In trends

The New Mind | tellUs team has recently returned from an interesting couple of days at the TMI Hot Topic event at Sheffield Hallam University.  In keeping with the rural tourism theme, particularly local food and drink, this month's blog focuses on how DMOs can exploit their food offering, with the help of a couple of inspirational case studies from TMI's workshop programme and some great examples from our own customers.

For many of our DMOs, food and drink is already a key element of their offering. However, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) recently surveyed 77 DMOs, educational establishments, hotels and consultants in 29 countries in Europe and America. The results are surprising, confirming that only 10% of the tourism boards and travel companies surveyed think that their food and drink offerings are adequately promoted in their destinations. Only 46.5% of those surveyed confirmed that although they had implemented various food and drink related initiatives, they didn't actually have a dedicated food tourism strategy in place.

UNWTO's 3rd World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism in San Sebastian in Spain last month concluded that there is still work to be done:

  • Gastronomy is a key resource in the proposal of value and differentiation of destinations and gastronomy tourism has become a market segment in itself.  But there is a pending challenge in terms of promotion and in the implementation of strategies and action plans that maximize the results.
  • The commitment to sustainability also implies responsibility for the production and consumption of food and should be a shared objective throughout the gastronomy tourism value chain. This means that public, private, producer, business, professional and travel institutions should support the consumption of sustainable food and create links with local producers.
  • Gastronomy tourism broadens the view through the exercise performed by chefs and restaurants as loudspeakers to project gastronomic wealth, incorporating the triangle between cuisine, product and territory. Thus, the inclusion of agricultural and livestock producers, cheese makers, markets, wineries, craftsmen, interpreters of the territory and all those who construct the identity of the place enrich the value of the destination.

The above findings and recommendations were perfectly demonstrated at the TMI Hot Topic by a series of fascinating case studies showing how destinations can exploit their food and drink related assets to differentiate their offering and drive in visitors:

Tom Naylor-Leyland, Malton Food Lovers Festival Director, described how Malton in Yorkshire had reinvented itself as Yorkshire's Food Capital.  Tom told TMI's delegates about his vision 'to take the destination's incredible local produce (game, shellfish, rare breed meat, cheese, beer, baking) and celebrate it in Yorkshire.  A dedicated website invites visitors to take a foodie mini-break and go on a tour of the 'Made in Malton' producers, browse traditional food shops, learn to cook the best of Yorkshire at Malton Cookery School or check out Street Food Sunday, monthly food markets and the Food Lovers Festival.

Another case study from Katie Read, Business Development Manager of the Lakes Distillery in Cumbria inspired TMI's delegates with the story of how a dream came true when one of the most unique visitor experiences in the Lake District was created. Following a £9m investment over three years, a Victorian cattle farm was turned into a world class production facility and opened in 2014 with the vision of 'producing world class spirits which will be global brands recognised and respected around the world'.  The Lakes Distillery offers visitors guided tours, tastings of its own Whiskey, Gin and Vodka, the Bistro where diners can enjoy local produce, a packed events programme and options to hire the venue for corporate events and private celebrations.

A number of New Mind | tellUs DMOs are currently running their own successful food and drink themed campaigns.  Here's a few examples:

New Mind | tellUs destination, the English Riviera is currently running the England's Seafood Coast campaign, which aims to establish the area as an international seafood destination.  England's highest value seafood catch is landed at Brixham on the English Riviera but less than 10% of it is eaten locally.  Inspired by renowned chef, Mitch Tonks, this Discover England Fund project is a celebration of local seafood, with Brixham Fish Market at its heart.

Meanwhile, another New Mind | tellUs customer, Visit Somerset has launched phase 2 of its Buy Somerset campaign to put the County's produce on the map following the success of a pilot scheme launched last year.  The campaign is supported by Tesco and offers customers substantial discounts on a range of local products including Bath Ales, Brothers Cider, Miles Tea and Coffee and Cave Aged Cheddar.  A series of in-store tastings and local supplier trips to Tesco have also been organised as part of the initiative.

Visit Outer Hebrides' Eat Drink Hebrides campaign promotes a self-guided journey through the islands, pointing visitors to the best places to eat, see produce being made, buy or even forage for it.  Whether visitors want to search for seafood freshly caught in the clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean, experience a taste of life on the croft with locally produced foods or look for something a bit stronger with a spirited visit to a whisky distillery, the trail has something to offer everyone.

The team at New Mind | tellUs has extensive experience of helping our customers to launch a whole range of successful food and drink campaigns, including themed pages, channel sites and dedicated food and drink websites.  Contact your Account Manager to discuss your ideas.

Further details on the UNWTO survey mentioned at the start of the article, including some interesting stats, can be found on the Skift website.  To view a full list of the conclusions of the UNWTO 3rd World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism, click here.

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