Meeting planners know how important F&B is, but thrilling clients with banquet menus can be challenging. Try breaking out of the ballroom and turn a meal function into a culinary event.
A study recently released by the Travel Industry Association, in conjunction with Gourmet magazine and the International Culinary Tourism Association, indicates that as many as 60 percent of U.S. leisure travelers are interested in taking a culinary or wine-related trip in the near future.
“Culinary Tourism has reached the tipping point as a niche and an industry,” stated Erik Wolf, president and CEO of the International Culinary Tourism Association. “Unique food and drink are the perfect attractions, especially for second and [third-tier] destinations.”
Adding winery tours and tastings has been a trend for planners for a number of years. If you’ve done a banquet in a wine cellar, a shuttle-tour of several wineries or a four-course wine-tasting dinner, consider seeking out a vineyard that allows attendees to crush grapes or bottle wines themselves, or mixing things up with a microbrewed beer or vodka-tasting menu instead.
Not every city is a known culinary destination like New Orleans, Atlanta or New York, but smaller cities such as Charlotte, N.C.; Scottsdale, Ariz., Birmingham, Ala.; and Santa Fe, N.M., also have sterling reputations and impressive eateries. No matter where you meet, every city has its own culinary gem, whether it’s an unusual ingredient or cooking style, a bakery with phenomenal Mexican pastries, a Southern meat-and-three restaurant, or a French-style bistro tucked away in an historic house. So do a little research into what makes your city’s dining distinctive; your attendees will thank you.
Top five destinations for food-related travel*
3. New York
5. North Carolina
Top five destinations for wine-related travel*
2. New York
4. North Carolina
*Source: 2006 Comprehensive Culinary Travel Study, sponsored by Travel Industry Association, Gourmet magazine and the International Culinary Tourism Association