Many factors can make up a tour — the price, good weather and nice travel companions. Also important are such features as scenic beauty, historic spots of interest, friendly locals, good guides and perhaps excellent shopping opportunities.
But one factor that can heavily influence the success of a tour is the food — deliciousness that can linger on in our memory long after the trip is over. So, how can we provide an excellent culinary experience for all concerned but still keep the trip price within reason? There are various methods we might consider when we plan our tours from the outset.
The first method is to use deluxe hotel properties with their own in-house restaurants throughout the trip, ensuring tour members enjoy a top-notch dining experience at virtually every meal. This method will also assume a tour price tag, which may be way beyond that of all but the most deluxe travelers. Nevertheless, there are companies that can operate this kind of tour for small, deluxe groups who value this upscale dining experience.
Another method is to highlight a particular dining experience here and there as the trip moves along but not necessarily stay overnight in deluxe hotel properties. Such on-tour dining experiences booked in advance could be at notable restaurants along the route you’ve planned. Or, you might rearrange your itinerary to include a specific restaurant in a locale that requires your adjusting the itinerary from the outset.
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A third approach is to provide selected meals here and there as the tour rolls along but not necessarily at notable restaurants. One might try to stage a festive picnic here and there with specialties of the area. A number of operators nowadays are offering wine tastings with local vineyards in conjunction with such dining experiences.
A fourth approach could be incorporating cooking classes or tastings at various specialty stops. For example, I’ve successfully taken groups to chocolate candy-making classes in Belgium. Many tour members come home more proud of the learning experience when it comes to foods than just the tasting experience. A fifth approach is to include visits to the public markets in many cities on market day. Just learning the different foods, tastes, methods of preparation and agricultural realities can make for interesting and memorable content in a tour.
A fifth approach is to include visits to the public markets in many cities on market day. Just learning the different foods, tastes, methods of preparation and agricultural realities can make for interesting and memorable content in a tour.
If you want to make food the principal raison d’etre in your travel program, you need to spend some time and energy investigating the many possibilities that might be incorporated into your trip offerings. You need to start visiting the restaurants, county fairs, markets and other food-centered locales. You’ll want to note the particular products in which they specialize, the seasons when they welcome visiting groups and similarly, the seasons when they may be too busy to pay attention to the visitors you plan to bring on your tours.
All-in-all, food can be a new direction, a new tour segment and a new curiosity you can introduce to your clientele who may be looking for something new in a trip. Something different in a trip and something delicious. Try it. Your tour members may wonder why you waited so long.
By Marty Sarbey de Souto, CTC