Blogs

  • 24 Sep 2017 by Erik Wolf

    After a long day of stunning sights, unusual sounds, interesting smells, and at least 100 certainly never-before snapped pictures of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, we ended up for a late lunch at a café just off the Corso Italia, in Pisa. I ordered Pici Cacio e Pepe, a pasta dish renowned throughout Tuscany. I swirled the creamy, peppery goodness around my fork and placed the parcel in my salivating mouth. I could hardly wait. Heaven. It tasted just like I imagined. The fat pasta was unique to us, meaning that we probably couldn’t find it at home, so we bought some to take back with us. Once home, we replicated the dish as best we could, using an authentic Italian recipe and the Italian pasta. It just didn’t taste the same. We had taken such pain to ensure authentic replication, yet the taste didn’t come close to what we remembered. We wondered why, and then we realized, it’s because the sense of place was missing.

    I thought back to other similar situations I experienced with food and drink. The same thing happened with a bottle of Megas Oenos wine that we enjoyed at a lovely outdoor restaurant on the Greek island of Mykonos. I found the same wine on a menu at a restaurant in New York City. We weren’t impressed. The same thing with fresh strawberry juice blended at a juice stand on the streets of Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro. The version we made at home didn’t begin to taste like its Brazilian cousin.

    Continue reading ...

    The notion of celebrating a sense of place through local food and drink was first discussed in 2001 in a white paper published by Erik Wolf, who later founded the World Food Travel Association (WFTA). The WFTA’s mission is to create economic opportunities where food and beverage meet travel and hospitality. Learn more about food tourism and what it can do for you at www.WhatIsFoodTourism.org. Be sure to attend the food tourism session at World Travel Market, taking place on Tuesday, 7 November, 10:30 - 12:30 in Platinum Suite 3.

  • 20 Mar 2017 by Erik Wolf

    The bottom line is that large hotel corporations are in a state of self-preservation. They’re like an animal threatened in the wild. They may be building more hotels because they are really needed, or they may actually be trying to continually innovate with new properties in order to stay relevant. The peer to peer trend will continue to give standalone hotels a run for their money for the foreseeable future.

    My usual home (hotel) away from home in London had finally priced itself out of my reach. I just cannot justify the prices being charged by many hotels these days. Want wifi, laundry or a bottled water in your room? Your bill can grow quite large rather quickly. Hotel rates seem to have skyrocketed in the past 10 years, far ahead of any logical explanation due to inflation. I suppose high hotel rates are paying for all the new hotel construction. But do we need that many new hotels?

    Continue reading....

    Photo Credit: The Sun UK

  • 20 Mar 2017 by Erik Wolf

    Think about any “tourist trap” restaurant. Now that you’ve got that image in your mind’s eye, it’s probably not far from a major monument or attraction, right? The menu is in multiple languages, possibly even with photos, high prices, rude waiters and mediocre food? We’ve all had that experience, and it’s not exactly something to write home about. As hospitality industry professionals, perhaps we tend to notice more these kinds of subpar experiences. While some hospitality professionals have superhuman powers that enable them to see around corners and intuit which culinary experiences will be fantastic or poor, most of us are not so lucky. It’s the same with visitors to your destination or business. Unfortunately, when visitors choose a restaurant, a destination, or a culinary activity, their knowledge of their proposed experience is limited to what they have heard or read.

    Continue reading...

  • 02 Mar 2017 by Erik Wolf

    Kauai’s food & beverage scene, from the visitor’s perspective.

    Circumstances had us jetting off to the garden isle of Kauai (Hawaii) this month, not a bad place to be after finishing up a month of record cold, snow and ice in Portland (Oregon, USA). And writing this on the way back, we’ve got more cold and rain ahead. You can imagine that we truly appreciated the weather on Kauai.

    Kauai is popular, but it isn’t the most popular of the Hawaiian Islands. Still, it’s arguably the most beautiful of the archipelago. Dramatic lush volcanic landscapes, tropical flora and fauna, postcard perfect beaches, waterfalls at every turn. Yes, you can find these on the other Hawaiian islands, but they abound on Kauai.

    In our pre-trip research, we discovered that coffee grows on the island, and we assumed there would be fresh seafood and of course pineapple. We had also heard that Spam was popular in Hawaii. Apart from some images of the landscapes, we literally had no idea what to expect. Pre-trip food and beverage information about Kauai exists only in bits and pieces for hungry food travelers. In advance of our arrival, we found information about restaurants at our hotel, hotel amenities and other attractions on the island. We definitely got the impression that Kauai was not marketing itself as a destination for food and beverage lovers.

    Continue reading ....

  • 04 Feb 2017 by Erik Wolf

    Here are 5 Tips You Can Use to Get Ready for the Future

    Looking into the crystal ball to predict the future is harder than ever these days. The world’s tourism landscape has changed. Cities like Venice, Barcelona and Amsterdam are oversold and new visitors to these destinations complain about the crowds, traffic and high prices. Europe is in disarray now, with hundreds of thousands of immigrants altering European cultures, perhaps forever. Brexit puts the UK in a category all its own, although a weak pound may bode well for now for inbound tourism there. A super strong U.S. dollar and a xenophobic tourism strategy don’t bode well for inbound travelers into the USA anytime soon. This will likely mean that the USA’s tourism growth, at least in the short term, will have to come more from domestic travelers. China’s overheated economy is cooling off and while the Chinese are still traveling, right now they’re not spending like they used to.

