Food over the course of the last decade or so has become a tourist attraction in and of itself. With culinary tourism wielding such a powerful influence on the travel decisions made by consumers now, it is imperative for hoteliers to discover ways to effectively leverage this far-reaching trend. In the past, this was often accomplished by offering hotel restaurant discounts for example. However, today’s culinary tourist is seeking authentic cultural experiences through the food and drink of the destinations they choose to travel. Hoteliers are, due to the nature of hospitality, well positioned to gain from the food traveler by meeting them at their point of need.
Local Is Key
Seeking local food experiences, which are authentic to the destination, is the key motivator of the culinary tourist and the driving force behind this trend. Hoteliers should understand that when they are promoting themselves they should also be promoting the destination and their hotel’s place in it, which encompasses local cuisine. Hotels can directly leverage culinary tourism locally, both on and off hotel property.
The most direct method for a hotel is to transform the on-property restaurant into an authentic local dining experience. Any hotel with a restaurant can offer good food, but foodies expect much more. Begin with fresh quality, locally sourced food products. The chef and staff must also be creative in their menu choices and keep up with current developments. Once established, cooking classes and demonstrations of the preparation of local dishes build further loyalty to the hotel with food traveling guests. Eventually, the hotel can possibly become a food destination for locals and folks just passing through town.
Off hotel property are many opportunities for hoteliers to connect in meaningful ways with the culinary tourist as well. A hotel can partner with local area establishments and offer the hotel’s guests culinary tours, tasting events, and hands-on off-property cooking classes. These partnerships can be beneficial and highly profitable for all involved, while also building the strength of the destination’s brand. The culinary tourist, creating another marketing opportunity for hotels nearby, is increasingly favoring food festivals. Here is where discounts and hotel giveaways, such as free tickets to the festival, can prove highly effective.
A theme throughout any hotel marketing campaign built around food tourism should be to consistently reach out to younger audiences, especially Millennials. This generation takes to social media immediately regarding the things they love and are passionate about. Culinary delights are highly visual and are a natural fit for platforms such as Instagram. This phenomenon creates free publicity and builds conversations, leading to further engagement with the brand and destination.
Due to the very nature of the hospitality industry, culinary tourism can easily prove to be a valuable asset for hoteliers who take full advantage of their locale and its unique cuisine.