the first obvious customer niche that came to mind. The only UK website I found was called Family Travel. Again it promised something, but didn't really deliver. It's edited by Kate Calvert and Charlotte Hindle who both know their stuff when it comes to writing about travel for families, but the site looks old and very basic. On further investigation I realised that most of the proper content is only available to subscribers. So maybe it's working for them... somehow I doubt it though. The site looks so Web 1.0 it must turn potential customers off long before they subscribe.

The only example I could think of that for me comes close is Responsible Travel. This is certainly an example of a site that really taps a niche and does it very successfully. There's UGC here with forums and reviews, but again very little professional content to provide additional depth and insight. I wonder if they will ever see it worth the investment to add some?

I think there's real opportunity out there for someone to set up a site that really delivers useful information - with great holidays attached - fora specific customer niche.

Anyone found any genuinely great examples of niche travel sites?

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