Registered Clubs – Finding, Crafting & Articulating Your ‘Taste of Place’

The chef committed to science is more responsive to the praise given by his patron than to the handful of gold that he might receive from him.
Chef’s Table, Marie Antonin Carème – L’art, 1833

A club’s raison d’être is primarily to benefit the community and contribute to its connectedness. There is of course a financial imperative to provide food and beverage services in a profitable manner, but now there is a social imperative to provide an experience around that food and drink to differentiate your offerings from others and provide a ‘taste of place.’

What is Taste of Place?

  • visitation that is centred on food and wine culture
  • ‘take away with you’ product offerings
  • food that tells the story of the heritage, the people, reflects place and enriches experiences
  • a valuable tool to boost economic, social and community development
  • an experience which offers both locals and tourists alike an authentic ‘taste of place’ or sense of your club’s ‘terroir’
  • …an experience where one learns about, appreciates, and or consumes food or drink that reflects  the local or regional cuisine, heritage culture, tradition or culinary techniques…

For small to mid-size clubs who perhaps do not have the financial means for dramatic refurbishments, taste of place activities are cost effective tactics to market their club and create deeper connections.

For large innovator clubs who are continually looking for ways to match their décor and food experiences to their changing demographic, the question is “what and where to next?” Taste of place extends their gastronomic assets and enhances their gastronomic capital.

Taste of place can play a role in repositioning long-held perceptions of club food and hospitality in people’s minds. Leveraging these strategies creatively will provide innovative taste of place activities to capture the hearts, minds and stomachs of their communities.

Begin at the Beginning

For culinary moderns, society changes and cuisine should follow suit.

Start by looking at the latest demographic profile of your catchment which is available at This site allows you to research your community’s demographic profile by suburb and council area on many different levels including: population forecasting, ethnicity, household/individual income, stage of life/service age groups, occupations and household structures, languages spoken at home and much more. This will help you build a picture of how the community your club serves has changed and what it looks like today. The latest 2016 Census data is now available.

Many local council websites have information or resources on the demographics, history, heritage, tourist attractions, business mix and community events, activities and classes for various age/interest groups. By discovering what services your council offers and links to, you can get some insight into what the community has deemed important.

Most local councils have a library or libraries with a wealth of local historic resources. They have a variety of activities and events which relate to the demographics and needs of the area and usually have historical collections for local studies and family history. Some have oral histories recordings which may shed light on historical agriculture and significant dishes that were cooked in the past. They may have copies of locally produced cookbooks from the area which will give some insight into historic foods and favourite dishes.

Your region’s historical society may undertake research on your behalf for free or for a modest fee. You might like to research historic agriculture, cookbooks, recipes or infamous or famous characters and photos from your region to build a story around a dish the chef has designed or a dining theme. Interestingly, in the case of the Hills District Historical Society, in 1974 its museum was established in the basement of the former RSL Club.

Do you have printed or electronic historical recipes, menus or photos of dishes, tables or special gustatory events? These pieces of ephemera will shine a light on what your patrons have enjoyed in the past and may provide inspiration for current chefs to reinvent these dishes for their modern clientele. These dishes come complete with your own taste of place back story. Better still, interview and visually record your oldest patron’s memories of their earliest days and dining at the club.

Your clubs’ database of members from registration, online newsletter sign ups, Facebook or Twitter followers provide you with lists which you can survey for information about your food and beverage offerings. Online surveys are easy to design in Survey Monkey’s free software and links to the survey can be inserted into your Twitter page, Facebook Page, online newsletter or printed and posted or handed to your older patrons to complete.

Food and Drink Narratives

The power of crafting an engaging narrative around your food and drink was driven home to me just last weekend as I volunteered at the joint Feather & Bone/Slow Food Sydney stall at historic Rouse House’s Autumn Harvest Festival.

Artisanal Butchers, Feather and Bone were selling Ark of Taste Bull Boar Sausages on artisanal sourdough with chutney. The An Historic Sausage narrative went something like this:

“Good morning, madam. Are you contemplating our Bull Boar Sausages? (Big smile) These are no ordinary sausage. They are a unique recipe in danger of extinction. They were created by the Italian-speaking Swiss immigrants in Victoria’s goldfields around 1850. They contain organic beef and pork marinated for three days in garlic infused red wine with added Christmas spices providing a fulsome aromatic sausage. We are serving today on artisanal sourdough with a bold, spiced, apple chutney for $5.00. So this is an historic sausage.”

We sold a lot of Bull Boar Sausages with this narrative. What narratives can you craft around your food and drink from local and club geography, history, characters and culture?

Celebrate Your Celebrities

This taste of place technique is about building a narrative around your chefs and mixologists. What are their cultural stories? What foods and food related issues do they care about? What do they make from scratch or do that is unique? Can they share their recipes or highlight their favourite local growers or producers? Can you encourage a talented local photographer to photograph your chef for Fairfax’s annual Shoot the Chef photo competition? Elevating your chefs and mixologists to celebrity status starting within the walls of the club can pay off in many ways – not the least of which is your local press and social media exposure.

Carème (1783 -1833) the inventor of French cuisine, named his dishes by ingredients and basic preparation method e.g. shrimp bisque. The variations where named using honorific individual achievement, geographical or historical names. Shrimp bisque for example comes à la française, à la Cornieille, à l’amiral de Rigny, à la princess, au chasseur, à la regence and à la royale.

Jamie’s Italian Trattoria in Parramatta is modern example of branded cuisine. His dishes are his take on his favourite Italian dishes. In his menu, he honours his mentor Gennaro Contaldo and he gives a contemporary nod to his British heritage by using unmistakably English expressions such as the full monty. Adriano Zumbo ‘signs’ his dessert creations with a small edible ‘az’ disk. What dishes could you design and brand after the local geography or history, honorifically after the chef, club’s founders, local food heroes, known characters from the club’s history or present day?

