The important thing to (ALWAYS) remember is your marketing mix. When considering ideas for incorporating more Caribbean food tourism experiences into your programming remember: what appeals to one foodie won’t to many others so create verticals: gourmet / fine dining as one, local street food as another, etc.
In America the popularity of food festivals and casual dining experiences (like gastropubs) are growing at a more rapid pace than those journeying for fine dining experiences, so it’s safe to assume that tourists from America to the Caribbean will seek much the same.
Some benefits to cultivating your foodie tourism experiences as a Caribbean destination:
- Promotion of local culture
- More repeat visits
- Higher average visitor spending
- More money stays on-island
- Unique culinary experiences = market positioning differentiation
According to a recent report by Skift, “Avid food tourists today are also compelled to explore deeper into local neighborhoods beyond the typical tourist scenes. They’ll travel farther away from their hotels for a memorable meal, and they’re more interested and willing to ask probing questions about the process behind the meal’s production. The more unique the culinary experience is, the more unique the travel and destination experience is.”
So – how do YOU tap into this travel trend?
If you’re a Caribbean TOURISM AUTHORITY or ASSOCIATION
- Make culinary focused tourism marketing a priority! (Ex: A press trip that included cooking classes as a possible honeymoon activity)
- Encourage Culinary Ambassadors (like Nina Compton of St. Lucia) to go out there in the world and promote your cuisine.
- Create foodie-focused itineraries that you can promote as part of a content marketing plan.
- Create and promote locally focused food festivals such as Turks & Caicos Conch Festival or Tobago’s Blue Food Festival.
If you’re a RESORT or HOTEL:
- Add local dishes to your menus and notate them as such
- Bring locally-inspired food outlets on property
- Ex: Our very own ‘toes in the sand’ restaurant concept project that became the highest revenue-generating outlet at a luxury Caribbean resort property!
- Create ‘chef-tainment’ experiences
- Ex: Open kitchen concepts and in-suite catering / dining like Royal Reservation’s Chef-in-Suite
- Grow your own organics
- Hermitage Bay grows its own organic vegetables via their kitchen garden
- Partner with local growers
- Ex: Capella Marigot Bay’s ‘Farm to Fork’ initiatives
- Offer local food tours
- San Juan Marriot Resort in Puerto Rico organizes and offers guests the Flavors of San Juan tour
- Offer a ‘Dine Around’ program that allows all-inclusive guests to use credits at area restaurants
- Ex: Bay Gardens in St. Lucia’s Taste of Rodney Bay
- Offer cooking classes on or off property in partnership with local chefs
If you’re a TOUR OPERATOR
Whether you’re dealing in land and sea tours or a combination thereof, it should be pretty easy to partner with a tried & true local food purveyor to give your target market segment the kind of experience they’re looking for. This could be anything from stopping for bake and shark on Maracas Beach in Trinidad after an adventure excursion to ending a luxury helicopter tour with high-end rum tasting at a local distillery.
If you’re a RESTAURANT or BAR
- Look for opportunities to vend at festivals & events
- Create and promote drinks that pair well with local dishes
- Co-promote / partner with a local hotel or resort
- Design your menu in such a way as you create ‘experiences’ for your guests (see #3 here)
Whatever you decide to do, don’t let a piece of the food-focused tourism pie pass you by!
Photography by Chelsea LaVere