An online niche-market tour identification system for the travel and tourism industry

C. H. Wu, G. T.S. Ho, C. H.Y. Lam, W. H. Ip, King Lun Tommy Choy, Y. K. Tse

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present a novel approach for niche-market tour identification, with the objective to obtain a better segmentation of target tourists and support the design of tourism products. A proposed system, namely the Niche Tourism Identification System (NTIS) was implemented based on the proposed scheme and its functionality was showcased in a case study undertaken with a local travel agency. Design/methodology/approach – The proposed system implements automated customer market segmentation, based on similar characteristics that can be collected from potential customers. After that, special-interest tourism-based market strategies and products can be designed for the potential customers. The market segmentation is conducted using a GA-based k-means clustering engine (GACE), while the parameter setting is controlled by the travel agents. Findings – The proposed NTIS was deployed in a real-world case study which helps a local travel agency to determine the various types of niche tourism found in the existing market in Hong Kong. Its output was reviewed by experience tour planners. It was found that with the niche characteristics can be successfully revealed by summarizing the possible factors within the potential clusters in the existing database. The system performed consistently compared to human planners. Originality/value – To the best of the authors’ knowledge, although some alternative methods for segmenting travel markets have been proposed, few have provided any effective approaches for identifying existing niche markets to support online inquiry. Also, GACE has been proposed to compensate for the limitations that challenge k-means clustering in binding to a local optimum and for its weakness in dealing with multi-dimensional space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-185
Number of pages19
JournalInternet Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


  • Customer characteristics
  • Customer requirements
  • Database marketing
  • Information processing
  • Market segmentation
  • Niche tourism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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