Masterclasses, pairing and food and drink appreciation events gain chefs and mixologists priceless marketing exposure. With the growing interest in Australian-made gins, what food pairing event could you create to highlight your chef’s talents and your mixologists gin knowledge? What ticketed masterclasses could your chef present in club to showcase his talents and become a culinary hero to those who entertain at home? Think cold oil spherification, gold leafing, chocolate and sugar work decorations and garnishes, multi-cultural desserts, elegant meals from cheaper cuts of meat or fermented foods – dishes and tips to impress their families and friends.

Ride the Trends

Carème’s genius, his “invention” of French Cuisine lay in the way he capitalised on and magnified trends – well in evidence.

It is not ‘selling out’ or ‘taking the easy road’ to hitch your star to a food or drink trend. In fact, it is good business sense and contributes substantially to taste of place when chef’s put their unique twist on the trend. Leverage this concept for a ticketed food event around a classic or new foodie film.

What’s your chef’s take on Babette’s Savarin au Rhum avec des Figues et Fruits Glacées?

Secrets to Capture the Hearts of Solo Diners

Solo Diners Account for 40% of Foot Traffic Now

As the dining style has become more casual, it’s far more approachable for a solo diner to come in and not feel uncomfortable sitting at a table alone. The 2018 Waitrose Food and Drink Report found 8 out of 10 agreed that solo dining is more acceptable than it was five years ago. Reservations app Bookatable reports a 38% increase in requests for a table for one in just three years. The market is changing and operators should consider how they can cater for solo diners from seating arrangements, providing reading materials, to offering half portions.  

 Savvy chefs know it is a huge compliment for the owner and chef when someone comes and eats on their own because solo diners are purposely coming to your venue for your food – not because friends dragged them there. Solo dining has become such a fixture that many places are considering it within restaurant design now, whether it’s fine dining or upper end or more casual.

 Why Do People Dine Solo?

Some say that with a phone, you’re never entirely alone – and for those who like to record their meal on social media, it may even be a relief not to have to pretend to listen to their partner’s conversation. Perhaps the quiet indulgence of treating oneself to a good meal is about embracing one of life’s greatest pleasures. It can be easier to score a seat in a busy restaurant when you’re solo and bask in the experience, without interruption or intrusion. Dining alone, you can order what you want, no swapping plates halfway, linger pleasurably over a coffee, eat dessert with just one spoon and pay the bill without a calculator.

 Key Demographics

NSW (35%) and VIC (31%) are the largest solo dining markets. Middle-aged, working consumers are the core demographic, 36% are white collar, 57% are between 25-29 years of age, 77% solo dining experiences occur on weekdays, 61% are eating breakfast solo, 50% are having a morning snack solo and 21% are having dinner solo. Lone diners like eating early: 6pm-7pm is the most popular timeslot. Most people go out for steak when eating alone, followed by modern Australian and Japanese cuisines. Japanese is one the most solo-friendly dining cuisines. Food bloggers often dine alone so they can take photos and notes at their own pace without frustrating co-diners.

There are two types of solo diners — those who are keen to participate and others who just want to keep to themselves, and it’s up to the service team to gauge which category they fall under. Train your staff how to talk to solos and teach them how to gauge what experience the solo diner is after.

Encouraging Solo Diners

One New York restaurant gives a glass of champagne to single female covers in particular, to send the message that the restaurant actually likes, even encourages, women to dine alone. Sydney’s Firedoor provides a surprise guest: a goldfish. A temporary pet for the night is his way of welcoming people who are eating by themselves. Create tailored menus or run special offers that encourage solo diners to eat out rather than order takeaway. Personalise everything: from changing portions to suit a sole guest to adjusting the pacing of dishes. Kindness rules with solo diners. It is an opportunity to spoil them with time and recommendations, to offering them half serves of anything that you can do as a half serve.

Variety and Portion Size

Diners do not want to wade through one large plate of the same thing. The more things people try off the menu, the more they enjoy their meal so aim to offer meals where they can sample something different every night of the week. Smaller options are a trend so even a solo diner can have 5 to 10 different things easily without having too much food. A tasting menu is the perfect option for any guest dining solo.

Experiential & Social

Rather than a table in between couples and groups, a seat at the bar, counter or open kitchen, where the chef’s prepare the dishes would be ideal. Solos can strike up conversations with the staff. Watching them prepare the offerings is a fascinating way to pass the time. Unless they’re doing work or reading, people usually want to connect and find out about what you’re doing. If you see they’re keen to engage, definitely keep a conversation going.

Communal seating conveys to your lone diners that you aren’t biased as to whether a guest is alone or with a full entourage– think long picnic tables, or rows of tables and benches.


For people keen to work, give them the Wi-Fi password and they can happily download their emails and have a piece of grilled fish and a glass of wine and be extremely happy. A free Internet connection can do wonders for any down time at your restaurant by easily convincing solo business professionals to pop in and answer emails while enjoying a drink or two.

What about the magical capabilities of portable charging stations. Guests stay longer to charge their devices so your staff have the opportunity to offer additional items. A simple, “would you like to see the dessert menu while you’re waiting?” and your customer becomes more likely to nibble on that piece of carrot cake they previously turned down, while they wait to power up.

Sometimes, solo diners do just want to be that: solo. The best thing you can do is make them comfortable by being the perfect amount of attentive so that you’re almost invisible and they can have their down time.

Benefits of Solo Diners in Your Restaurant

  • Providing consistently accommodating service is a sign of integrity in your business practice
  • You never know who you are serving – blogger, new resident, food tour scoping or reviewer
  • Solo diners may return either by themselves or with company
  • A table with one person can be an easy table
  • It’s a compliment. It shows that your restaurant is simply worth eating at.


