Today’s group travelers want more than touring the typical sightseeing stops. They want to immerse themselves into the culture of the people living in the destination they are visiting. What better way to experience a culture than learning about and tasting regional cuisine? Grow your travel business by cooking up irresistible culinary itineraries to tempt tour groups.
Step 1: Assemble your ingredients.
Not sure where to start? Grab a stack of index cards and list every food-related business in your targeted destination that could accommodate a group. Then, Google each of these categories:
- Breweries, wineries, distilleries, tasting rooms
- Bakeries, confectioneries, candy shops
- Cheese and specialty food boutiques
- Ethnic eateries and shops
- Food manufacturing or factory tours
- Dinner theaters and cruises
- Farms, farmers markets, U-picks, food festivals
- Boutiques for culinary gear and kitchen gadgets
- Cooking schools and classes
Step 2: Go shopping
Review all your food-related contact cards. Give priority status to businesses with:
- Well-known chefs or owners
- A regional angle
- A historical angle
- Anything “award-winning”
- A unique product
- A great story
Starting with your priority cards, connect with these businesses. If possible, visit in person to taste their offerings and take notes and photos. Meet with the owners and senior staff. Talk about your intention of raising the profile of your culinary group tour offerings and listen to what they say. Note who is passionate about their product and eager to participate.
Step 3: Start cooking
After your research, sort the cards based on your interest and remove those that didn’t impress you. The ones that remain are your best ingredients for a culinary itinerary. Lay these cards out on a table.
Stir the cards, looking for:
- Logical categories or themes, such as wine and cheese, or surf and turf
- Links to group travel trends like girlfriend getaways, or adventure travel
- Links to popular trends, styles, entertainment like farm-to-table, or family-style
- Combinations that celebrate your travel destination’s history or regional specialties
- Connections to established tour destinations and festivals
Once you’ve identified some tasty groupings, prepare your itinerary. For inspiration, check out samples from Group Tour Media’s Group Tour Food & Drink planning guide. When you have worked up some draft itineraries, ask the local receptive operators to taste your work. They will have insights into the special needs of tour groups.
Step 4: Serve
Promote, promote, promote! Post your delicious fare online and on social media. Publicize what you have cooking for groups. Make sure to use evocative language to fire up the traveler’s imagination. Sell the sizzle. Stress unique and special culinary experiences.
Follow these steps and in no time, you will be a master at planning delightful culinary group tours.