    Continue reading ...

  • 01 Dec 2016 by Erik Wolf

    A group of 200 industry food tourism industry leaders met last April at the Basque Culinary Center in San Sebastian, Spain at a conference co-hosted by the United Nation (UN) World Tourism Organization. The purpose of the conference was to define food tourism and debate the value and future of the industry. The result? The consensus is that food and drink tourism is here to stay. Why? Economic impact is certainly important, but perhaps moreso is the preservation and promotion of our food culture.

    Food tourism is all the rage. The topic is found on the agenda of all kinds of conferences around the world. Many destinations now include food and drink in their marketing mix.

    Continue reading ...

  • 21 Nov 2016 by Erik Wolf

    And Why It Might Be Worth Your Time & Money to Do So

    As customers, why do we continue to spend money with companies that create constant hardships for us? I never used to name company names, but as a “person of influence” in the travel industry, it’s time that I start wielding that influence. So here it goes.

    I transferred my “loyalty” to American Airlines this year from another carrier. The plan was to test out American to see if it would be a suitable company for me to invest my time, money and loyalty. So in a way, last January began a year-long interview process to see if the company was up to snuff to earn my business. After just 9 months, I had already concluded that aligning with this airline would be a serious mistake. Still, I was committed on several flights through November. So here I sit in O’Hare on an 10-hour layover (it was supposed to be a 6-hour layover but my flight was delayed 4 hours). That’s fine. I’m just biding my time thinking about the sea change that needs to happen in the travel industry. And I’m certainly doing my share to help bring about change.

    Continue reading ...

  • 15 Oct 2016 by Erik Wolf

    Why an Overhaul of Online Reviews is Desperately Needed

     

    There is no denying that review websites are part of our travel planning process today. No matter whether travelers use Trip Advisor for hotels and attractions, Yelp for restaurants, or any of a number of other online resources for everything in-between. It is a documented fact that travelers consult online review websites for an indication whether something would be worth the time and cost. Sadly, these websites give travelers and other consumers only part of the picture, and travelers are many times making their important holiday decisions based on partial facts, misleading opinions and even outright lies. You’ve probably noticed some of these inconsistencies yourself, reading how someone raved about a restaurant that you absolutely despised. How did the review industry get to this place? Let’s look at some of the more common review systems and the current problems they face. Then we’ll present various solutions to improve the overall critiquing process, especially for food and beverage tourism.

    Continue reading ...

  • 01 Sep 2016 by Erik Wolf

    And Why We Need to Own our own Food Future

    The summer shortly after I had turned 9 years old, I was visiting my grandparents. One day, my grandmother took me into her kitchen to teach me how to make cookies. I still remember they were made with flour, eggs, real peanut butter and real sugar sprinkled on top, complete with the pressed fork marks. The year was 1975.

    Fast forward to today. If you want cookies, you’ll either buy packaged ones in a grocery store or you might visit a baker. The number of people cooking at home seems to be smaller than ever. Many of us have already lost the know-how and even will to cook for ourselves. When I lived in New York City, I cooked for myself maybe 10 times in 6 years. My friends in London also rarely cook at home. My friends in Singapore eat out constantly because it’s fast, cheap and easy. We’re all busy, fair enough. But the added convenience and time savings come with a great cost: we’re forgetting how to cook (microwaves don’t count) and we’re also forgetting about food itself. Kids today think that chicken comes from the grocery store, not a farm. How did this happen?

    Continue reading ...

    Photo Credit: New Line Cinema, from the movie, Dumb and Dumber

  • 01 Aug 2016 by Erik Wolf

    The next big thing in food travel is how secondary and tertiary destinations like Poland are poised to skyrocket in popularity.

    What's the next big thing in food travel? For the new food traveler, nothing quite scratches the itch better than your first trip to France, Italy or Spain. But after the second, third or fourth trip to these countries, foodies start to yearn for new and different. The occasional business trips to London, Singapore and New York give us some opportunity to try new food and beverage experiences, but typically trips like that are made for business reasons and are not necessarily our first choice as food destinations. We still dream of cute cafés with outstanding views, the best locals-only restaurants and a new “undiscovered” beverage. These are the kinds of experiences that we tend to find on our own or via word-of-mouth from friends and family who we trust. Often this information does not filter down quickly enough, or more likely, our friends and family are not the same kinds of foodies that we are, and the traveling foodie is left to find new and exciting destinations on his or her own. That can take a very long time.

    Continue reading ...

  • 01 Jul 2016 by Erik Wolf

    Before you’re a food or wine traveler, you’re just a traveler. The airport experiences we have on the way to our next great food or beverage-inspired holiday can make or break our entire holiday-making experience.

    In my role, I’ve had the good fortune to be able to travel to many places, meet many people and enjoy many unique and memorable meals. After a while, you notice a few things, especially when you frequent the same destinations. I had a dreadful experience at the Vancouver Canada airport recently and it got me thinking. What happens if visitors become so aggravated before they arrive at their destination that the bad experiences irreparably tarnish their entire trip?

    That’s how I felt flying into Vancouver, BC, Canada from Seattle.

    Continue reading ...