Providing a travel experience and services that appeal to a specific group of consumers can be an extremely valuable asset for any person who can effectively market to that group. Special interest travel is conceived around a specific topic or theme, such as a hobby, activity or cultural subject.

There are many areas of specialization to consider, but here are a few that have had recent attention and success:

Spas & Wellness: There are many different types of spas and wellness get-a-ways popping up around the world. With today’s fast paced, high-stress lifestyles, many people are seeking solitude and relaxation at yoga centers, holistic spas, and mediation and spiritual retreats in locations such India and Indonesia.

Accessible Travel: Travelers with disabilities require skilled travel services that provide the knowledge of the traveler’s special needs and what to look for in assessing various modes of transportation, lodging, destinations and attractions.

Connoisseur Travel: Vacations that provide extravagance, indulgence, lavishness, and up-scale-everything is the idea behind connoisseur travel. These are clients who demand the best of the best and seek such decadent adventures as private yacht excursions in the Mediterranean, cooking classes with private chefs, wine tasting tours at prestigious cellars in Italy, or luxury camping and camel trekking in Arabia. These particular clients want the absolute best and are willing to pay for it.

Green Travel:  Eco-travel and eco-tourism is the latest in “green” business ventures evolving around the world. Destination marketing companies and tour operators continue to promote hotels and attractions around the world that seek to improve, protect, and enhance the social and environmental impacts of travel. This includes bike tours, hiking vacations, lodges powered by solar or wind power. “Eco-tourism affords travelers the opportunity to directly benefit the people and places they visit by supporting conservation and protecting cultural heritage as well as economic development,” says Brian T. Mullis, president of the Sustainable Tourism Institute (www.sustainabletravelinternational.org). “Taking an eco-friendly vacation provides responsible travelers with an opportunity to do their part.” Golf: This multi-billion dollar market assists travelers with their arrangements to the top golf destinations in the U.S. and around the world. This type of service not only books the flights and hotels, but also tee times and pro lessons, provides course layouts and puts together packages specific to the client’s personal handicap. Honeymoon & Destination Weddings: As a provider of this type of service, you would be required to make very special arrangements such as photographers, religious facilities, restaurants, as well as be aware of the legal requirements in the destination of choice.  Great places to market this would service would include bridal shows, on the Web, and through unique honeymoon registries.  Mature Adult: No matter what you call them—mature, seniors, baby boomers, golden oldies, empty nesters—they love to travel. The profit potential this market offers is huge, and every agent is vying for their business. Having a thorough knowledge of the needs and characteristics of mature travelers will provide you with a strong advantage over your competitors.  Mature adults have the money and the time to travel, making this profitable, growing market a must to consider. The possibilities for Specialty Travel Services are unlimited, and each one comes complete with passionate prospects ready for the right adventure. By capitalizing on these select markets you will set yourself apart from your competitors and can create a very lucrative business.


One of the biggest dilemmas facing North Americans today is the growing need to not only care for our children, but also for our aging parents or relatives.  Statistics report that by 2030 the number of adults aged 65 or older with double to nearly 70 million. With this information as well as more knowledge of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, a new market is opening up in the area of products and services designed and targeted to senior citizens. Any businesses that can address issues in terms of health care, stress management, financial planning, problem-solving, and mental and physical health for the elderly  is a huge opportunity right now for new businesses. 

Senior Services:  Geriatric Assessment Services: If you have a background in social services, nursing, or community services, one entrepreneurial option is to provide services for assessment and evaluation, medical appointment coordination and medical/legal power of attorney. 

In Home Non-Medical Care: If you have to have compassion and love for seniors and helping people, you may want to help the 90 percent of seniors who want to stay in their homes as they age. By operating an in-home non-medical care business, you could provide the services to help seniors live they way they wish to live.

Personal Training/Fitness Coach: Many gyms are now offering classes specifically designed for the elderly, taught by instructors specially trained in this field. There are actually course offered as part of the Fitness Training course for individuals working with seniors, and leading these types of classes. 

Personal Shopper: As many elderly citizens prefer to reside in their own homes rather than to take residence in senior’s homes and communities, there is opportunity to provide personal shopping services for the homebound. If you are creative and put some thought into it, there are many services that would create a value-add to the customer. A few worth mentioning are:

·         Weekly flyer watcher – creates savings for the client

·         Standing orders – certain staple or regularly purchased products such as milk or bread are delivered every Monday and Wednesday unless otherwise notified

·         Bulk Sharing: In many cases, club pack purchases are more economical, but the customer may not have anyone to split purchases with. You could either arrange to split the bulk packs purchases with one or two of your other elderly clients or yourself. Everyone saves! 

