Erik Wolf posted an articleJust Released! Ground-Breaking New State of the Food Travel Industry Report see more
Today the World Food Travel Association (WFTA) released its latest publication for the food and beverage tourism industry, an entirely revamped State of the Food Travel Industry Report, featuring original, ground-breaking research.
The 62-page report compiles the opinions, suggestions and comments from 71 food and beverage tourism industry experts from 20 countries. The report looks at the performance of food and beverage tourism providers, and suggests ways they can improve, such as by developing or improving food and drink activities. It also looks at key food tourism issues overall, along with ways our industry can better match traveler expectations. Considerable attention is given to preserving culinary authenticity, and why it is important to educate visitors, offering them a memory and not just a meal.
Some of the key takeaways from the report include:
- Travelers and consumers alike are more obsessed than ever with everything having to do with food and drink. Interest continues to increase thanks largely to the role of social media.
- Providing a genuinely authentic product or experience is essential. Visitors are increasingly knowledgeable about, and demanding of, authenticity in food/drink products and experiences.
- The need for cultural preservation is urgent, and not limited to cuisine, as other manifestations of culture, such as music, clothing/fashion, architecture and more are threatened by globalization.
- Failure to support small food/beverage businesses will result in hastening towards globalization of the so-called “local” experience, thereby completely negating one of the main reasons to travel for food and drink, as destinations are already beginning to resemble each other more and more.
- At the same time, residents would benefit from knowing more about the history of iconic culinary products and traditions in their area, and why preserving culinary culture is a tool for economic development. Therefore local residents should be considered an important target market.
- The food/drink experiences provided by businesses and destinations often don’t match visitor expectations. Businesses need to understand that they are selling not just a food/beverage product but also an experience. If visitor (customer) expectations are not met, negative word-of-mouth ensues. Know your customer journey and plan accordingly to help prevent that.
- The benefits of developing food tourism go well beyond actual tourism. Food tourism is not just about attracting more visitors who generate a positive economic impact with their spending. It can also help protect local heritage by putting the spotlight on local food and drink, conveying a sense of pride to local residents, and even fostering post-trip demand for product exports.
Get a Free Copy of the Report
Register for a free copy of the report. The report is another way that the World Food Travel Association (WFTA) leads with firsts for the world’s food and beverage tourism industry.
About the World Food Travel Association
The World Food Travel Association (WFTA) was founded in 2003 as a non-profit and non-governmental organization (NGO) and is considered the world's leading authority on food and beverage tourism. The Association’s mission is to empower local communities and businesses with the food and beverage tourism knowledge and tools needed to reach new consumers and gain a competitive edge. Each year the Association serves the needs of nearly 100,000+ professionals in over 100 countries.
Erik Wolf posted an articleThe Association's annual year in review and look ahead to the next year. see more
2016 YEAR IN REVIEW & LOOK AHEAD
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE WORLD FOOD TRAVEL ASSOCIATION
It has been an action-packed journey as we prepare to enter our fourteenth year of operations. No one can really predict how an organization will grow, and we are grateful that we continue to find success in the leadership and advancement of our industry. We would not be able to grow without your continued support, for which we are grateful. Please accept our thanks.
We have not published an annual report for nearly 10 years. We are a small organization and as the Global Financial Crisis emerged in 2007/2008, the act of documenting our annual activities seemed trivial. Like all other businesses, we were trying to survive and learn new ways of doing business. During the Dark Ages of Culinary Tourism (2008-2012), we worked on many projects overseas which supported us financially during that time. The Dark Ages of Culinary Tourism are long gone, we completed a successful rebranding in 2012, and we’re in the process of implementing your feedback gleaned from our 2015 State of the Food Tourism Industry report. It is a time to start again with our annual report. We recognize the importance of cataloging our achievements to both our stakeholders and our community. While our fiscal year ends on June 30, this annual report captures our activities and accomplishments in a traditional January-December calendar year.
FOOD TRAVEL MONITOR
In June, we launched the 2016 Food Travel Monitor, which is the largest food and beverage tourism research study ever conducted. Included in the Monitor is an analysis of 11 major markets, including China, India, the US, the UK, Germany and more. The Monitor included expanded information on PsychoCulinary profiling, which is like psychographics on steroids and helps marketers to hone in to a laser-fine understanding of the motivations and purchase decisions of food lovers who travel. With future editions of the Monitor, we hope to analyze more markets and look at specific supplements like technology and product groups like cider or chocolate.
