What is FOOD TOURISM? Learn with Eric Wolf | TBCY

What is FOOD TOURISM? Learn with Eric Wolf | TBCY

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Welcome to another episode of The Brand Called  You. A vodcast and podcast show that brings   you leadership lessons, knowledge, experience and  wisdom from hundreds of successful individuals   from around the world. I am your host Ashutosh  Garg and today I'm in conversation with a very   very accomplished and senior professional from  food and travel, Eric Wolf. Eric, welcome to the   show. Hi, nice to be here. Thank you. Eric currently lives in Spain. So I'm sure   that is a great place to be in. Eric is the Executive Director of the World   Food Travel Association. He is recognized as  the Founder of the Modern Food Tourism industry  

and he's a publisher of Have Fork Will Travel, is this a magazine or a book? It's actually   a handbook for the trade to help everyone in all  different sectors across the trade to understand   how to do business better within our industry.  Terrific. So Eric, let's talk about the World Food   Travel Association, tell me about the scope of work  you handle? Sure. Well, I founded the organization   back in 2001 and grew it from nothing, no members, no people, no products   to an organization today that serves about 200,000 professionals in over 150 countries each year   and we have five different portfolios. We've  got events, community, placemaking just as   those are our most popular ones and we really do a  lot. We bring education to the industry,   we bring cutting edge research to the industry, we  provide a sense of community where professionals   can gather and meet each other and exchange  ideas and knowledge and we really try to drive   thought, leadership and innovation in our industry.  So that's kind of it in a nutshell. Wonderful. So   for our viewers and listeners, help me understand  what is food travel or food tourism? That's   a great question. A lot of people have that same  question and in some parts of the world it's known  

as culinary tourism or gastronomy tourism. In India,  typically it's known as food tourism but in Canada   it's Culinary Tourism, in Southern Europe   it tends to be gastronomy tourism. It's basically  traveling for a taste of place in order to get   a sense of place. So, from the research  that we've done that 53% of leisure travelers now   choose their destinations based on the food  first. So before sites, before visiting friends and  

relatives, before shopping or activities, it's food.  So where are we going to get good food and   then we can also do these other things and that's  over half of travelers today. Very interesting. When we travel with our sons who are  now 36 and 33, that's exactly our experience.   They first book where they want to go and eat and  my wife and I first book what we want to see. 

So you're a perfect example of a consummate food  traveler. Well said. So what are the issues   that you face with the food and  drink tourism other than the pandemic and   we come to that? Well, the pandemic is its  own beast but I think that in the early days   we were always beating our drums to help  destinations, business owners, and even   consumers to understand that local  areas destinations have something unique in   in the form of their local food culture or  culinary culture we call it and we have always   been working with them to try and understand  how to preserve and promote those food cultures.   And that is something that continues today.  You have new people who come to the industry   people may be destinations or businesses that are  shifting and trying to understand how to do   more with their businesses but now that things are  changing in the industry and all industries we see   sustainability is a huge issue that is affecting  our industry. Also the socio-cultural impact of   tourism. So things like over-tourism or travelers  who are bringing their values their preferences, so  

people don't stop being vegan or gluten-free when  they're on holiday and those things like special   diets are essential now. And the world I think and  travelers are moving a lot faster than businesses   and destinations can adapt and it's almost  like you have to have a marketing plan and a   strategy but you almost have to keep it updated  on a weekly basis because things change so fast.   Amazing and a follow-up question, how has the  pandemic affected you in the last 18 odd months?   Well affected me personally. It's actually kind  of been great because I've been able to catch up   on work and we've been able to really spend time  on investing in improving some of our systems   and business processes here in the association, so  that has been a bit of a blessing. I always try to   find the positive in something and at the same  time it's really been hugely detrimental   to our industry as, you know, we don't need to  belabor that but I think that we've tried to help our industry to see  that same silver lining in the cloud. When   this whole thing started, we tried to show  business owners what they could do to survive. One of our pieces, we had an  article back in April of last year that was  

basically how to make lemonade out of lemons and  we were saying things like, if you need to   to take another job or if you need to teach your  own language online or whatever it is, it's okay.   You can put your dream, your business,  your baby, you can put it on hold for a while   until things get better and so that has been really primarily our focus for the longest   period of time. We surveyed our members in May of  last year as well as December of last year and   asked them if you had any plans to shut down  your businesses and only about 10% of people we   surveyed really said this is horrendous,  we're closing our doors. We're never coming back  

