Inside The First Global Food Tourism Conference & What’s Next

Inside The First Global Food Tourism Conference & What’s Next

Back in October, we held our very first Global Food Tourism Conference (GFTC), which was a big step forward in Food Tour Pros’ involvement and facilitation of learning in our booming industry. For years we’ve brought in Food Tour Operators and future operators to teach and learn in-house, but the GFTC was a first step in our shift towards global engagement and peer-to-peer learning.

To our great delight, the feedback we got was even better than we expected; in fact it was momentous! Right now we have some big things in the works focused on sustaining the learning and engaging long-term, but more on that in a few months. For now let’s look back at what we learned from the first GFTC and what we have to look forward to in the future.

In planning the first GFTC, we set fourth four principals and benefits of the conference to guide us along the way. Our goal was to help those in our industry with the following principles: Network, Learn, Savor and Celebrate. In the end we did it all…

We Networked.

We’ve been running our own online, collaborative forum for the past few years among our Food Tour Pros global client base, but we’ve never held an event that got everyone in the same room interacting, or brought non-clients into the conversation. At GFTC we reached our goal to facilitate networking with Food Tour owners, managers and leaders from across the world. We had representatives from Europe talking with groups from the States, and everywhere in between. Everyone had an opportunity to reach out in a way they never had before. The idea was to get all the people in the Food Tourism industry working together, and we definitely achieved that. Many walked away with new relationships, friends and support in the our culinary tourism space. The below short video gives you a sense of what it was like when everyone got talking!

We Learned.

We learned from our presenters, our guests and from one another. Whether it was on-stage or during drinks at the end of the day, conversation was flowing the entire time at GFTC. We had a variety of speakers covering topics on business, marketing, press, search engine optimization and much, much more. Attendees left the GFTC with some refreshers on some of what they already knew, but ultimately left with new ideas, excitement, knowledge and insights to strengthen their business practices. Below is a quick summary in photo form of some of the topics we covered during the conference.


In addition to playing host and facilitator, Food Tour Pros CEO Shane Kost addressed the current state and future of international Food Tourism.


Managing Employee & Business Growth Talk: During her talk Angela Shen, Owner of Savor Seattle, shared specific action items for each stage of business growth.


Increasing Sales with Successful Online & Media Presence: Joe Martin of Martin Creative and Tour & Event Websites talked about how Food Tours can get the most out of their websites.


Increasing Sales with Successful Online & Media Presence: Akila McConnell, Owner of Atlanta Food Walks and a journalist/blogger herself, talked about best practices for working with the press to gain coverage.


Increasing Sales with Successful Online & Media Presence: Frederik Nissen and Ismael Ulvik, Co-Founders of Local Montreal, stunned the crowd with their impressive SEO results and shared tips on how to apply their tactics.


Integrating Wine, Beer & Spirits Panel: Alanna Rogers, Owner of Tru Bahamian Tours, spoke on adding spirits, beer and wine with purpose to Food Tours.


Integrating Wine, Beer & Spirits Panel: Mikol Hoffman, Operations Director at Flavors of San Juan, talked about the benefits and lessons learned when it comes to incorporating spirits in a Food Tourism business.


Integrating Wine, Beer & Spirits Panel: Bruce White, Owner of Chicago Beer Experience, talked about how to integrate beer and food together.


Growing Your Business Beyond Single Products and Markets Talk: Kenny Dunn, Founder of Eating Europe, talked about how to take a small one tour business and expand to multiple cities and products.


Effects of Culinary Tourism on Local Establishments and Communities Talk: Owner of HotChocolate and writer of the book Cookie Love, Mindy Segal talked about how food and tourism can help bring local communities of people together.

See what all the speakers and attendees had to say in our video!

We Savored.

An important aspect to the conference was bringing in the element that binds us all together; a love of food and culinary experiences. We didn’t want this to be your average conference; we wanted it to actually incorporate what we all do. Throughout the day attendees experienced local Chicago foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We plan to do this for every future conference no matter where it’s held. Just check out some of the Instagram posts of all the food from our GFTC attendees!


We Celebrated!

Perhaps the best part of it all, we definitely succeeded in celebrating every aspect of the GFTC by raising a glass, enjoying Chicago entertainment with a private Second City performance and meeting new, long-lasting friends along the way. Plus since most of our speakers were once tour guides themselves, everybody was extremely poised and entertaining too!



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At the end of the conference someone pulled out a selfie stick and we got all 80+ Food Tour owners, colleagues, managers, etc. in one GIANT group photo!

So what’s the next logical step? We do it again next year.

When we decided to launch the Global Food Tourism Conference, we weren’t sure what the feedback would be, or if we could even get 40 people to attend. As it turned out, we more than doubled our expectations. When the GFTC 2015, we receiving feedback including “You better do this next year…or else!” Well, that’s exactly what we’re doing. Next year’s conference is already in the works. Expect a new city, new talks and new speakers next year. We can’t wait until we can share all the details with you. We hope to expand GFTC even bigger, and continue to strengthen and grow our industry together A special thank you for all the attendees that have made doing this a possibility!

In the meantime, be sure to keep up with Food Tour Pros via on social media for all the latest and greatest regarding the Food Tourism industry and the Global Food Tourism Conference.




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