Food and Beverage Experience Accreditation for Businesses

How well do you understand your customers' food and beverage experience journey?

Business Accreditation

We at the Association are often heard saying, "It's a memory and not a meal," in reference to foodservice experiences. Unfortunately, that concept is all too often either not understood or forgotten when serving food and beverages to visitors.  The food and beverage you offer are an important, if not the most important, part of your business and the products you sell. But again, it's not just a meal; you should be serving a memory. We analyze the complete food and beverage experience assessment, in other words, the Food-Lover Customer Journey, for your business.

What kind of food or beverage experience does it take to lure foodies (and non-foodies alike) to your business? A single focus on fine dining or photography featuring the ubiquitous tower of food may not be enough. Similarly, inconsistent service, food quality concerns, and food safety issues can also harm the reputation of your business and adversely affect your ability to attract new visitors and customers. These are just a few of the concerns that affect the customer journey, and one of the major reasons why some people have great things to say about your business while others do not. For those unhappy customers, their expectations were not met.

What is the Deliverable?

Your business will receive:

  1. A comprehensive analysis and action plan in PDF format. We include areas in need of improvement along with suggestions to help you grow your business. Reports are approximately 20 pages.
  2. A final score based out of 100 possible points. Your score is not posted publicly. Rather, it is designed to help you measure your business progress over time.
  3. If your business scores at least 75%, you will receive an accreditation logo for use for the next 365 calendar days, as well as a listed on the "Accredited Businesses" page of our website (currently in development).

Accreditation Process

The process towards business accreditation is as follows:

  1. Once you purchase the Accreditation from our online store, you will be invited to complete the online questionnaire (you'll receive the link within 24 hours). The questionnaire is 100% online. You can save and resume your application at any time to complete it. The full questionnaire can take 1-2 hours to complete, but only the first time. While this sounds like a large time commitment, remember, you don't have to wait for one of our assessors to travel to you, and there are also no travel expenses, which would add considerable time and cost to the assessment. And subsequent annual updates can be performed in only 30-45 minutes.
  2. Once we receive your completed questionnaire, we will conduct our analysis which will take approximately 15 business days (3 calendar weeks).
  3. Before your accreditation is awarded, you will receive a written PDF report that discusses your accreditation rating and areas in need of improvement.

Why Create an Accreditation?

We created the Business Accreditation to help business owners by providing an impartial, arms-length assessment of how your customers experience your food and beverage offering, from pre-purchase, at purchase and post-purchase perspectives. Remarkably, no such assessment existed in the market, and especially in a tourism context. There are plenty of rating systems (think: stars, wineglasses, forks, etc.) with arcane and subjective rating systems. What's the true difference between 4.5 and 4.6 stars? Or how do you begin to understand Zagat's famed 28-point rating system? Things have changed dramatically in our industry. To survive, and thrive, your business either gets it, or you have some work to do.

Who benefits from Accreditation?

Accreditation goes well beyond just restaurants and other foodservice establishments. Every sector of food and beverage tourism plays an important role in the overall Food-Lover Customer Journey. This affects the experience as much for locals as for visitors.

The assessment process and accreditation is suitable for any business that provides food or beverage products or experiences to customers. This can include, but is not limited to:

  • Foodservice of all types. Restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars, taverns, inns, take-aways, food trucks/carts, caterers, tasting rooms at wineries/ breweries/ distilleries.
  • Food & beverage tours.  This can be a food tour, wine tour, beer tour, distilled spirits tour, or something organized like a pub crawl, food/beverage factory tours, etc.
  • Culinary classes. Cooking schools, team building classes, instructional classes (such as wine education), tasting classes, etc.
  • Culinary lodging. This includes hotels, resorts, spas, inns, B&Bs, etc.
  • Food or beverage events. Festivals, parties, etc. Also includes meetings and conventions.
  • Farms and markets. Farms, farmers' markets, indoor markets, outdoor markets, historic markets, etc.
  • Culinary retail and grocery. Gourmet stores, grocery stores, wine/spirits stores, duty-free stores, chocolate stories, ice cream stores, candy stores, bakeries, etc.
  • Destinations. While we are also qualified to assess destinations, our Business Accreditation is designed for individual businesses. Destination marketers should look at our Food Travel Strategy & Development work. Our Business Accreditation can also help your members or constituents (get in touch for discounted bulk pricing).

Accreditation Benefits

Business Accreditation provides you and your business with the following benefits:

  • Speed. No need to wait for assessors to schedule a time to visit your business. The entire process can take as little as 3 weeks.
  • Impartiality. Much of the analysis is based on pass/fail. There is little room for personal opinion and bias.
  • Positioning. Understand how to best position your business(es) to lure food lovers
  • Perception. Understand how visitors perceive your business, before they depart, while they are there, and discover what they say after they return home
  • Insight. Discover your business strengths and weaknesses in food and beverage experiences
  • Focus. Learn where your attention is needed in product development, marketing and stakeholder engagement
  • Improvement. For annual renewals, we track your business performance on a year-to-year basis and compare it with similar businesses world-wide
  • Facts. Evidence-based recommendations, not theoretical academic discourse
  • Trust. Engender trust with your potential customers. Let them know how seriously you value them and their business.
  • Tangibility. Final PDF report with action items, recommendations and next steps

Good to Know

  • If your business comprises multiple outlets (locations), only one (usually the primary one, main location or headquarters) is assessed.
  • The Accreditation is for businesses only. If you represent a destination or organization, we can help your individual members or constituents. Please get in touch to discuss discounted bulk pricing.
  • Your application fee covers the application itself, including review by our experienced in-house assessors (always a team of two) and creation of a final PDF report (approx 20 pages). The application fee is non refundable.
  • Businesses are accredited if your final score is 70% or higher. Accredited businesses will be included on our new accredited business listings page (launch August 2018).