Study: Travelers Hungry for Culinary Experiences

A new study from the World Food Travel Association illustrates the importance of promoting food and drink when marketing a destination to meeting planners and attendees.

When traveling to a destination, whether for leisure or work, how important are the dining options to you?

Good places to eat and drink will never go away in terms of branding yourself as an attractive destination.

According to a new study sponsored by the World Food Travel Association, food and drink are an important part of travelers’ decision process when picking a destination, and promoting dining options can pay off when marketing destinations.

More than half of the respondents to WFTA’s survey reported they travel to learn about or enjoy unique food and drink experiences, and 61 percent said they are interested in taking a trip to engage in culinary activities within the coming year.

“For ‘deliberate’ culinary travelers, the availability of culinary activities is a primary reason for taking a trip,” Laura Mandala, managing director of Mandala Research, which conducted the study, said in a statement. “In fact, authenticity and local flavors are the greatest drivers of destination choice for these travelers.”

For convention and visitors bureaus, a healthy dining scene can add to a destination’s allure among meeting planners.

“Good places to eat and drink will never go away in terms of branding yourself as an attractive destination,” said Laura Hill, director of communications at Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA) in Charlotte, North Carolina. “It can help define your city and put your city on the map.”

Hill said Charlotte’s dining scene has recently been infused with new life since the culinary school Johnson & Wales relocated there from Charleston, South Carolina, in 2004. Charlotte’s also got a growing craft beer scene and an influx of new wineries that CRVA promotes to meeting attendees to give them a bit of local flavor, Hill said.

CRVA also works with meeting planners who are interested in offering attendees a taste of Charlotte’s local southern fare or farm-to-fork options, a trending option for sustainably minded foodies.

The Colorado Convention Center in Denver is also embracing the local food movement with an onsite farm that provides attendees with fresh and healthy dishes.

Ultimately good food and drink “helps create that overall memorable experience of a destination that we want meeting attendees to take away,” Hill said.

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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