Senior Products:  Mental/Cognitive Products: According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, there are approximately 5 million Americans who suffer from this disease, and this number is expected to rise significantly in years to come. Recent studies suggest that brain health can be improved through the use of memory type games and products. This is being tested more and more in Alzheimer’s patients with very positive results. This creates an opportunity to successfully develop and market games, products, or devices that enable a person to exercise their cognitive and mental skills. These types of products should be challenging and stimulating, as well as fun. Your target market would include senior’s homes, caregivers, and doctors as well as the individual. 

 Monitoring Products:  A huge challenge for many families, has become the need to keep track of the whereabouts of their elderly parents who are living at home. They have a tendency at times to wander, sometimes getting lost or injuring themselves. This makes a great case for repositioning existing products in the market place to accommodate the needs of the elderly. One example is that of the baby monitor. Used to monitor a sleeping child, this device could be re-marketed to help monitor an elderly or invalid parent or spouse. 

Mobility products: Items that make life easier for people with arthritis such as stylish velcroed clothing and push button water faucets and lighting fixtures are in high demand.Also consider mobility products, slip proof products for floors and stairs, items that could help to compensate for loss of strength, etc.  According to statistics, home health-care items reached $2.5 billion in sales last year, with the elderly consuming the majority portion, and the need is growing. This means big profits for the manufacturers and marketers who are able to provide a variety of solutions to the common problems of the geriatric population. 

Investigate what is already available and think about what would make life easier for the elderly, the homebound, patients with dementia symptoms, and their caregivers. 

The interview process can be stressful and nerve racking to say the least, especially if you are interviewing for a position that you really, really want. It is always important to prepare your self for interviews and practice being interviewed. This practice will make you more comfortable throughout the process. A typical interview process can consist of potentially 2-4 interviews before an offer of employment is made.  Although it is important to prepare for any potential questions an interviewer may ask, it is equally important to consider any questions that you, yourself  may want to ask. By asking questions of the interviewer, you are not only demonstrating your knowledge of the position and company, but you are also showing interest in the dynamics and future of the role. Questions you should ask in a job interview 

  1. What is your management style?
  2. What is the function/accountability of this role?
  3. What are the challenges of this role?
  4. What is the dynamic of the team?
  5. What are the plan objectives for this year for this role?
  6. What are the KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) for this role and team?
  7. Is this role considered to be strategic or tactical?
  8. What does success look like for this position?
  9. What is your process for hiring for this position?
  10. What is your time frame for making a decision?

 Have an answer prepared for the following questions: 

  1. Why do you want to work for our company?
  2. What do you know about our company?
  3. Why do you want to leave your current job?

Do not ask:

  • Anything to do with benefits, compensation, bonus, vacation, etc.

 These types of questions are better addressed once you have made it through to the final round in the interview process or when you have been made an offer of employment. It is important to note that these topics are also considered to be highly negotiable. Also, never give references until there is an offer on the table, especially if you plan to give a reference from your current employer.

We’ve all experience them….good leaders and bad, but what kind of leader are you? What makes a good leader? Everyone has an opinion, but one thing I know for sure is that we must learn something from each one of them, be it good or bad. For it is what we choose to do with each experience that creates the leader we will become.  Simply put, if you have a manager who does not provide any kind of feed back or mentoring, from this experience you should learn that a team is more responsive or productive with a leader should possesses these traits. If your leader is controlling or shows a lack of interest, you would learn that this type of style creates an environment lacking in respect and ability to promote.  So you need to then ask yourself, “Is this the type of leader do I want to be”?  If you are completely honest with yourself, I’ll bet your answer is “Not likely”. At least I hope it is. We have enough power hungry leaders out there abusing their responsibilities and roles. Here are a few things to consider when you get that chance to be “Leader That Makes a Difference”: 

  • Give more than you expect others to give
  • Combine optimism and perseverance
  • See everyone as a diamond in the rough
  • Express appreciation, accept responsibility
  • Keep you ego in check
  • Show respect for the people around you
  • Treat team members as family
  • Be a source of inspiration
  • Stress co-operation, not competition

Last, but certainly not least, always maintain a sense of humor.

