10 Food Marketing Tips for Destinations

Updated: November 18, 2021

Food is a heavily craved topic on social media. We are ready to dish on ways destination marketers can make mouths water with content. Here are 10 food marketing tips for destinations.

1. Use exceptional imagery

Feast your eyes on your destination! Do not compromise on the quality of imagery when it comes to promoting food. While you can certainly hire a professional photographer, or scour the internet for UGC, here are some essential tips for capturing delicious looking photos on your smartphone:

    1. Take the picture before you start eating, and arrange food neatly.
    2. Use natural lighting whenever possible.
    3. Use neutral tones in the background.
    4. Adjust the exposure on your phone.
    5. Try different and creative angles.
    6. Now and then, add a human element (i.e., a hand holding onto a fork, a video of someone taking a bite, etc.)
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A post shared by Visit Winona (@visitwinona)

2. Find out what people like

Constantly featuring your favorite place to dine is not the best strategy for promoting food in your destination. You may not enjoy the local coney dog joint, but it could be one of the most popular dining places.

It’s amazing what you can discover by simply asking people where they enjoy eating. Here are a couple of ways you can discover hidden gems in your area:

    1. Casually ask locals, friends, and family where they like to dine. You may learn about unique dishes or kitchen secrets!
    2. Review Google Analytics and social media insights to see the most popular food-related landing pages, blogs, and posts.
    3. Check out your destination’s restaurants on TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google reviews.
    4. Ask your social media audience to tell you their favorite restaurants, burgers, pizzas, and desserts in the area.

Step outside your comfort zone and be a tourist within your destination. If you have never eaten at a local hotspot (i.e., the coney dog restaurant), maybe it’s time you give it a try.

3. Use hunger-inducing language

Have you ever written a blog about food and realized the word “delicious” was used more than a couple times? There are so many words to excite the tastebuds, so don’t let them go to waste! Here’s a list of words used to describe food:

Airy, a la carte, a la mode, appetizing, aromatic, battered, bite-sized, bold, bountiful, bursting, cakey, candied, caramelized, charred, cheesy, chewy, chilled, comfort food, creamy, crispy, crumbly, crunchy, cuisine, dash, decadent, delectable, delicious, doughy, drenched, dripping, drizzled, dusted, earthy, edible, effervescent, enjoyable, enticing, exquisite, fatty, finger-licking good, fiery, flavorful, fragrant, fresh, fried, frosty, full-bodied, garnish, glazed, gooey, gourmet, gratifying, greasy, hand-held, healthy, hearty, heavenly, hot, imaginative, infused, intense, inviting, juicy, layered, lemony, light, lip-smacking, luscious, marinated, marvelous, mellow, melting, messy, morsel, mouthwatering, nom nom nom, nourishing, nutritious, oozing, organic, outstanding, packed, peppery, Pinterest-worthy, pleasant, plump, potent, puffy, rare, raw, refreshing, rib-sticking, rich, ripe, roasted, robust, salty, saturated, savory, scented, seasonal, seasoned, simmering, sizzling, smoky, smooth, spicy, sprinkled, stewed, succulent, sugary, sweet, tantalizing, tart, tastebuds, tasty, tempting, titillating, velvety, vivacious, warm, yummy, zesty, zestful, zippy!

4. Give people an insider’s look

Food can be pretty mysterious, and that is why there are endless cooking shows and food-related channels dedicated to unveiling the kitchen’s secrets. Here are ways video can give an insider’s look at food within your destination:

  • Challenge: There is a local cuisine that takes a bit of know-how to consume. Use video to teach visitors how to eat like a local.
    • Solution: How to Eat a Crawfish: 
  • Challenge: Unique flavors may surprise and spike the curiosity of visitors. Use this to your advantage and create stylish recipe videos for dishes specific to your destination’s culture.
    • Solution: Louisiana Recipe Videos:
  • Challenge: Some types of food are consumed so quickly that we rarely think about making them. Find artisanal goods within your destination, and ask the creators if you can film their process!
    • Solution: Go Ice Cream!: How It’s Made in Ypsilanti, Michigan

Due to the nature of these videos, they are not always inspiring overnight stays. Be diligent and link video content to landing pages on your website. Convert viewers into visitors!

5. Design for mobile

Pay attention to mobile friendliness when promoting food. This means, try to use vertical images of food wherever possible. Take a look at restaurant listings and blogs on your smartphone, and evaluate their effectiveness. Is your call to action clear? Is the imagery hunger-inducing? See how you can beef up these pages to make your message stronger.

Lastly, Google your destination from your mobile device. Try searching “Where to eat in ______” to see if your content comes up. If not, it’s time to start thinking about optimizing some landing pages, blogs, and/or campaigns to get on Google’s radar!

6. Have a hashtag strategy

Make sure your audience highlights their foodie experiences while using your hashtag! To do this, you must aggressively promote your hashtag within your restaurants and food-related attractions. Here are some ideas:

    1. Encourage your restaurant partners to use your hashtag.
    2. Have signage within restaurants with your hashtag.
    3. Provide restaurants/bars with napkins or coasters with your hashtag.
    4. Include your hashtag on the dining pages in your visitor guide.
    5. Read this blog for more tips on growing your hashtag.

The only way to grow a hashtag is to show a hashtag! Put it out there as much as you can!

7. Leverage UGC

Having a hashtag strategy will help encourage food photography, which generates User Generated Content (UGC)!

We asked the UGC experts at CrowdRiff to give us their thoughts on promoting food within a destination.

8. Promote food on Pinterest

Food is one of the most popular content pillars on Pinterest, in addition to travel. This is a match made in heaven for destination marketers who have an exciting foodie scene to promote. First of all, make sure you have a board dedicated to food within your destination. The key is to populate this board with beautiful imagery that links back to relevant content on your website. (REPEAT: LINKS BACK TO YOUR WEBSITE.)

Take it a step further and create blog-related content about food that speaks to a Pinterest audience. For example: “10 Amazing Dishes to Experience in Our Destination”, “5 Instagram Worthy Restaurants in Our Destination”, or “8 Reasons Why Our Destination is a Foodie’s Paradise”. Once you have this content, create pinnable images for your boards.

9. Run an ad campaign

Especially an ad campaign promoting restaurant week! Many of us think of a restaurant week as a way to award locals.

On the contrary, some of our recent restaurant week data has shown 300% to 500% higher consumer engagement on a DMO’s website than other niche campaigns in similar periods. Also, food and drink-related interests drove conversion data supporting visitation and additional queries – supporting the theory that travelers like food and food inspired travel. Even if your destination does not host a restaurant week, support content about dining with paid promotions!

10. Educate partners

There is so much to highlight within a destination, and it’s no wonder that it can feel impossible to capture it all. One way to overcome this is to educate your partners on ways they can market themselves.

Teach your partners to help you tell their stories. Here are some ways you can enhance the type of content that your partners produce.

    1. Host partner education workshops specifically for restaurants.
    2. Encourage partners to share content (photos, videos, blogs) with you regularly.
    3. Encourage local restaurants to use your hashtag.
    4. Teach restaurant partners how to use Instagram and Pinterest.
    5. Share tips with them on how to take great food photos.

If you have more ideas on ways to destination marketers could promote food, share them with us on Facebook and Twitter!