“I am going to Portugal for the World Food Tourism Summit … and can you believe it?! Two days of eating, sharing, learning & networking in a country steeped in flavours from all over the world! A country most certainly apt for hosting a summit like that. …” Beaming at whoever would listen to my #foodlover comments in the lead-up to one of the largest international gatherings of food tourism professionals, I make a point of actively sharing my enthusiasm. After all, many exciting keynote speakers have made their way to Estoril Congress Centre near the capital city of Lisbon. Besides the actual networking opportunities, I am thinking: What a great opportunity for me to catch up with my “foodie friends” from Portugal!
Portugal, it means Love & Magic on the road. Wine & Gourmet Moments from Douro Valley. Creative Travel in the Algarve. Food Tours & #Winelover trips …
… those of you who know me will have heard about Creativelena’s love for Portugal. I am a happy mystery to even the Portuguese themselves: “So you are Portuguese? No?! But how come you speak Portuguese like that … You are moving to Portugal, certo?” Being able to speak Portuguese fluently within only a few months has prompted even my dear Portuguese friends into thinking anything from a major conspiracy theory to a simple love story. For the country. For the people. For the language. And for its food. So let food once again be the topic of this interesting round-up post from the #WFTS15 World Food Tourism Summit in Portugal.!
“Food tourists are knowledgeable, participative, educated, sophisticated – and demanding. Science, I believe, will change food production. And future tourists will be a lot more demanding and expectant.”
Word by our first notable speaker at this year’s #WFTS15 World Food Tourism Summit, Dr Ian Yeoman from Victoria University in New Zealand & the European Tourism Future Institute in the Netherlands. In his summit speech, he argues that … “trends unfold in different ways and circumstances. Shaping the future are key areas such as wealth distribution, resource development & technological advances.” And food tourism, he argues, is all about the experience economy – shared experiences, where people actually stop to listen, talk and engage with each other and the destination they visit.
“Moreover, there is … a changing meaning of luxury. We are moving from materialism, to enrichment, to time as a true luxury commodity. There is a growing focus on the meaning of so-called quality of life: A quality that is experiential, personal, authentic, and shows only subtle, or covert forms of materialism.”
Exclusivity in terms of food, Ian argues, is “having access to real food experiences” such as taking a masterclass or learning at local cookery schools. Authenticity, too, plays a key role in this: “We are talking about the ‘authenti-seeking’ mindset in today’s travellers, i.e. getting away from things and going back to history, roots and identity. Food represents a country. And (food) tourism is your true experience economy value chain. So how do you remain authentic and present a food tourism product that can be guaranteed? The answer is astonishingly simple: Use local flavours. Go for the authentic food and manner. Protect yourself and your resources while constantly minding about using, and maintaining, the right approach.”
In the accumulation of social capital, food, cooking and the actual “know-how” base is a source of social recognition across the globe. Having time for DIY is a strongly romanticized luxury in today’s fast-paced performance society. (Dr Ian Yeoman, World Food Tourism Summit).
His book, “The Future of Food Tourism“, is due to appear in July 2015: I recommend myself (and you) to check it out!
Next up on stage are Nelson Carvalheiro & Jodi Ettenberg, who both run successful international food travel blogs and talk to us about the “power of story”.
Having been to many successful travel blogger & storytelling events before, such as “The Social Travel Summit” in Leipzig, the TBEX Travel Bloggers Exchange in Dublin or learning from the great skills of Lonely Planet travel writer Don George, I find myself really looking forward to hearing about what both Nelson & Jodi have to say here at the #WFTS15 World Food Tourism Summit in Portugal. “Yes”, I secretly smile to myself while actively taking notes during their speeches. Yes to “creating engagement through telling a story” (Jodi Ettenberg, of Legal Nomads Food Travel Blog). Yes to “changing people’s attitude to travel to a certain destination” (Nelson Carvalheiro, of Nelson Carvalheiro Food Travel Blog).
“The university is made up of stories, not atoms … A quote by poet Muriel Rukeyser that I very much enjoy. My advice is to work with a storyteller who takes audiences to the very places he or she is going to. Shed a spotlight on humans! People are desperately desiring the human element in a world of increasing technological invasion.” (Jodi Ettenberg, World Food Tourism Summit).