In January, we launched the 2016 FoodTrekking Awards as a test to see how well received the program would be received by our industry. We were surprised and encouraged by your response. In 2016, we gave awards in 5 categories (best beer experience; best wine experience; best foodservice experience; best destination experience for foodies; and best food/beverage tour experience. In 2017, we will offer awards in 12 categories and employ the skills of 10 well-regarded industry professionals as judges.
FOOD TRAVEL TALK TV LAUNCHES
In April, we launched Food Travel Talk TV, which is designed as an online talk show about food travel. This year, we featured episodes about India, Poland, Nicaragua, Arizona, Greece, Ireland, Italy, megacities, health and wellness, and even a segment on technology tools. For 2017, we will be adjusting the brand for this show, which will be called FoodTrekking TV starting in January 2017. The name adjustment is to align with our other complementary projects in the works that use the same FoodTrekking brand name.
Our Certified Culinary Travel Professional (CCTP) program continues to be our most popular product. Major updates to the program were introduced in May and again in October 2016. Approximately 80 students went through the program this year. Our largest training was to a group of delegates at Travel Nevada's annual tourism conference, where 40 people took the certification course over two days. We launched a Facebook group where any past CCTP graduates can join to show others that they completed their culinary travel certification. We also moved the training to a new learning platform, which our students have praised. In 2017, we'll be releasing two new short courses to help our industry even further: one about the role of food and beverage in destination branding, and a second course about food/beverage tour operations.
NEW ENTREPRENEUR TRAINING
In July, we launched our FoodForwardX business readiness training. Two different courses are offered, one for food and beverage entrepreneurs, and for food and beverage tourism professionals. The 3- and 4-day courses are designed to fill a training gap, namely between short courses and webinars on one side, and full-fledged university degrees on the other side. The training is much more detailed and hands-on than our online Certified Culinary Travel Professional course. FoodForwardX was created to respond to an industry need, namely that many industry professionals needed a boost in basic business knowledge and/or experience, either to start a new business or take their existing business to the next level. Most webinars don't go into enough detail, and university programs take too long and cost too much. FoodForwardX has been a huge success, with over a dozen students graduating so far. Training takes place in person near our offices in Portland, Oregon, USA, and it can also be delivered onsite for specific business needs, and localized for delivery in other countries and languages.
NEW ONLINE COMMUNITY & MEMBERSHIP OPTIONS
In May, we introduced our new online community platform to help unite the 44,000 professionals in our extended circles into a single, online family in one, central location. For example, we have 24,000 readers of our newsletter, nearly 11,000 members in our LinkedIn group, and almost 4,000 followers on Facebook. None of these people have been talking together. The new community is designed to unite us all under one roof. The new community is also where we house our knowledge library, our CCTP training and our Help/FAQ content. It really is our hub. We’re working on additional upgrades and enhancements that well introduce in early 2017.
NEW & IMPROVED PARTNERSHIPS
This year we forged new partnerships such as with Green Festivals, the largest green living and resources type of conference in the world, with 6 major showcases in the USA as well as Germany. We also deepened our relationship with existing partners such as World Travel Market, where we delivered the message about food tourism for the second year in the row. At that session, we invited BBC's Travel Editor Anne Banas to share the spotlight. Anne is the second BBC media professional in our family of 1,684 media professionals world-wide. We also continued to support Eat Spain Up and speaking of Spain, we collaborated with our partner KOAN Consulting in Madrid in a bid on a major project. We're currently working on a partnership with Tourism Tribe, based in Australia. They have a fantastic community of tourism professionals and excellent resources in basic tourism training.
MOST SPEECHES IN ONE YEAR
Our Executive Director Erik Wolf had the busiest year ever on the road, racking up 80,000 airline miles. He delivered speeches to major organizations that include UNESCO, UNWTO, World Travel Market, Great Wine Capitals of the World, Travel Nevada, National Tour Association's Contact, TTRA's Marketing Outlook Forum, DMA West, Failte Ireland, Association de l'Agritourisme et du Tourisme Gourmand du Quebec, and the Poland Culinary Tourism Association, just for starters. This brings the total number of professionals who have heard the food tourism message to nearly 50,000 around the world, since we began spreading the message back in 2001.
