My poster presentation focused on the topic: Food in Tourism Advertising. I began by asking the listeners where they have traveled in the past 5 years and if they had some authentic cultural food that could not necessary be found here.
In January, my family and I went to Tokyo Japan and before that, we were exploring our options whether we wanted to take a tour, or go by ourselves. So we visited a number of traveling agencies and what I noticed while I was there, was a lack of food in the advertising. Now we are very fortunate that Toronto is so multicultural, that that we do have Italian food, Greek food, Korean food and Japanese food, but it is safe to say that when you are eating here, there isn’t the quality of authenticity that you can get if you were to eat the food from where it originated. Being such a huge fan of Japanese cuisine, I wanted to know what kinds of awesome food I will be eating on my trip, and not just eating at a random restaurant depending on wherever we’re going. So obviously, I want to eat the best sushi, the best ramen and the best Japanese dishes but judging by the pamphlets and ads I saw, I would not know if I would be getting that. That was a huge reason why we didn’t go with the tour because we didn’t want to take the chance, so we decided to navigate Japan by ourselves even though we had to do a lot more work and research, it was worth it. And in the end, that agency lost a potential client because of something so simple.
Because of what I saw, I really wanted to know: what are the top reasons people want to travel to a country. I asked 80 people in total and for first batch of surveys, the first word cloud features the keywords people used in their reasoning. After re-cateogrizing and combining it with the second batch, the reasons people said include:
Shopping, sightseeing, relaxation, architecture, returning home, food, culture and never been there before.
But the top three reasons why people want to travel to a country by order is:
Never being there before, the food and returning home where they were from.
Food being the second most popular reason intrigued me because of what I saw from my experience. So I went to a couple malls and more travelling agencies and still noticed there was little to no mentions of food in any of the advertising. Not only the pamphlets, the backdrops, the posters in store, but also their website itineraries had the tiniest section that talks about the food you will be enjoying on your trip and it was the most general statement like “you will be eating some of the city’s best Chinese food”. Which is basically telling me nothing at all. So I really wanted to know why there was a lack of food in tourism advertising. And two representatives of two different travelling agencies reply with the following: “Food is not considered as an attraction, so it appears less in our advertising”, and “It’s more of a necessity, you have to eat when you travel”. While I do agree it is a necessity, I don’t believe that it should be ignored.
I proceeded by asking the crowd judging by the mock advertisement I created for the middle, if they had the money, the time, and the opportunity to go Japan, would they? Majority of them replied with yes. I then asked if they would love to try some shabu shabu and sushi go round while they are there and they didn’t know what I was talking about. After briefly explaining and showing them what these two Japanese dishes were, the I was trying to make was that simple changes in tourism advertising can ultimately affect a person’s traveling decisions. Knowing what it was, they were even more interested in visiting the country.
By incorporating food in the advertising, it can interest, intrigue and influence. Before I started the presentation, I gave out cookies – but not just to be nice. I believe people were more inclined to come and listen to me ramble because they saw and ate these delicious cookies. I gave them out strategically to as an advertisement for my presentation.I concluded my presentation by reminding people food is more than something that fills our appetite. It can enhance our experiences, making it more memorable and emotional. So for everyone that really want a full culinary experience when traveling, they need to make sure they know what that is exactly what they will be getting. I remember when I went on a Korean tour in 09, the first night we were there in Korea, we ate Chinese food. I’m not trying to say that traveling agencies are evil, the point I’m making is that very simple changes that people don’t often consider is relevant, can be influential. When you are advertising a product or service to the consumer, make sure you know your consumer really want. From my findings, I believe that food is one of the top reasons why someone visits a country, so they can try different traditional dishes they may not be able to try at home, which is why there should be more emphasis and priority in the tourism advertisement.
All in all, the poster presentation session
Feedback, Questions and My Responses:
– a lot of people I spoke to agreed and was surprised by my findings
– food was always important to them, but they never thought it will be neglected in advertising like this
– people thought the poster was easy to understand
– they loved the cookies social experiment!
Q. Why is this important to me? Why does it matter to me?
This may not immediate apply to you, but if you plan on travelling somewhere in the future, this is just something to be aware of. But if you don’t plan on leaving this country ever then I guess it doesn’t apply to you.
Q. What was your demographic?
The demographic of the participants were mainly Asians because it was from my previous research for another question. But in all honestly, I don’t believe the race matters. Like TourEast said, it is a necessity, do you not want the best food you can get? Furthermore, the people I got to talk were a variety of different races (not Asian) and they all agree the importance of food during travel.
Q. Well you can just google and research these things?
Whole point of going to a travelling agency is not having to do any of the work. You pay them to do all the planning for you. I believe if you are paying 3,000 for a trip, you best believe you should be doing the absolute least work!