Independent Vacation Rentals: Get a Piece of This Food Tourism Pie
Food has always been a major attraction in the vacation market
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According to a new report entitled the Rise of Food Tourism there’s fast growing demand for ‘unique culinary experiences’.
Published by the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance and Skift, the report concludes that food tourism is ‘big business’. They point to the fact that in the USA alone in 2012, tourism spend on food services in the US topped $201 billion dollars! That’s the largest category of the travel spend.
Estimated 39 million food tourists in the US
An estimated 39 million US leisure travelers engage in food tourism and chose a destination based on the ‘availability of culinary activities’ while another 35 million seek out these activities once they have chosen their destination.
Nor is the food tourism phenomenon limited to the US, as the growing obsession with things culinary spreads around the world. So, if food now figures so prominently in tourists’ decisions vacation rental owners should be looking to how they can get a share of this food tourism pie.
As human beings, food and shelter are our most primitive and immediate requirements. When the two are linked in a marketing context it’s a potent recipe. We’ve all seen the power of food in marketing and advertising and now there’s a way in which you can use it to engage and even attract people to your rental property.
Focus on local dishes
I first came across this idea some time ago in a provocative piece which I can no longer find by industry blogger Matt Landau. It proposes an enterprising idea to get the juices flowing. Matt suggests that rental owners attract food tourism by focusing on a local dish, a specialty of their area, highlighting it in various ways on their websites and in the property itself.
If memory serves, his premise is that food is an essential part of a vacation and an important part of the appeal of a particular area. Where would you go for authentic Key Lime Pie but Key West, Florida? Or New England Clam Chowder? Yorkshire Pudding? You get the picture.
Now for the best bit: make a strong link between the chosen local dish and your property by posting the recipe on your website. Use pictures or even video if you can. Blog about it and leave a laminated copy of the recipe in the kitchen of your property. For many, one of the great pleasures of staying in a vacation rental rather than a hotel is that they get to choose, source and cook their own food. Also, they want to try out and enjoy local dishes.
Link your property to a special dish
This basic concept can be embellished in a variety of ways to link your property to the special dish and attract food tourism. You could direct guests to favored local suppliers. Recommend local restaurants providing the delicacy in question. Offer your own tips on preparation and ideas for serving it.
Make a point of including in your property inventory any special utensils needed to prepare the dish. The first time I stayed in a rental in Cape Cod I bought live lobster and oysters, preparing for a local seafood feast. I was a bit disappointed to discover that, in a place where people virtually live off these things in summer, there was neither a lobster pot to cook them in nor a shucking knife to open the oysters.
Those local oysters were great – even if we did spend hours trying to open them with a regular kitchen knife!