and that was a lot better than we thought. We  thought it was going to be a lot worse. So it's   been hard and also in the association I mean like any other business revenue has been down,   people are not really willing to  spend money right now and that's okay.   So we have changed a little bit how we do things,  we've expanded our scholarship program for all   of our education and training and tried to be  a good friend to our industry. Fantastic and   when I was reading about you, one of  the comment that struck me was that food helps you to communicate and connect  with people. I'd love to understand this  

maybe if you can share some anecdotes  or examples. Sure, absolutely. Well I think   what you've just described is referred to  as gastro diplomacy and food & beverage can be a   form of communication, you don't need to speak the  language and one of my favorite examples is when   I was in Korea, one of the first times and I don't  speak the language and the people I was with also   didn't speak English and so we were just kind  of left to our own devices, what can we do?   And we were over a dinner table and they  were serving me seared tuna with sesame oil   and it was absolutely delicious and so I just kept  eating it and eating it and eating it and they were kind of laughing and I was laughing and  they knew I was having a good time   and I knew that they were happy and we couldn't  speak any language. So, that's just   one example of how food and drink can tell a  story. I mean, I've always said we should put the   world's leaders in a hotel banquet room and lock  the doors for a week and give them plenty of food   and drink and at the end of the week, we'll either  have world peace or they'll kill each other, we can   start fresh. Absolutely. So, you know, it's amazing  you spoke about your experience in South  

Korea. I had exactly the same experience in South  Korea but my experience was with rice wine   and I just couldn't figure out why they  just kept pouring and I kept finishing it and then   fill it up again and then I realized that  in order to stop, I should have left half my glass.   I had to actually hold the walls of the hotel  and get back to my room. Was that the makgeolli?   I forget the name, it was rice wine. Another  

form of sake I think. Or soju. That's the  one. Very interesting. So, I'd like to understand  from you like what you just shared,   you enjoy recommending unusual experiences.  Help me again understand with some examples.   I have to give a caveat, I don't  always partake in these unusual experiences   but I like learning about them and sharing them  with people. So I've tried the Kopi luwak   coffee from Indonesia which if your listeners  aren't familiar with it. Basically the civet animal   ingests the coffee beans and then the farmers  harvest the beans from what comes out and   and it affects the flavor. I believe that's the  most expensive coffee in the world or something? It   is and I thought it was fine but would I pay that? Probably not. I 

actually prefer Jamaica blue mountain if you want  to talk about spendy coffees but and then a lot of times we like to tell people  when they go to Southeast Asia you have to try   the scorpions and tarantulas but unusual is not  just about the food that's served to you. It   could be about the people, it could be about the  venue, there's a cheese maker in Wales in the UK   that matures their cheese. It's blended on cheese  and they mature at the bottom of a coal mine   and so you have the historic culture because  Wales is was really big into coal mining but   they're still repurposing the mine today and  so it tells a wonderful story and something   that visitors and locals alike can take and  re-tell that story. Wonderful and what would you   say is your most unique food or beverage story?  Oh my gosh! there's so many. I think for me,   the food has been important but it's always  been really about the people too. So you can serve   great food but that's not necessarily the most  memorable experience. I've been to Alain Ducasse

in New York and Central and Lima and those  were great wonderful experiences for the food.   But I would have to say that probably my favorite  dinner I've ever had was with a guy named Sinclair   Phillip in Sioux Harbor British Columbia and we  were visiting Vancouver island and he invited   us to dinner and it was a dinner in the summertime  which is Vancouver island is stunningly   beautiful anyway and he had this wonderful  resort and wonderful kitchen, all these awards   and everything and to have dinner with the owner  of the business and basically, the chef was   bringing out all these things but the conversation  and the wine and before I knew it five and a   half hours had passed, I could see that it  was getting dark outside but it was just such   that it was so lively and the conversation was  so easy and it just flowed from idea to   concept and he was a very entertaining man so  imagine having a beautiful view of the of the   mountains in British Columbia and the ocean  right there in this beautiful setting with amazing   food and a very very funny and intelligent person  and I still remember that meal to this day.   Fabulous. So from another perspective,  your association and the food travel market   you must have got a huge database of  knowledge on food and travel and destinations.   Are you sharing that with people on a  subscription basis or if someone wants to   travel somewhere, how does this whole thing work?  Well, we serve primarily the trade. We are   talking about doing more with consumers, we want to do more about the preservation   of culinary culture and especially when you see  big brands chains coming in and especially after   something like the pandemic where the small  businesses, a lot of them have shut   down. How can we help consumers to understand  that they need to spend their money locally  

