With a unique blend of changing scenery, native wildlife and challenging terrain, it’s not hard to imagine why horse riding holidays beckon both local and international riders to Australia’s shores.
However, while equine travel remains on the fringes of mainstream holiday making in Australia, Archer Creative has found opportunities for equine tourism operators continue to grow when niche marketing is done well…
A Growing Market
In all honesty, it was surprising when a recent telephone call to Tourism Australia revealed they have no information on horse riding holidays. This comes despite the numbers of small horse riding businesses who make their trade escorting riders through the Snowy Mountains and beyond, and the vast array of local riding schools who take riders of all levels on trail rides daily.
In Europe, the horse riding holiday market is a lucrative one, being large enough to warrant a number of dedicated travel agencies who earn commission on the community of European horse riders who explore the world on horseback. While our numbers may not rival those in Europe, equine travel in Australia is certainly a worthwhile and growing market.
In fact, there are a number of Australian-based equine tourism operators who are leading the way in understanding and promoting this unique way of travel.
Understand Your Audience
Quite simply, these businesses are founded on the same principle – they live and breathe horse riding holidays. However, they demonstrate effective marketing is based on a deep understanding of what their customers are looking for. They truly understand their market of equine travellers and, from this, they are able to:
- Find their niche market
- Offer a point of difference
- Create a satisfying customer experience
Find Your Niche Market
From international experienced horse riders, to equestrians who have a thirst for travel, to locals looking for horse riding destinations with their own horses, identifying their niche market has been central to their establishment and continued growth.
As Mandy Caust, the founder behind Have Horse…Will Travel, the online travel directory dedicated to ‘bring your own horse’ travel, says, “[We] grew from the realisation that information for people wanting to holiday with their horses was very fragmented and [it] took many hours of research to find some of the most amazing BYO horse riding opportunities.”
This process of refining their focus, of identifying their ideal customer within a very specific market, is, ultimately, how each equine tourism operator has set themselves apart.
Offer a Point of Difference
In what is indeed a highly competitive market internationally, creating a solid point of difference – either in the location, the type of horse or the type of experience on offer – is critical to sustaining business, both short-term and long-term.
For Kathy Holtrust, who moved to Australia in 2000 to start Southern Cross Horse Treks, her tours only cater to experienced riders. Such a specific client focus is based on some wise advice: “Instead of doing a little bit of everything, specialise in a small niche market and put all of your marketing efforts in that, so you become known as the specialist; the place to go for that specific market.”
Eighty percent of Kathy’s clients are currently European and North American tourists who are looking for an Australian riding destination that combines quality Arabian horses, captivating scenery and modern accommodation within a multi-day trek that caters to their advanced levels of riding skills. More and more, Australian riders have also found Kathy as they too seek a riding experience that meets their interests.
As Kathy says, “My main selling point – and what I would most like to be known for – is the quality of my horses and offering a good riding experience with different paces, including long gallops. The riders in my specific target group value these key ingredients the most.”
Create a Satisfying Customer Experience
Finally, a client-focused approach is at the centre of how each of these equine tourism operators market themselves effectively both online and off.
Kate Johns, who has successfully established Australia’s premier dedicated equine tourism agency, Globetrotting, says, “It’s a policy of Globetrotting that we experience each and every ride firsthand before adding them to our portfolio. The perfect Globetrotting ride needs to tick all the boxes in terms of accommodation, regional food, informative guides, change of scenery, culture and good horses.”
Carrying the tagline ‘Love to ride. Live to travel’, Globetrotting is able to market itself effectively to both local and international clients who are looking for an intimate riding holiday that prioritises gourmet food and a memorable cultural experience. “What works best for us is word of mouth and online marketing pursuits through Facebook, Instagram and our blog. Being online, it’s very easy and seamless for us to promote our rides to Australian and international riders. I’m [also] very conscious that our copy and photography is top notch.”
As these equine tourism operators show, successfully marketing to a niche clientele is a tried and tested blend of understanding your audience, offering a strong point of difference and creating a satisfying end-to-end customer experience.
Looking for some outside support? Don’t wait for success, create it — with the experts in equine marketing, Archer Creative. To learn more about how we can help you exceed your growth goals, call us on 1300 077 126 or visit www.archercreative.net.au.