Marketing Your Restaurant or Cafe Using Email, Free WiFi & WiFi Analytics

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Email is still a highly effective marketing tool for venues. Even if you have a great Facebook or Instagram following, the actual engagement on these platforms will shrink over time as consumers become over-saturated with messages.

Brand loyalty brings paying customers in the door in response to an incentive or offer that is particular to them. Regardless of the style of service – casual dining, fast casual, fast food and fine dining – or type of food, restaurants exist in a crowded marketplace. Communicating frequently with customers via email, whether weekly or monthly, is an easy way for a venue to stay top of mind with consumers.

One-off emails or messages that are not part of a broader campaign, are a great way to promote products, new flavors or offer a special discount to customers. When customers receive messages that are always new and fresh, this gives them a reason to make a return visit to the restaurant.

Email campaigns provide restaurants with the ability to build a local following from the very beginning. When utilised correctly, email marketing helps brands build a personal connection with their target audiences and drive customer traffic even when disruption or construction challenges the access to your venue.

How to Collect Emails:  If you do not offer free wifi in order to collect customer emails and mobile for sms personalized push notifications, leave a sign-up sheet for your newsletter. Have in-store signage to encourage follows on Instagram and Facebook (which should have calls to action and buttons to like, follow and sign up to your newsletter). Make sure your website has a newsletter sign up too. You can run contests and giveaways now to reach a target number of subscribers, which is usually 1,000.

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Offer an Incentive to Sign Up
Offer discount codes for customers signing up to your newsletter and regularly offer specials and exclusive incentives (free appetisers, extended happy hours, newsletter-only coupon codes or 10-15% off purchase) to newsletter subscribers.

Free Wifi is now expected in most modern cities. People like to check their social media or email while waiting for food. You can offer a valid wifi password for a time limited period with purchase of a food or beverage item if a café or takeaway, or for free if a restaurant. Read about How Wifi Data helps Restaurants Produce more Customer Traffic.

Collect Email and Mobile with Appropriate Conditions: If providing free or time limited wifi, ensure you collect the customer’s email and mobile in order to add them to your newsletter email list or wifi push notification marketing lists. Ensure they tick a terms and conditions box which includes the condition that they agree to sign up for your email newsletter and accept sms notifications from your venue. (Your wifi provider should have standard conditions.)

Track returning patrons and allow segmenting of emails or texts: Ensure the service provider you choose has software that can track returning patrons and allow segmenting of email or texts with high precision personalisation based on patron behaviour. Instant rewards can be given for those that come back 5 or 10 times and those who have not returned can be lured back with an incentive. Some WiFi & WiFi  Analytics Suppliers in Sydney here:  Discovery Technology, One Wifi, Wireless Edge Networks

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Email automation: is an automatic workflow of emails that trigger a send whenever a user subscribes. Setting up email automation will result in automatic touch points and is an efficient way for brands to reach their target market.

This might begin when a user subscribes to the email newsletter. Once the information is entered into the system, an automatic thank-you email is sent with a coupon code for 10% off. Then the type and frequency of automated emails can be set according to your brand’s strategy for engaging with its audience.

Hyper-Personal Marketing: Personal events and attributes like birthdays, wedding dates and demographics, combined with radius targeting, or serving ads to consumers who are a certain distance from the business, helps the message resonate better with the audience.

Viktoria Darabi is a Culinary Tourism Whisperer & Crusader, Food & Beverage Trendspotter. She works with Government and non-government organisations with the leadership and vision to champion the power of food culture activities to celebrate multi-culturalism, promote social cohesion, engender a sense of community pride and to transform or construct ‘place’ to define a destination’s identity and distinctiveness.

Registered Clubs & Co-working Spaces – A Marriage Made in Heaven

Clubs – A great place to play…

A great place to work in the gig economy.

The Gig Economy and the Future of Work

More and more workers, especially Gen Y are moving away from a 9 to 5 routine. Those workers who are unable to secure full time employment in a challenging labour market have turned to freelancing from necessity. This seismic shift to freelancing has increased the demand for flexible and diverse work and working space options.

This mode of work has grown in line with the online freelancing platforms like UberFood, Airtasker, Airbnb, Freelancer, Air Events Global and Deliveroo. More of this current generation will end up being freelancers, contractors or contingent workers than ever before. Careers are now shaped by working task-by-task for different employers concurrently.

Australia’s gig economy does not figure in employment figures yet, but according to US trends, one third of the national workforce currently participates in contingent work and more than 3 in 4 employers believe that it will be the norm for people to pick up extra work through job related websites or apps.

In this table, Gig 1 refers to independent contractors, consultants and freelancers, Gig 2 refers to all Gig 1 workers plus temp-agency workers and on-call workers and Gig 3 (the broadest measurement) includes all Gig 2 workers plus contract company workers.

In Australia, the largest freelance category is web, mobile and software development (44 percent), followed by design and creative (14 per cent), customer and admin support (13 percent), sales and marketing (10 per cent) and writing (8 per cent). Data revealed that 4.1 million Australians, or 32 per cent of the workforce had freelanced between 2014-2015.

The Rise of Co-working Spaces

Alongside the growth of the freelance economy has been the rise of co-working spaces: working environments where individual professionals work on separate projects in a communal setting. Removed is the isolation contingent workers can feel by housing a collective of passionate and driven freelancers. Connecting with similar-minded people facing similar challenges provides valuable opportunities to innovate. Co-working networks can lead to the formation of valuable business relationships such as investors, partners, mentors or boards of advisors.

The popularity of co-working spaces is such that there has been a rapid growth both in the number and variety of them worldwide. Studies have shown co-working spaces have doubled each year globally since 2006. In 2012 the number of co-working spaces in Australia increased by 156 per cent.

