Over the past decade travelling has changed tremendously. The modern traveler of the 21st century spends a huge amount of money for authentic and extraordinary experiences. Tourists love to connect with local customs and traditions and are curious to explore the numerous cuisines of the world. Culinary tourism is one of the most trending topics within the tourism industry and has gained an enormous potential in recent years.
What is culinary tourism?
Culinary tourism is also known as gastronomic tourism, food tourism or tasting tourism. It refers to trips where the experience of local food and beverages is one of the main motivators for the vacation. A growing number of tourists value the tasting of local products as an important activity during their holidays. Some even incorporate wine, beer and food festivals into their vacation plans. This trend has been reinforced through the increasing emergence of food channels, food documentaries, culinary TV shows and travel shows that feature local cuisine.
Rebecca Leheup, OCTA Executive Director states: "Many festivals and events worldwide are demand generators for tourists, whether they are food-driven festivals or festivals that happen to have great food programs within a broader subject." The fact that a growing number of travellers want to incorporate wining, dining and sampling food into their journeys offers numerous opportunities for hotels worldwide.
How to use food tourism to differentiate your hotel?
As the industry becomes more and more competitive, it is useful to create unique experiences. According to studies, food and beverage can significantly drive revenue, especially for independent hotels. One way to take advantage of this trending topic is to offer local culinary experiences in your restaurant. “A free breakfast just doesn’t do it. You must think like a foodie and their entire experience from arrival to departure. A lot of hotels are great on the accommodation side, but miss the dining potential. Even hotels considered a to be a good lunch stop between point A and point B have the opportunity to make it a GREAT lunch, and therefore, an outstanding experience”, explains Erik Wolf, Executive Director of World Food Travel Association.
Travelers nowadays expect quality food, frozen products are not acceptable anymore. Healthy dishes containing local products are always appreciated. Keep up with the latest food and beverage trends and adjust your menus. To differentiate from other hotel restaurants, your chef and bartenders need to be creative. The creation of themed weekends where your restaurant is offering local food menus or a teaching and demonstration kitchen where guests can prepare and learn to cook local dishes can help you in attracting tourists.
The importance of connecting the Millenials to local culinary experiences
Although the interest in food tourism in not exclusive to a particular age, culinary tourism is an ever-growing trend for the Millennials. F&B has always been an important selling point when it comes to millennial travelers. These modern tourists share their travels and culinary experiences with their friends by posting it on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Flickr. Offering unique F&B experiences will give you social media exposure for free. Free Wi-Fi and high-speed internet in your amenities will ease the upload of pictures and experiences. Some hotels also offer social activities in their bars and lounges such as wine or tea tastings or happy hours to involve the millennial travelers.
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