but the research that we do, every five  years we do a major report it's called the   Food Travel Monitor and we released it the  last one in January of 2020, then the pandemic   kicked. We updated it with a special covid update  in July and that will carry us through 2025   and I think that we're really expecting some  tremendous changes in this time period because   of generation Z and the Millennials and how really consumers are changing but we also have a   report series called Taste of Place and we do  have one for India that's done. In Indonesia we've   got about 20 reports right now and people  can access those in our member community   members.worldfoodtravel.org. And then every year we  produce the state of the food and beverage tourism,   industry report and that's also free and in  that time period, we interview 12 thought leaders   around the world in our industry food, beverage,  tourism and hospitality we ask them how things   have changed in their sector or in their geography, what is chained and   what do they expect to see in the next 12 months?  And that comes out every January. Very interesting.   So, we just spoke a few minutes about  ago about the way the younger people   really look at where they will eat or where  they will have a drink. In your opinion, what  

should really be done? Should food and beverage  experiences be curated well in advance of the trip?   Well, I think we have to ask the question who's  doing the curating, is it done by a local   or is it done by the traveler themselves or the destination marketing organization too?   I think, this really speaks to the value  of culinary tourist guides and they   have the power to really make a good trip an  outstanding trip and that's why we certify them   as well in our association because they're  such important parts of the visitor equation   but times are changing and consumer tastes  are changing. I mentioned the special diets   and what we're seeing really now that  generation said, travelers are starting to come of   age. They're in their early 20s now but they were traveling right before the pandemic.   But what has really changed in that generation  is we had always been marching towards   people voting with their wallets and if  they don't like businesses policies or   or how they treat people, then people will boycott  it and they just won't spend their money there.  

But now what we're seeing is this idea of  sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion   similar issues as well. People plan a profit trip  bottom line all of that and young consumers   whether you're going to a restaurant or a hotel  or even booking an airline people are doing the   research and they're saying, what's your  policy on this, do women receive equal pay,   do you serve  special diet food? Like can I get vegetarian and   vegan. There was that difficult I remember, we went  to a hotel here in Spain and I did a little   experiment and I said, I'm vegetarian, can  you help me find food here? And then she said, well   yes you can have any of the vegetables  that we have here and they'll just grill them on   the grill right there. I said the same grill that  you're grilling all your meat on and then she kind  

of looked at me and she realized that, you know.  So as travelers change we're demanding these   things and if businesses can't rise to meet those changing consumers needs then they will not   survive. I mentioned before that  well never mind, let's cut that bit out.   So one more question  before I move to the next part. You would have   seen travelers over the years changing. The  Millennials and the Gen Z's today are demanding  

more experiences. People of my generation  are looking more of optimizing the number of   days and getting a blend  of both sightseeing and experiences. How is the   industry, the food industry adapting to  the needs of different people? Because people of   my generation have the money, have the time and  are spending a lot of money   but the Millennials and the Gen Z's are the  future. That's true. I think that   the smart business owners will realize  that those are all their future customers   and that things are changing with the special  diets, the business policies and procedures are   all very important but at the same time you still  have this very large market of older people like   you said, who have the money and the time to travel  and you really have to kind of meet both needs and   I do think that that older people are embracing  to a certain degree of a lot of the changes that   are happening. But what we also see in our  research is that older people tend not to like   to experiment as much with food. So they might  be happier to visit a chain restaurant whereas   a younger person would make every effort to avoid  a chain restaurant and the older people   here it's convenient, let's not spend  all-day walking around the city trying to find   that exactly perfect cafe to have lunch in. This chain is here we'll just have lunch here.  

So before I move to the  personal questions, I do want to also ask you about   your publication Have Fork Will Travel. What do you  cover and what is the frequency? Well, Have Fork Will Travel as I said earlier was the handbook  for the trade and that was a magnum opus. It was   over 50 chapters of every possible sector of  our industry. So we looked at beverage, tourism,   we looked at lodging, we looked at the culinary  destination life cycle, we looked at sustainability,   we looked at so many issues and what we were  trying to do is do a couple things. First of all to innovate because that's one of the things that  we do here at the association and to talk about   things that people really weren't talking about  yet but also to provide something that was really   approachable for everyday business people.  A lot of the books especially on our industry  