The Creative Fringe

In 2014 in Penrith on Sydney’s western outskirts, Debbie O’Connor launched The Creative Fringe offering private offices, desk hire, meeting rooms, training rooms and venue hire. Debbie explains her concept: “Our coworkers assist each other in delivering solutions, as well as providing inspiration and education. We provide an open plan office space ready for collaboration and brainstorming – were our members can create and leverage off one another. To learn. To be inspired – for a day, a week, a month or a year.”

WeWork’s Australian Co-working Spaces

WeWork was a concept launched in the US in 2010 and they now have two spaces in development in Melbourne and in Sydney, spaces in Pyrmont and Martin Place with the George Street location opening soon. They offer private offices, dedicated desks or hot desks. They describe their locations as “the smartly designed workspace of your dreams. Located in some of the city’s most sought-after locations, we put you in historic buildings close to government offices, corporate headquarters, and important locations like the new International Convention Centre. These spaces are perfect for meeting with clients, making valuable connections in your field, or planning team events.”

Restaurant by Night – Co-working Space By Day

A little black dress goes from day wear to night wear with the addition of a few clever accessories. Spacious in New York saw that restaurants which were closed during the day could be transformed into an affordable network of co-working spaces and makes them accessible for US$95 per month.

Their ‘workspaces reimagined’ advantages were obvious. Their proposition: “host meetings in well-appointed social space or rent a private room. Make a great impression with clients and co-workers or walk in, take a seat, and start working with fast wi-fi and work-friendly music lets you stay connected and productive or recharge with plenty of outlets for all your devices, free coffee, tea, water and snacks for you and your guests.”

When you arrive at a Spacious location you simply enter your phone number at the kiosk check-in and they text you a wi-fi password and another one an hour before dinner service begins. They also offer free one week trials.

Two Space has launched this concept in Australia with four locations available in Sydney with five more due to launch, one location in Melbourne, with one more due to open there and one to come in Adelaide. Two Space offers Partner Addons in the form of hot desking spaces, meeting rooms, member perks and a Meet Industry Leaders option. They have free trials, individual access for $169 per month and team packages available.

A No Brainer for Clubs…

Successful and sustainable co-working and hot desking spaces offer:

  • variety of venues in a variety of locations
  • check-in facilities
  • well-appointed spaces to impress clients
  • fast wi-fi
  • plentiful power outlets
  • private meeting rooms
  • free coffee, tea, water and snacks
  • casual spaces to connect during the working day
  • spaces to socialise after the working day
  • dedicated co-worker happy hour
  • no strings attached
  • exclusive event access
  •  one week free trials
  •  Community Managers

I challenge clubs to re-imagine any ‘dis’ or under-used meeting rooms, empty or under-used day time restaurant spaces, take a new leap and build even stronger communities around work, food and play.

Australian Registered Clubs – Destinations for ‘Gastrodiplomacy’​


If travelling is an act of freedom in times of uncertainty and growing protectionism, then travelling for food culture experiences is ‘gastrodiplomacy’ at its best.

Hearts and minds won through the stomach is a much more emotional and engaging way to construct a narrative of understanding and social cohesion amongst diverse cultures. To my mind, the social history and unique assets of Australian registered clubs make them powerhouses of possibilities.

Food is Changing How People Travel

We know tourists plan entire vacations around food and registered clubs can leverage this trend for their best interests. In fact food culture ranks third after cultural and nature motives. While Noma has proven that you can build a global community around a restaurant, you don’t have to be a Noma pop-up to build community around a club for travellers looking for authentic experiences and connections with the surrounding community. What better place to do that than in a registered club which holds the social and cultural story of its community within the fabric of its walls and the memories of its patrons?

As more travelers have realised that dining is truly an experience in itself, more restaurants and destinations are pursuing innovation and creating unique dining experiences. More international travelers choose destinations based on food, restaurants and fresh produce. Australian clubs offering innovative food activities and events are primed to meet this demand. What better place to take ‘Visiting Friends and Relatives’ than to your club to show off the chef’s latest food culture fusion creation or an Australian gin and food pairing experience?

Hungry for Authentic Experiences – Hyper-local Dining

Eighty percent of Chinese travelers say they would like to book a meal in a stranger’s house because they want to see how people live and want to meet people in an authentic setting. It’s just the same as if you went to Paris, it would be difficult to meet Parisians up close and personal unless you booked an experience specifically to do this. Seventy-five percent of Americans have engaged in eating with local families or a hands-on experience such as a cooking class led by a local chef while travelling. Travellers book food experiences, meals, cooking classes, private parties wherever their travels take them in an effort to feel the authentic.

Millennials and Gastronomic Capital

Millennials now view food as important as their clothes in defining their character and social capital. Clubs that showcase their diverse culinary culture in new and exciting ways while promoting sustainability and social responsibility, will capture the millennials stomachs, hearts and minds well into the future.

Bottom Line Benefits 

Leveraging a club’s gastronomic assets has economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits. The 3rd UNWTO World Form on Gastronomic Tourism in May 2017 concluded that:

• Gastronomy is a key resource in the value proposition and differentiation of destinations. It is a market segment in itself rather than just a part of cultural tourism.

• Gastronomic (culinary tourism) broadens the view through the exercise performed by chefs and restaurants as loudspeakers to project gastronomic wealth, incorporating the triangle between cuisine, product and territory.

• Gastronomic Tourism contributes to the conservation of biodiversity and landscapes by maintaining the usage, customs and functions that allow for the preservation of the tangible and intangible wealth and the recovery of culinary memory.

• Gastronomic Tourism empowers all those who make up the chain of gastronomic value, especially the local communities, and also the professionals in their capacity as ambassadors of the territory, thus reinforcing the identity and sense of belonging and safeguarding the authenticity of each place.