In February, Portland, Oregon was home to our fourth FoodWorx event to debate issues relating to the food and beverage industry. It was a great event with lots of interesting topics and speakers, including Pink Martini's Timothy Nishimoto. It has been a great 4 years so it was hard for us to make the decision to retire FoodWorx, which will allow us to focus on our core competency, namely food and beverage tourism. We are eagerly preparing for our next big event, FoodTrekking World, taking place in Portland, April 1-4, 2017. If you are unfamiliar with FoodTrekking World, it is the new brand name for our international food tourism summits, which take place biennially. The event is unique in that it combines the world's leading thought leaders in food tourism with pre-scheduled business to business appointments. Delegates hear 6-8 world-class speakers, and attend up to 30 prearranged appointments with other delegates. Naturally there are a lot of great food and drink experiences in the host destination. FoodTrekking World ends with the 2017 FoodTrekking Awards Ceremony.
The first quarter of the year, 1Q2016, saw a brand new WorldFoodTravel.org website. Websites always seem to be a work in progress, and ours is no exception. The new website introduced much improved navigation, a new news blog, better graphics, and better e-commerce functionality. We also standardized our products into four major categories (Knowledge, Community, Events and Opportunities), which is reflected in our other promotional materials. You can expect another major website release in 1Q2017, which will usher in a new era of usability and navigation ease. We also introduced a new news website, FoodTravelNews.org, which will bring together all Association news, industry news, project updates, and much more.
We refreshed our branding ever so slightly. Our business cards and our printed brochures now feature the same consistent image on their covers. We also began using a consistent block of 4 colors to supplement our original color palette. The 4 colors are finding their way into some of our new product logos. We're starting to work towards fine-tuning our logos so they begin to look like they belong together. Speaking of brochures, we'll be merging our Association Overview and Association Opportunities brochures into a single, combined brochure, new for 2017.
This year we began using officially a new tagline "We create economic opportunities where food and beverage meet travel and hospitality." We had been saying this for years so it was time to make it “official”. We observed that many people still were having a hard time understanding the benefits of food and beverage tourism. This new tagline clearly underscores that the benefits of food tourism are primarily economic. The new tagline also emphasizes that we're talking about the intersection of food and beverage with travel and hospitality. If it is not clear to you how food and beverage intersect with travel and hospitality, consider the fact that all travelers eat and drink.
This year we tested several customer service softwares and chat clients to see which would meet our needs best. After much trial, we were finally able to decide on a great service provider. Now when you contact us at help(at)worldfoodtravel(dot)org, or via online chat (look for the small blue "Help" button) in the lower right of any of our websites. You will receive an automated response with a tracking number. Not only does this help us better track service requests, it also allows us to respond to you much more quickly.
BETTER INTERNAL SYSTEMS
This year we made welcome improvements in our financial recordkeeping by standardizing our bookkeeping software and hiring a new bookkeeper and new accountant. We also improved our marketing automation, and still have some additional improvements to make there for 2017. Soon we will say goodbye to one CRM (customer relationship management) vendor and begin using a new one that we're very excited about. Our communications to you will then be more relevant and timely with information and offers about specific products that you want to know about. You'll be able to unsubscribe from a specific product news list, instead of having no choice but to unsubscribe from all our communications. Many people find newsletters intrusive so we are directing all our newsletter readers and followers to get the information they need on our new FoodTravelNews.org website. There is also an RSS feed available so you can get the news on your smartphone.
We continue to be the pioneer in advancing knowledge and leadership in the food and beverage tourism industry. We do this by identifying and responding to trends (like our entrepreneur business readiness training), contributing to industry blogs (such as on the World Travel Market website), speaking at industry events (such as UNESCO and UNWTO), and by supporting journalists everywhere. There are other organizations that focus on food and beverage, and still others that focus on travel and hospitality. No other organization addresses the intersection of food and beverage with travel and hospitality to the extent that we do. We were the first to do so, and we're unique in the products and services we offer, as well as our leadership position in the industry.
Peering into our crystal ball, in 2017 you can expect from us more programs that support our Food Tourism 2025 industry vision. Many of these programs came out of needs identified in our 2015 State of the Food Tourism Industry research.
First, we're working on a system to accredit academic, vocational and other institutions that teach food or beverage tourism. The quality and consistency of current such programs vary greatly, and we're taking steps to fix that.
Current products like our FoodTrekking Awards, Food Travel Monitor, and FoodTrekking TV will expand and make needed fine-tuning adjustments. We're also in the process of building out FoodTrekking.org, a new online food travel magazine and marketplace for consumers, with booking functionality and mobile marketing tools built in for the trade.
We encourage industry leaders who are interested in capturing the attention of both trade and consumers interested in food travel to get in touch so that we can support your efforts and ensure that you have a seat at the table.