are very academic. Lots of research sample sizes  and n equals and correlation analyses and now, go   away with that, not interested, don't understand it.  I've tried, I don't get it, I don't want to get it.   Just put it in everyday basic business language  and so that was our volume one that came   out in 2014 and we are 2013 and we will be having  another volume coming out in 2023. So we're going   to be updating it and again, it'll be the same  kind of approach, what can the next 10 years, what does 2023 to 2033 look like? I think you'll  probably see a lot of emphasis on technology,   a lot on sustainability, a lot on the DEI, diversity equity and inclusion that I talked about   but also we really want to make sure that the  preservation of the colony cultures is spotlighted   to two. Very interesting. So Eric, I'm now going  to move the last segment of our conversation.   Our viewers and listeners love to get to know  the guests a little more, so I have a few questions   for you which I say are questions for you  personally. My first question is what would   you say are three key milestones or pivot points  in your life for your career? That's a   good question. I think, probably the first  one I would say is when I moved to New York city.  

I was living in Washington DC and I graduated from  university and I spent a couple years in DC   and then I got a job in New York and moving to  New York and I call it America's finishing school.   It really is the best of everything  in the United States, it just you know, the way   the people are, the performance that  is expected and I really learned to bring   my 'A' game to everything I do and whether it was social interactions whether it   was in the work environment whether it was just  everyday life, New York demands the best   of everyone and everything and I think that  kind of became ingrained in my culture. So that was   probably the first one and I think  the second one was obviously founding of   the World Food Travel Association. I was working  for a tech company in San Francisco and that was the time of the dot com blowout. I'm sure  you remember that although some of the younger  

listeners won't know what that is but it was a  huge. It sent a huge tremor throughout the   economy basically and I suspected a layoff  and so I moved to Portland Oregon, I requested a transfer to the company's other  office in Portland they said, that's fine. Three   months later got laid off and during that time I wrote a white paper about food tourism and the   benefits and potential for destinations and that  gave rise to the association. So I think that was  

probably the most important milestone  and then I think, the last one really was moving to   Europe which I did three years ago. When you  live in the United States, you have blinders on   and everything is American. You think American,  you talk American, your entertainment is American,   your food is American, everything is just like this.  And when you live in on a continent where you can  

go 200 miles and it's another language, another  culture, another dialect, another food all of that,   another wine varietal, you don't have that in  the States because it's so big and also such   a new country and I think that really moving  here has expanded the potential for both me   personally and the association professionally.  People understand tourism in Europe, they   understand gastronomy in Europe. I think in a way  that is more more in line with what we do here   at the association. Americans are more concerned  about the sustainability and things like that and   special diets and in Europe, it's more  about the culture and the enjoyment of   the food. Very interesting. So Eric, I have  time for two more questions. My next question is on success and my question  is, for someone who's been all over the   world, lived in multiple parts of the world from  technology to food. What does success mean to Eric?   I would have loved to ask a younger  version of myself that question. I think that  

success first and foremost is happiness with  yourself being okay with what you've achieved   and that is the first part of it. I think the  other side of the equation is making a mark   in the world. For me, I couldn't retire or I couldn't leave this mortal coil and not have   done something, I have to leave an impact and so  I'm happy with myself. I'm happy with my life,  my family and where we live and all of that  and I'm happy with the mark that we've been   able to make in the world as the organization.  So I guess by those metrics, that's a success.  

That's my success. Wonderful and my last  question is who or what inspires you? I would have to say that I love thinking about  what is possible, the possibility of achievement.   I love looking at a problem and figuring out a  solution. Sometimes I can just see things   and it just comes to me and I just think wow, this is great,   that has inspired some of the products  that our association has developed as well.  

We were pitching a particular product  10 years ago and investors didn't get it,  business incubators didn't get it and now this  type of product is starting to come to market   10 years later. So maybe I don't know  but also I think smart people inspire me. I love   meeting people who are smart and they give me ideas, we have great conversations   and I feel like I grow as a person when I meet  people who are smarter than me which is everybody.   Fantastic. Eric, thank you so much. It's  been such a pleasure speaking to you.   Thank you for taking me down this amazing  journey of food or amazing travel with food   and amazing stuff that you're doing for the  industry and I'm hoping one day it'll   become a B2C platform where people can actually  reach out to you and say, I'm going to be in this   city where should I go and eat. But thank you again  and good luck. Thank you, Ash. It's been great. It's   really been a pleasure to speak with you and I love all that you do. So thanks so much. Thank you.  

Thank you for listening to The Brand Called You,  videocast and podcast. A platform that brings you   knowledge, experience and wisdom of hundreds of  successful individuals from around the world.   Do visit our website www.tbcy.in to watch and  listen to the stories of many more individuals. You   can also follow us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram  and Twitter, just search for the brand called you.

2021-09-25 06:09

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