• Gastronomic Tourism, through technology in the new world of a more demanding and hyper-connected customer, offers destinations the opportunity for the local community and travellers to co-construct their food stories.

• Gastronomic Tourism has the power to balance the heritage legacy between one’s own and that of others, allowing for the influence of other cultures that have contributed to the evolution of gastronomy of the region over the centuries.

Does Marketing Food Have a Positive Impact?

According to a recent survey by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) local government tourism boards and travel companies agree they are not doing enough to market their regions food and beverage offerings. While all respondents had indicated they hosted activities to promote food and beverage offerings and experiences, fewer than half said they had a food tourism strategy. The data below highlights the respondent’s thoughts on the benefits of promoting food tourism.

Type of Impact and Percent of Respondents

Promoting food tourism increased our positive media coverage – 77.20%
Promoting food tourism had an impact on increasing our website traffic – 65%
Promoting food tourism increased our income from this kind of tourism – 59.50%
Promoting food tourism increased sales at food-related businesses – 52.50%
Promoting food tourism increased bookings from tourists interested in food – 44%
Promoting food tourism had no impacts at all – 14%

Registered clubs can benefit from the experience of Tourism Boards in targeting the most popular food tourism promotion activities to see what resonates with locals and visitors and how best to spend their marketing dollars.

Activity and Percent of Respondents

Read published media articles – 93%
Read published research studies – 80.70%
Organised a gastronomy event (wine festival, food truck) – 78.90%
Sponsored gastronomy events/exhibitions – 75.40%
Used Facebook to target tourists interested in food – 63.20%
Tourism product developments (food trails, museums, visits to producers) – 59.60%
Created a brochure about food types in the destination – 59.60%
Hosted big food-related events to showcase products – 54.40%
Advertised via online platforms (blogs) – 54.40%
Used Instagram to target tourists interested in food – 42.10%
Used YouTube to target tourists interested in food – 40.40%
Used Twitter to target tourists interested in food – 38.60%
Used other social media to target tourists interested in food – 33.33%
Used Google+ to target tourists interested in food – 21.10%
Used LinkedIn to target tourists interested in food – 10.50%


“Gastro what? What do you do with a Master of Gastronomic Tourism?”

This is almost always the reaction when I tell people I’m studying a Master of Gastronomic Tourism. As I near the end of my degree, I’ve put a lot of thought into how to shape it into my dream work/life purpose.

Gastronomic Tourism as a discipline came into being as observation, experience and research revealed tourists plan entire vacations around food. Places, precincts, restaurants, food tourism companies, producers, growers, regions, cities and countries wanted to leverage this trend for their best interests.

So the marriage of Gastronomy and Tourism took place and blended the discovery, tasting, experiencing, researching, understanding and writing about food preparation and the sensory qualities of human nutrition as a whole and how it interfaces with the broader culture; AND travel for pleasure or business, the theory and practice of touring, the business of attracting, accommodating, and entertaining tourists and may be international, or within the traveler’s country or region.

A Gastronomic Tourism professional is someone with the skill set to develop destinations for social and economic benefit through innovative activities showcasing the unique food and drink culture of that destination.

“Please explain.”

Unpacking that definition:
‘professional’ means I will be engaged in a this activity as my main paid occupation;
‘develop’ means to bring into existence, grow or cause to grow and become more mature, advanced, or elaborate;
‘destinations’ denote a place that people will make a special trip to visit. It can be a restaurant, precinct, club, town, city, region, state or country.
‘social’ means in pleasant companionship with friends or associates, the welfare of human beings as members of society and tending to form cooperative and interdependent relationships with others;
‘economic’ relating to, or based on the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services;
‘benefit’ is something that produces good or helpful results or effects or that promotes well-being;
‘innovative’ introducing new ideas; original and creative in thinking to a process;
‘activities’ are direct experiences with animation, liveliness, an active movement or operation, using bodily power, function, or process;
‘showcasing’ an exhibit or display, usually of an ideal or representative model of something in its setting or place;
‘unique’ means limited in occurrence to an embodiment of characteristics or a given class, situation, or area;
‘culture’ means the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society, arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.

“Yes, but what will you do, exactly?”

Bring a love of, experience, knowledge and skills in business, tourism, marketing and gastronomy together to provide the food tourism strategy for those destinations.

Depending on the type of destination, developing food tourism for a place from zero would involve site visits, mystery shopping and research to identify the destination’s hidden or historic gastronomic assets, uncover the food stories of locals, immigrants and refugees and discover their food heroes. If the destination had some existing food tourism, an audit of those and potential others would be in order.

One might use a combination of public forums and discussions to uncover what the community think are their marketable gastronomic assets. It may be necessary to conduct focus groups and workshop ideas with stakeholders to refine the ideas.

Along the way one would need to identify and engage corporate sponsors, social enterprises, volunteers and community groups that could be involved and provide support. If opportunities for trails, tours, events or festivals are identified, engage with local government or tourism bodies to develop and champion these ideas.

It may be necessary to provide assistance with branding and marketing of the individual tactics and after some development takes place, undertake surveys to obtain feedback from stakeholders and activity attendees.

Some destinations know they have existing assets but are unsure how to begin the process and some have a developing or mature product that may need enhancement or redevelopment and relaunch. Just as places, humans and food are in a state of dynamic reinvention, so gastronomic tourism destination development should be.

“OK, but what sort of organisations would benefit from this specialist service?”

Food tourism start-ups and organisations that are struggling to create a strong food (tourism) brand identity, those looking for a competitive edge, to grow or re-brand, re-launch and change direction.

A registered club may want to attract new members and new types of diners by offering new and different food experiences, activities and events.

Food tour and tourism businesses may wish to attract food tourists that are prepared to pay more for a more immersive experience.

