Marketing the Flavour

Paddock to plate to pixel: marketing food tourism through social media

Okay, so that’s one goat’s feta salad and one rustic club sandwich. Now, Sir, would you like those in Lo-Fi, Earlybird or #nofilter?

In the world of social media, there really is no greater superstar than food. Food is one of the most photographed, cropped and hashtagged topics on the Grammasphere. It’s so damn trendy. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen a plate of kale chips or a goji-studded acai bowl glide up my screen I’d buy McDonalds outright. I’ve seen more photographed glasses jars of green juice than I’ve had hot dinners.

Double taps aside, the presence of food on social media is very reflective of consumers’ connection with the food and beverage industry, and also showcases the touristic allure of an entire destination. Food tourism in the last decade has been increasingly recognised for forming the social and cultural image of both urban and rural locations. As Chang says, the “relationship of food and tourism is extremely significant because food can be used as a means of establishing strong regional identity with the tourism marketplace[1].”

This is especially telling of rural farmers and producers, who are now as important to the final product of say, a grass-fed, free-range sirloin with vine ripened heirloom tomatoes, as the chef that cooked the raw ingredients. Regional tourism providers are currently employing locally grown and produced foodstuffs and wines to enhance tourists’ experiences. Paddock-to-plate is becoming as much a category of cuisine as Oceanic or Nouvelle.

It’s quite a funny scenario to ponder over a glass of cab sauv commander cialis en belgique. The world continues to globalise itself, to become more open, whilst tourists continuously seek more localised, authentic cultural experiences. And gastronomy is an indispensable key to unlocking the identity of a region.

The World Tourism Organisation labels gastronomy as an “opportunity to revitalise and diversify tourism, promote local economic development, involve different professional sectors and bring new uses to the primary sector” (2012, p. 10).  And given that the future of business is now social (via social media and yes, including that tasty little app called Instagram), this sublime marriage of food and technology provides a third ingredient of the global-regional tourism paradox: people are now more global than ever, whilst searching for local intimacy in each tourist destination and then broadcasting that into the completely ubiquitous spatial realm they call the internet.  Paddock-to-plate-to-pixel.

So how do food and beverage establishments make each experience consistent to a location’s tourism value? It seems like quite a big marketing mouthful, especially when in 2012 events and brochures were the most heavily employed media for advertising food tourism.

Before you chug that last glass and deem the job too difficult, it’s not. What businesses in the food industry should do is know their people, know their region and then know how to use a crisp collaboration of traditional and social media advertising tools to bring it all together to the table. The more they know what tourists and locals are searching for in a destination’s food, the better they can create regionally representative plates and rich culinary experiences. And hey, these will be worth posting on Insta, which therefore increases its online presence and traffic. Free marketing always tastes sweet.

Restaurants, cafes, bars, specialty food stores, delis, people in the food industry. Use marketing that highlights your food’s connection and significance to the region, and vice versa. Make it conversation starting (did you see what that new bakery posted the other day?) and make it look good. Foodies and tourists travelling for culinary experiences will be able to connect much better with places that love their food as much as they do.

And remember to think outside the box jar.

[1] Chang, W. (2011). A Taste Of Tourism: Visitors’ Motivations To Attend A Food Festival, Event Management, col. 15, p.  151-161