Food tourism. It is something that has been creeping into the travel sector for a number of years. The rise in popularity of cooking exotic and new dishes has been noticeable from the sheer amount of books and television programs dedicated to showing people how. But now, reading or watching isn’t enough for some people, they want to see it, try it and cook these dishes for themselves. This is what has lead to what we are calling ‘Food Tourism’. Skift have produced a detailed report on the rise of this trend, we’re going to give you some practical tips to help you turn this popularity into bookings for your vacation rental business.
Firstly, this isn’t just a minor fad; it’s becoming a movement. We have access to more and culture and experience from other cultures that we ever did before. You can buy kiwifruit during a Norwegian winter, order Thai food in a Manchester airport. Unique experiences, that are not only new to you, but new to your group of peers are becoming harder to find, so people are travelling to them. Food tourism is about new and authentic experiences that you cannot have at home.
The 2013 “American Culinary Traveler Report,” published by Mandala Research, showed that the percentage of U.S. leisure travelers who travel to learn about and enjoy unique dining experiences grew from 40% to 51% between 2006 and 2013.
Enjoying new and exciting cuisines is not just something that people do on holiday anymore, it is becoming a reason for people to go on holiday. What we’re discussing are the ways that you can market your vacation business to capitalise on this trend. Hotels are starting to offer more than the just standard lobby restaurants for dedicated fans of food tourism.
For example, New York’s Hotel Plaza Athénée introduced services geared toward China’s rapidly growing numbers of outbound travelers including in-room tea kettles, Chinese breakfast items, and Chinese-language newspapers.
So, what can vacation rentals do?
It may just be the latest trend but if you can put your properties and your business under the focus of this attention then you could see a real rise bookings brought to you directly by food tourism. Vacation rentals are adaptable to the changing climates. You can almost present them as a blank canvas for people to project their own passions onto. This is the appeal of renting for many guests so a way to use this is to highlight the kitchens in your property. This is an area that is already popular with vacation rental guests, but there are things that you can do to make it into the factor that convinces people to book. You can appeal to the creative side of your guests by showing them where local people get the ingredients to create the local dishes themselves. Including a map or a short guide to local restaurants or markets will be indispensable information for anyone interested in food tourism.
Optional extras such as cookery courses could be combined with renting your property so your guests can organise everything at the time of booking. This could be done by combining with a local culinary school, or by having a chef come to your property to teach your guests. Hotels have some of the best restaurants in the world, but they can’t compete with the pleasure and satisfaction of making a local delicacy yourself. If you do not have a famous food culture in your area, why not take some steps to establishing one for your guests? You could create a route of the best local bars and restaurants, write blogs about special and individual places in your area and the local dishes that visitors may have never heard of.
But the report also informs us that the destination still priority over the appeal of local food. In short, people will still look for interesting local cuisine but the destination is likely to be the first thing they search for. This means that you should think about this when creating your content that is designed to appeal to ‘Food Tourists’. Your blogs and social media posts should use your city or location as a keyword and then focus on the different foods and places to eat in secondly. Create content that will bring food tourists to your site. Think of questions that people are going to put into Google. '10 best restaurants in...' ,'5 places to eat in...' If you can market the appeal of your property and the appeal of the local area at the same time you will have a much better chance of converting potential guests interested in things like food tourism.