 One of the biggest up and coming markets today is that of ecological sustainability. Any product or service that is environmentally friendly is going to be big in the years to come. As this market is really just getting off the ground, now is the best time to start any type of business of this kind.  Consider businesses in sustainability consulting and recycling  program development. Essentially what you’d be doing is educating and/or assisting others who are seeking to implement the necessary steps for becoming sustainable. Many businesses today require the expertise to actively manage their social and environmental impact. Case in point – IBM has recently been named in a lawsuit citing that they are guilty of toxic dumping at their Endicott, NY headquarters. So if you are into social responsibility and accountability, and we all should be, why not make a career out of something you are passionate about and benefits the entire globe.   If your are more interested in a non-technical type of business or don’t have the MBA that may be required for a consulting type venture, you may want to consider green apparel design or boutiques that offer only green products. Anything made from recycled product, anything energy efficient and saves energy, water, gas, etc., anything produced organically, or anything that provides an alternative to hazardous materials is worth marketing and selling.  There are many different opportunities to consider in the sustainable products and services market, so I encourage you to really research the many available options. Here are some of eco-friendly businesses I have recently come across: 

  •           Cleaning service using organic products
  •           Composting services
  •           Pesticide free landscaping services & yard maintenance
  •           Diaper services (these are really making a comeback)
  •           Organic foods and produce
  •           Art made from recycled products
  •           Soaps & beauty products
  •           Home efficiency auditing
  •           Solar windows installation
  •           Home insulation products and installations
  •           Home renovations using recycled products and energy efficient items

 Regardless of what type of “green” business you decide to start, you should also look into any type of government subsidy or offers that may be available in your city or country. And remember, just by working at home, you already have a jump start on being eco-friendly as you will no longer be creating vehicle emissions by driving 30 minutes into an office!

I’ve put together this list of the hottest start ups with the highest potential for success in 2008. I will discuss them all in greater detail in the coming weeks as I profile and highlight each one, so stay tuned and visit often. 

  1. Green Products and Business Services
  2. Senior Products and Services
  3. Niche Travel Services
  4. Vending Machines
  5. Personal Inventory Services
  6. Solar Installation Services
  7. Specialized Outsourcing Services
  8. Executive Recruiting
  9. Pet Product and Services
  10. Organic Cleaning Services

KMH Labs is a diagnostic health services company located in Mississauga, Ontario. Its CEO, Neena Kanwar, is listed at #19 on the Top 100 Canadian Women Entreprenuers for 2006, up from #59 in 2005. KMH posted earnings of $ 22.8 million in 2005, and Neena and husband Vijay even made a very generous donation that same year of $ 5 million to a local hospital.

Sounds like a great woman entreprenuer and role model, doesn’t she? So then what makes such an outstanding human being decide then to lay off sales staff 5 days before Christmas? I guess it was a “business decision”, based on the outlying fact that KMH depends on radioactive isotopes to conduct their diagnostic testing. Due to the reactor shutdown this month at the Chalk River facility, I am sure this hurt their business, as it did a number of other businesses that depend on nuclear isotopes. 

My issue is not the fact that KHM has laid off sales staff, who, by the way, are all long term employees and all with execellent performance records, my issue issue is with the methods by which they conducted the lay off. They had their Marketing Director call each sales rep and meet with each of them at a Tim Horton’s coffee shop in the locale of the rep. A very public meeting to deter any possible emotional scene. They were not asked to come into the office at all. They had no idea what was about to happen. I mean,  hey, your manager asks to meet you for a coffee, and it’s a few days before Christmas….what would you think? The same scenario played out for each of the reps…they were told they were being laid off, and then handed an official letter stating such. When asked how long the lay off was to last or when they were expected to be called back to work, the answer was a vague “I’m not sure” and “I really don’t know”. This discussion was then followed with instructions to hand in all laptops and other electronic buisness tools to the head office before the end of the week (which was actually the very next day), and they would be paid up to and including the end of that week. Doesn’t sound like much of a lay off to me.

By Canadian law a company can only continue a lay off for 13 weeks before they have to finalize it as a termination or resume employment. More companies these days are taking full advantage of this by laying off employees for the full extent of the alotted time and playing the odds that the employee will seek other employment immediatelty so they will not be required to pay out severance packages. This is especially true in cases where the person is a long time (and dedicated) employee with many years on tenure within the company and a good track record which would make “termination for cause”  impossible. The reality is that KMH (and other companies) play the favored odds that, like many people, their employees do not have substantial savings to wait out the lay off period and that the unemployment benefits alone will not be enough to support a family for 13 weeks. So here’s another thing – unemployment befits will only pay out on the salary portion of your regular income. These people are paid commission on top of their regular salary, which is really not much to begin with. The bulk of their income comes from commissions, much like any other sales role. Boy, are they smart!

Call me crazy, but I really don’t see that Neena and KMH have any intentions of ever bringing these sales people back to work. They have layed them off 5 days before Christmas, taken all of their business tools, and removed them from their servers before they were even notified of the lay off. Not nice Neena!! You’re not getting my vote for Top Canadian Women Entreprenuer in 2007, but you will get my vote for Most Insentive and Selfish Woman Entreprenuer…..I guess someone had to replace Leona Helmsley.