Food will play a bigger role in travel as millennials quest for extraordinary culinary experiences and rediscover new eating trends in their own countries, according to Jean-Michel Petit, co-founder and CEO of social dining platform Eatwith.
Extraordinary food experiences are about preserving the social aspects of eating and seeing food as a communal experience so that the original social network is the table, not Facebook or Instagram, he explained at the recent ITB Asia.
Petit believes in the future of smaller and local food experiences; authentic sources of food ingredients from tradition, nature and local sources; close interaction also with food producers and “not the anonymous way” of experiencing food; and personalisation as people want experiences that match their expectations and aspirations.
Saying that “food is always a great travel motivator,” Petit cited recent polls showing that 81 per cent of the people ranked food and restaurant experiences as first motivation for travel, just above family and friends at 79 per cent. Moreover, 25 per cent of global tourism spending is one way or another related to food.
As tour operators and hotels look “to create activities through and around gastronomy” to meet millennials’ food expectations during vacation, Petit categorised gastronomy tourists as those who prefer to eat like a local; those visiting restaurants and private places serving innovative food; those whose main motivation in modern food tourism is for socialisation and real interaction; and those moving away from beaten tracks to discover new gastronomic paths on their own.