Producers and growers associations or farmer’s market groups with tight budgets may need to invest in more clever, cost-effective strategic activities to attract and retain customers but lack the specialist skills to identify the tactics.

The destination marketing of places, precincts, regions, cities and countries are largely funded by their local councils, state, federal government and through specific grants. Some government bodies have permanent staff and some contract staff on a project basis but may benefit from specialist consulting.

“What’s Your ‘End Game’?”


Purposeful Events & Design Thinking

Two new trends, Purposefulness and Design Thinking, have emerged as areas of interest to Leaders, Sales Teams, HR and Events/Meetings Managers. Here is a quick run-down and how these trends present exciting opportunities for innovation in Events.

Alistair Kerr writes about Purpose Leadership which highlights the habit of intensive intentional focus of leaders on where they are going and the path that will take them there. This is attained through asking themselves simple but powerful questions each day to keep focused.

Ian J Lowe writes about Selling on Purpose which is about how purpose is a choice we can all make and is derived from connecting to each other in relationships, touching lives by being of service to others and through taking risks and learning new things.

Carina Bauer writes about Purposeful Meetings and how to plan with deeper meaning, innovation and insight in mind. By becoming more purposeful, event managers can demonstrate a new competitive edge. She outlines five tangible areas of focus that will help events and meetings become more purposeful:

  • Behavioural Science – for improved team communication, genuine connection, influence and recall.
  • Health and Well-being – incorporating healthy food, hydration and relaxation to energise.
  • Meeting and Event Design – understanding how purposeful design with light, air, sound, smell, touch and white space can assist collaboration, connection, learning and personal transformation.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility & Legacy – connection with non-profits, engaging with community, sustainability and the impact of ‘rethink, reduce, reuse and recycle’ is both a passion with millennials and X Gens and creates powerful connections.
  • Technology –how keeping pace with the benefits of new technologies in events is a hallmark of a purposeful event manager.

Brendan Doherty writes about creating events with purpose as being the evolutionary path to providing authentic experiences for the young conscious consumer of today. This presents opportunities for Event Managers to express greater brand purpose and provide more immersive experiences through event design. He outlines five key areas and ideas of how experience design can tell a brand story and connect with human values:

  • Environmental Innovation – making event waste streams smarter, integrating food rescue into events, substituting fresh cut flowers for succulent centrepieces sourcing local talent and using the share economy to transport staff.
  • Social Impact & Community Innovation – let your staff hiring and vendor selection reflect your values, partner with non-profits, source food locally an even integrate the grower into the event narrative.
  • Measure Your Living Data – measure what matters with our environmental, social and community impacts such as carbon footprint and waste diversion. This data adds depth and purpose to your event or brand story.
  • Tell Your Story – bring data to life by making it visually and interactively engaging with touch screens. There are gaming apps that let them track the micro-impact and get rewarded for energy saved, water conserved or waste avoided.
  • Human Centred Design – uses unconventional spaces, repurpose under-used spaces with natural light, biophilic design uses plant walls, grassy lawns, water, dappled light and temperature control to elicit creativity, focus, collaboration or relaxation.

This idea of Design Thinking has also emerged in the field of Human Resources. David Mallon provides tips for introducing design thinking into people strategies.

Marc Boisclair believes design thinking is the future. For event managers this means thinking about what intrinsically motivates an attendee and getting deep into their mindset. Personalise the message by thinking about what makes attendees tick – job satisfaction, community service, earning power, quality of life, transformation and designing an experience that delivers that result.

Millennials and Gen Xers in particular want to be a part of something larger than themselves. They care about economic equality, social responsibility and protecting the environment. How can you as the Event Manager align and deliver all these messages in delightful, surprising and purposeful way?



Hybridising Health & Hedonism – US Beverage Trends

Carlsberg’s London Pop Up Chocolate Bar

Highlights from BeverageIn View June 2016:

Consumer research finds that taste/flavour is the primary deciding factor for consumers’ preferred beverage, cited by 72%. Other choice influencers are health and nutrition (21%) and functional attributes (16%). Hybrid beverages that combine great taste with better-for-you benefits are increasingly available and popular. The top three categories of non-alcoholic beverages have seen little growth or even declines. Carbonated soft drinks and juices both recorded 0.1% growth while dairy milk fell 7%. In contrast, energy drinks grew by 8.9%, and coffee sales increased 8.7%. (Source: US Official News, March 25, 2016)

Tea is being mixed with alcoholic beverages such as Bourbon, Vodka, Wine and Cocktails.

The top 10 beverage companies with distribution in the U.S. ranked on 2015 sales are:
The Coca-Cola Co. $44, 294 million; Anheuser-Busch InBev $43,064 million; PepsiCo Inc. $29,636 million; Nestlé SA $24,477 million; Heineken NV $23,391 million; Diageo $22,741 million; Suntory Holdings $22,410 million; SABMiller PLC $22,130 million; Starbucks Corp. $19,200 million; Unilever Group $19,200 million;

After increasing 89% in 2013 and 71% in 2014, hard cider sales rose only 10% in 2015 leading some to theorize the cider craze has peaked.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority created a custom beer brand #WHHSH, a social media hashtag for the city’s famous tagline. The black-labeled beer won’t be sold to the public but will be given away for free at events designed to promote Las Vegas to potential tourists. The beer is brewed by Tenaya Creek Brewery of Las Vegas, a local craft brewer. (Source: Advertising Age, April 11, 2016)

The global beer market is expected to hit $688.4 billion by 2020. The international beer market has been shaken up by beer’s increasing popularity in China. Four of the 10 top-selling beers worldwide are Chinese. The top 10 beer brands internationally and their market shares are: Snow (5.4%), Tsingtao (2.8%), Bud Light (2.5%), Budweiser (2.3%), Skol (2.1%), Yanjing (1.9%), Heineken (1.5%), Harbin (1.5%), Brahma (1.5%), and Coors Light (1.3%). (Source: Business Insider, May 9, 2016)

