“Wait, don’t eat that yet! Here, take a picture. Turn off the flash and take it from above. Yeah, that’s it. Let’s see? Here, let me take one of mine.”
I hear this almost verbatim, several times a week. The words are uttered by all kinds of people, in places such as cafés, hotel bars, and restaurants. What is it I’m hearing, you ask? It’s the universal chant of the foodie. It’s recited at breakfast. It’s sung at lunch. And it’s most definitely heard across the dining room at dinner—in chorus.
Learn to recognize it, because you’re going to be hearing it a lot from your new best friend: the foodie.
Foodie /ˈfüːdi / Noun. A person who is passionate about food and drink. A foodie is in constant search of new gastronomic experiences. Their approach to food is more akin to a hobby than a mere means to satiate hunger.
Foodies are a lucrative market for your hotel.
They’re not afraid to try new things in food and in travel—they crave whatever is innovative, unique, and engaging. And they often pay more for it. Cvent summed it up brilliantly when they exclaimed that “[Foodies are] willing to fork over serious cash on meals to earn foodie cred.” Because discovering something new and unique is what it’s all about.
Foodies will pay to be where their friends have not yet been, and to discover for themselves the world of culinary tourism. The Mandala Research firm, publisher of the 2013 “American Culinary Traveler Report,” says that “about half of all leisure travellers travel to learn about or enjoy unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences.” So we know there are a lot of foodies travelling the world.
We also know what they’re hungry for.
Locally sourced foods make them feel more connected to their destinations than anything else. What are their destinations? Places they can talk about with their friends, family, and social media audiences, places rich in history and culinary traditions. An unparalleled gastronomic experience speaks to the foodie as much as an ample pouring of a young, green wine paired with organic baked pear topped with goat cheese and toasted-maple-walnut crumble does.
Hungry? Thought so. But before you run to the kitchen, you need to know a few more things about marketing your hotel to the foodies out there.
Foodies are influential.
You see, foodies are dining out in Michelin-starred restaurants, back-alley cafes, and everywhere in between. They’re blogging about their experiences, which inspire other budding foodies to take up their own culinary quests. They’re constantly sharing pictures of their foodie finds on Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, and just about every other social media network. Last year Wired magazine reported there being over 178 million food photos on Instagram alone. The best part? The foodie effect works like word of mouth: all this attention and coverage is free and influential. And it lives online.
According to The Rise of Food Tourism, a joint report by Skift and the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance, “[…] culinary tourists share millions of photos daily […] this increases travel consumers’ awareness of different cuisines and cultures, and it fuels their desire to experience them.” To connect with this audience, you need to win one over. Foodies are friends with other foodies, so when you’ve made friends with one, chances are you’ve made friends with many. And that’s a good thing.
Think like a foodie to attract them to your hotel.
More and more people consider themselves to be a foodie. Each of them has a different palette, culinary preference, and level of gastronomic experience. Don’t assume this group is only interested in five-star hotel restaurants; these people dine both in and out, both high and low. They’re after experimentation, so they’re just as likely to try a local honey and herb salad as they are “the world’s best cheeseburger.” Whatever it is you or your locale boasts, trust that there’s a foodie out there ready to sink their teeth into it.
Similarly, the foodie is just as likely to stay at a self-catering holiday apartment, cooking their own meals with local ingredients, as they are at a B&B, design hotel, seaside resort, or vineyard. There just has to be something unique about the place. So don’t hesitate to differentiate your property on and offline however you can. And find ways to connect it to the local foodie scene, as foodies seek out food- and drink-related attractions—and hotels close to such attractions.
Better yet, partner with the local businesses that make up your area’s food, drink, and agricultural landscape. Come up with suggestions for long and short trips that will tempt foodies and benefit both your hotel and the business.
So, foodies are on the hunt for exciting culinary adventures.
Have a restaurant? A signature dish? Tell them on your website and online profiles. Is there a local farm or vineyard they can visit? Blog about it, share pictures of it on social media, and mention it on your hotel website. Whatever it is you have, high-quality photos, specific hotel details, and fetching descriptions are what you need to connect with these travellers.
Foodies do their research, so as long as you post consistently to social media, they’ll find you. For example, if your hotel has breakfast on offer, talk about each element, one post at a time—never all at once. Feature the breads and write about the local bakery that prepares them. A week later, introduce the local dairy farm that supplies the milk. And continue to tell your story over the course of a few days or weeks.
Accompany your posts with unique visual content. Don’t hesitate to take pictures with your smartphone, either, as social media audiences favour genuine content. If you have limited resources and no restaurant, there’s still a lot you can do to attract the foodie to your hotel. For example, instead of basic bag tea, try offering several artisanal or herbal options with lemon slices and honey. It’s an inexpensive touch that can make all the difference. A foodie will notice the smallest detail. They’ll blog about it and share it on social media, and they’ll be more likely to leave you a review as well, because they’ll notice that you care about the same things they do. You’re part of the club now.
Update your online profiles to attract foodies.
So now you have some ideas about what to do at your hotel, on social media, and on your website; but what about your online hotel profiles? You know, the ones you have listed with hotel metasearches and OTAs, These also need to be optimised to attract the foodie. Make sure your hotel details have been thoroughly checked and updated. This means adding relevant photos of your restaurant and breakfast, should it be on offer. Have a hotel bar? Include photos of it as well. Leave no detail out and take full advantage of any available space to add descriptions.
Having the right filters selected is equally important for a successful hotel profile. Without the metadata from these filters, it will be harder for foodies to find you. Check all amenities that apply to your property. Also, review the hotel type and make sure it accurately reflects your food- and drink-related goods and services.
Is your hotel already marketing to foodies? Let us know what tactics you’ve tried in the comments below. Have other questions about metasearch and hotel marketing? Join us on Twitter.