More of their practical tips & advice on storytelling & professional blogger relations are:
- Use narrative loops continuously. Work with someone who has followed the same (successful) strategy of writing over and over again. Bloggers are being followed for their personality. Leverage off that fact in seeking a cooperation that benefits both parties.
- Slice sideways and get into the heart of something: “The human mind wanders by nature: Stories bring it back!”
- About working with bloggers, ask yourself: Does your brand audience fit with theirs? Can they provide a compelling story? Is a long-term relationship possible? Are both vested in each others’ business? And are you willing, and able, to give some independence with messaging?
- Most importantly: Take the time and make sure that the people you want to work with, are also the people who have the right skills to do so.
“There is this … ‘multi-touch-attribution’ in today’s decision-making process. The more we talk about luxury (travel), the more this is true. So take a look at the long-tail-effect of storytelling through Social Media. The future will be to invest in a long-term relationship with bloggers as ambassadors who are transparent about their work ethics. More work with the right people, is what I believe in.” (Nelson Carvalheiro, World Food Tourism Summit).
Thank you both for a great summit speech!
Last but not least, let me share with you … “local stories, on a global level, with a passion that matters.”
Such is the word presented by another international keynote speaker, Kathy Dragon, of Whole Food Journeys & Whole Foods Market at this World Food Tourism Summit. Kathy and her team run an experiential travel company focused on food, cooking, health, wellness and cultural travel experiences. My eyes light up as I am reminded of the many intersections with creative travel, prompted by trends and a demand for life-long learning opportunities, cooking classes, farm-to-table experiences, or active food tours. “Consumers have developed a deeper appreciation for locally relevant and authentic experiences emphasizing on living the local life”, she argues. “Culinary Tourism is a most dynamic, creative segment of tourism. In it are the so-called ‘foodie travellers‘: People who love to join local people in local markets in order to learn about the local culture.”
Active foodies use local trails, shift from gourmet to local experiences, and are concerned about storytelling, health & wellness. They love gaining access to farmers, food artisans and producers. As an emerging trend, this form of travel leverages off adventure and active travel. The key messages to operators and producers are: Keep it authentic! Train guides. Ask yourself the following: How active is the tour? Are there any dietary restrictions? What about safety & liability?
“The trend is for opening up people’s eyes … to farmers and producers. They are the (new) stars of the show. Like here in Portugal, it could be family winemakers. And destinations are looking at food as a way to preserve the local culture.” (Kathy Dragon, World Food Tourism Summit).
In his speech at the #WFTS15 World Food Tourism Summit, Greg Richards argues that … “for a ‘food culture / food destination’ to work, it is important to engage a whole raft of different stakeholders. This is increasingly being recognized around the world.” So how do you actually create this holistic experience?
Brand promises, he argues, are clearly not enough: “The best way to improve your brand is to improve your reality. And in the case of food tourism, that is food. So the real thing that destinations need to think about is ‘place-making‘: How to make the destination itself attractive? How to use, and protect, the identity of the place? And how to keep transforming the place? The identity & sense of place are beyond the image: This is what makes up a destination in the eyes of (food) travellers.”
Furthermore, he elaborates on the following key issues for food experiences as an integrated destination marketing strategy:
- LOCAL PEOPLE: These are the people that tourists increasingly want to meet. Looking at travel websites, it is all about promoting the idea of ‘living as a local’, of going slow, of local travel gaining special access to, and providing you with, this much sought-after exclusivity while travelling.
- NETWORKS: The networks involved in tourism and food production are just so important. Think about all levels in the food chain, addressing seasonality, and supporting the basic infrastructure that goes into the food production chain. Once these systems are in place, then it is time to think about branding and partnerships.
- FOOD AND SENSE OF PLACE: For visitors to get in touch with the local culture, this is a direct form of confrontation with local culture. What we eat has an influence on us, and on our attitude towards the people we are eating with. You need to have support for food production and these kind of experiences, if you are going to market effectively.
- CREATION OF A SENSORY LANDSCAPE: It is all about how places feel, smell, look. Gradually, cities are beginning to recognize how this works. Markets can become the most lively space! Events add value about being in a particular place in a particular time, i.e. the World Food Festival in Rotterdam.
- CHALLENGES: Tourism is so much more than just place-marketing. Food has to embrace experiences. Linking hardware, software, and orgware leads to what we call, holistic ways of thinking.