A survey of craft beer drinkers found they are more interested in healthy habits such as exercising, watching their weight, and drinking alcohol only occasionally than other monthly drinkers. Sixty percent of Millennial craft beer drinkers say they only drink alcohol on weekends and 44% observe periods of not drinking at all to maintain their health. Given the healthy focus of many craft beer drinkers, brewers are encouraged to be transparent when it comes to nutrition labeling which 78% of craft beer drinkers say are important to read when buying food and beverages. (Source: Brewbound, June 10, 2016)

A new study delves into the habits of craft beer drinkers at point of purchase. Almost 60% have used their smartphone to help decide what beer to choose off the shelf while 74% have used their mobile device to read up on beer before going to the store. Among craft beer drinkers, 72% say they are more likely to try a new beer if they can read information about it. Those who are searching for information about a brand while standing in front of the shelf are looking for reviews about one-third of the time. Craft beer drinks who use their mobile phone in-store would like to be offered rebates or coupons (75%), information about pricing (65%), brand specific information (52%), and retail locations that carry specific brands (51%) or have it in-stock (49%). (Source: Adweek, June 19, 2016)

A federal judge refused to block a San Francisco ordinance that requires warning labels on outdoor advertisements for soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages. The new rule will take effect on July 25. The warning must appear on posters and billboards and say “WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco.” (Source: Law360, May 17, 2016)

The City of Philadelphia approved a tax that would raise the price of a soft drink – both sugar-added and artificially sweetened – by 18 cents per can. The tax will be used to help pay for pre-kindergarten and other popular services. At 1.5 cents per ounce, the proposed tax levy is 50% higher than the assessment in Berkeley, California, the first city to impose such a measure. A recent poll found that 59% of Philadelphians backed the sugary drink tax which has been endorsed by the Philadelphia Inquirer. (Source: The Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2016; CNN Money, June 16, 2016)


In the past 15 years, per capita consumption of bottled water has increased 120% from 16.7 gallons in 2000 to 36.7 gallons in 2015. During the same time, the combined volume of all other liquid refreshment beverages decreased from 95.7 gallons per person to 80.1 gallons, a 16.3% decline. An analysis estimates that by choosing bottled water over other drinks, an average individual consumed 24,000 to 27,000 fewer calories in 2015 than a typical person did in 2000. (Source: Beverage Industry, June 7, 2016)

Coffee houses are reporting increasing demand for more iced espressos and lattes. During the last quarter of 2015, Starbucks reported a 20% increase in iced drinks nationwide following its introduction of a new cold brew coffee. Coffee makers – including Peet’s, Illy, High Brew, La Colombe, and Chameleon Cold-Brew – are pushing to get more high-end, low-calorie, less-sugary cold brews and lattes onto store shelves. The U.S. ready-to-drink coffee market has been growing by double-digits annually since 2011 and is expected to reach nearly $3.6 billion by 2020. (Source: Bloomberg, May 23, 2016)

Consumers have begun to realize how much sugar sports drinks contain – over 50 grams per 32-ounce bottle, much more than the average person needs. In response, sports drinks are offering lower- and no-calorie versions. Sports drinks are also being tailored to meet specific needs such as a high-sugar version for athletes needing energy, carb-heavy versions for athletes needing endurance, and low-calorie options for simple hydration needs. In addition, Gatorade and Powerade have eliminated brominated vegetable oil from their ingredient lists in response to an online campaign begun by a 15-year old. The next phase of sports drinks appears to be meeting individual nutritional needs. Gatorade is testing small pods of liquid formulated to individual needs as determined by Gatorade’s sweat patch. The pods snap into bottles of Gatorade to deliver the necessary nutrients. (Source: Business Insider, March 26, 2016)

Overall, revenue for the U.S. distilled spirits category grew 4.1% in 2015 while volume was up 2%. The gap between dollars and cases is expected to widen as more drinkers opt for premium and superpremium drinks. Among sub-segments, Irish whiskey had the strongest growth rate at 16.1% followed by single malt Scotch whiskey at 13%, blended whiskey at 8.8%, tequila at 7.4%, and brandy and cognac at 7.2%. Sub-segments with declining growth include cordials at -1.9%, gin at -1.8%, and rum at -1.5%. (Source: Beverage World, May 2016)

Juice sales have stagnated in recent years due to increasing competition from other healthy drink categories, heightened concerns about the calorie and sugar content in juice, and growing aversion to artificial ingredients. (Source: Beverage World, May 2016)

A new survey finds that Americans’ favorite place to drink wine is at home with 47% of Millennials and 61% of Gen X and Baby Boomers preferring it over social gatherings, restaurants, or wineries. This preference could be part of a wider movement towards “hometainment” or socializing at home to save money. The same survey found that bars are the least popular place to drink wine with only 3% choosing it as their favorite. (Source: Business Insider, May 3, 2016)

And from the “Only in America” file:

New Belgium Brewing is teaming up with Ben & Jerry’s to offer another ice cream-inspired ale. The Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale will roll out this fall. The two companies previously released Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale. Proceeds up to $50,000 from the sales of the new offering will benefit Protect Our Winters which is a non-profit focused on climate change. (Source: Fox31 in Denver, June 20, 2016)

Carlsberg created a chocolate bar – a drinking establishment made entirely out of chocolate – outside of the Old Truman Brewery in London as part of the ongoing “If Carlsberg Did” campaign. Initially the bar was disguised as a billboard in the shape of a giant candy bar which was unwrapped to reveal the bar which was constructed from 1,000 pounds of chocolate. Measuring 5 meters wide by three meters high by two meters deep, the bar included bar stools and a television and served half-pints of Carlsberg beer in chocolate glasses. The bar was only in business for half-a-day and the promotion was tied to the Easter holiday. (Source: Adweek, March 24, 2016)


Mastering the Art of Small Talk – Tips for Networkers

Small Talk

From an article by James Adonis for the SMH:

“For those like me who are too shy, too awkward, too bored or too incompetent to engage in small talk, here’s a selection of tips courtesy of Debra Fine from her bestseller, The Fine Art of Small Talk, published a decade ago.

Talk to a stranger: Rather than waiting to be introduced to someone, just walk up to a colleague you haven’t met and start chatting. Make an effort, too, to remember their name and to insert it occasionally into the conversation.

Arm yourself with icebreakers: A few suggestions from the author include:

  • “How did you come up with this idea?”
  • “What do you see as the coming trends in your business?”
  • “What’s the most difficult part of your job?”

She suggests a question should always be prefaced with a statement so that it doesn’t sound too full on. The first bullet point, for example, can begin with “I love your idea”, before leading to an enquiry about it.

Infiltrate a group of people: Fine recommends this can be done by standing close to them and making it obvious you’re listening. Then, and this is the important bit, be cognisant of signs they want you to join them, such as when they start “asking your opinion”. An easy one to miss, that one.

She has many other ideas, many of them useful. Ask open-ended questions (those that can’t be answered with just one word). Ask probing questions (those where you seek to hear more about a particular point). And observe what people are wearing, how they’re acting, where they’re working, and ask questions about that stuff as well.

There’s a theme here, I think. It seems to be linked to the old truism that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason.”
Read more:

Influence Through Great Storytelling Online/Offline – Tips from Aristotle

AristotleSince attending the Content Marketing World Conference in Feb this year I have been thinking a bit about the art and science of ‘storytelling.’  In the last couple of weeks I came across four references to storytelling in my reading and thought they would be valuable to share. My favourite revelation is this one from Aristotle:

Aristotle (Greek Philosopher 384-322BC) said people needed three things to successfully influence: logos (logic), ethos (credibility) and pathos (emotional connection). Emotion is a fast track to the brain, so storytelling is an effective way to create memorable messages.

Business Storytelling

Management Consultant Yamini Naidu says two things matter in business storytelling: The first is how engaging your stories are – that is, do people hang onto every word you say? Can they remember it? Can they repeat it? The second is how purposeful you are – that is, What message do you want your story to contain?

Most people (90 per cent) in business use the “reporter” (logos) style, because that’s the behaviour that is reinforced, but contemporary research suggests ethos, followed by pathos, is more important. Logic informs, but it doesn’t influence and change behaviour. If it did,nobody would smoke or speed and we’d eat right and exercise.

Here is how Naidu described the four main types of storytellers in business:
Avoiders – low inengagement and low in purpose.These people either don’t tell stories, or they tell the wrong kinds of stories – usually about “the good old days”, or war stories, and they’re the person you want to avoid when you’re in a hurry.
Jokers – highly engaging but low on purpose. These people have lots of funny stories; they’re life of party at work, but they miss an opportunity to convey a message with their stories.
Reporters – lots of purpose but low on engagement. These people are really purposeful with their stories; they have absolute clarity on what message they want to tell. But they’re using a lot of data, stats, facts and figures, so they’re low on engagement
Inspirers – highly engaging and highly purposeful. Inspirers, are “not rah-rah evangelical hyped-up storytellers, but people who connect authentically, and are able to influence action.

Storytelling To Get In The Press

Amber Daines has written a book called “Well Spun – Big PR and Social Media Ideas for Small Business.” In a story in the Sydney Morning Herald where she gives tips about how to get your story in the press, she talks about the importance of understanding what is a newsworthy story. That means, making sure your story emphasises the ‘new’, the ‘big deal factors’ such as ‘how is this changing lives?’ or ‘how much money will this save them?’ and aligning your story to relevant cyclical events.

Storytelling to Get Sales

In a recent Sydney Morning Herald story on the resurgence of people making handmade goods and finding a market online, Anna Blandford, a successful seller says she likes knowing the personal story of the creators of the handmade products she buys for herself. She says when you buy at a shopping centre, there is no personal connection.

Angela D’Alton the community manager for Etsy says people have always yearned to have a connection with those they trade with and the web has ultimately broadened the boundaries of the traditional town market. “Its the personal stories shared online that are bringing us back in touch.”

Here are some of tips provided for making a handcraft business work and which include elements of storytelling:
* Share your personal story – online buyers love to know a bit about you, so spend time writing the page about yourself and the things that inspire your work.
* Good photographs are essential  -A picture’s worth a thousand words, so you can tell a story without using words.
* The descriptions of your products can also improve your sales: make your descriptions appeal to the senses (What does it feel like? What does it smell like?) Here again  is Aristotles’ ‘pathos’ for influence.

Story Telling to Attract a Listening Audience

Here are some thoughts from John Paul Media’s Blog:
If you can master the art of storytelling on the radio, you’ll probably always have a job  and a huge audience. People want to hear stories, not reports. Stories don’t have to be long winded. You can tell a story in just a few lines and still be riveting, but it takes practice and a plan. Here are a few storytelling tips that I’ve learned along the way:

  • Stories are not reports
  • The subjects are about common and relatable life events
  • Have moments of genuine humor
  • Are delivered one-on-one and allow for interactivity
  • Are rehearsed so they have maximum impact when told
  • The listener should think of you as a friend. The best way to do this is to open up and share personal stories, experiences and opinions with your listener.
  • Don’t be afraid to make fun of yourself. Self-deprecation is not only relatable, but endearing.
  • Good story telling not only has the ability to make you stand out and be remembered, but it also can help you feel better