10 Food Marketing Tips for Destinations

Food is a heavily craved topic on social media. We are ready to dish on ways destination marketers can make mouths water with content!

1. Use exceptional imagery

Feast your eyes on your destination! Do not compromise on the quality of imagery when it comes to promoting food.

First of all, be sure to remember the golden rule:

Never eat a meal at a local restaurant in your destination without taking a photo of it first.

While you can certainly hire a professional photographer, or scour the internet for UGC, here are some basic tips for capturing delicious looking photos on your smartphone:

    1. Take the photo 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. Add a human element every now and then (i.e. a hand holding onto a fork, a video of someone taking a bite, etc.)

Sure, sometimes it’s embarrassing to be “that person”. Arranging a photoshoot while you are out for dinner can draw some attention. Ultimately, you gotta do what you gotta do!

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 places to dine. (Coney dog analogy is based on a true story.)

It’s amazing what you can discover by simply asking people where they enjoy eating. Here are a couple 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 what food-related landing pages, blogs, and posts are most popular.
    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 in 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. Plus, calories don’t count if they’re technically consumed for “research”, right?

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 quite mysterious. That is why there are endless cooking shows and food-related channels dedicated to unveiling the secrets of the kitchen. 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.
  • Challenge: Unique flavors may surprise and spike the curiosity of visitors. Use this to your advantage and create stylish recipe videos for dishes that are specific to the culture of your destination.
  • Challenge: Some types of food are consumed so quickly, we rarely think about how they are made. Find artisanal goods within your destination, and ask the creators if you can film their process!

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

Did you know that 72% of food and beverage searches now originate on mobile devices?

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. Are your call to actions 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.

“Food has a tendency to go viral on social media (think “cookie dough ice cream” or “cronuts”!). People get so excited when they can anticipate their own experience through the eyes of someone like them. Showing the authentic food photos others have taken can really help feed the hype around the best eats in your destination, and show soon-to-be visitors the many ways people are already enjoying their time there. What’s more, because there are simply so many photos and videos of food out there, you’ll have no problem finding amazing imagery for even the smallest eateries in your destination!” – Elizabeth Ching, CrowdRiff Content Marketing Manager

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 pinable images for your boards.

We have a lot of thoughts on Pinterest, which is why we created a blog about it. Read our interview with a rep from Pinterest on reasons the travel industry should take this tool seriously!

P.S. It’s unnecessary to pin recipes unless it’s original content. Just saying…

9. Run an ad campaign

…Especially an ad campaign promoting restaurant week! Many of us think of a restaurant week 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 time periods. Also, food and drink related interests drove conversion data supporting visitation and additional queries – supporting the theory that travelers like food and food inspires 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. 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 story. Here are some ways you can enhance the type of content that is produced by your partners.

    1. Host partner education workshops specifically for restaurants.
    2. Encourage partners to share content (photos, videos, blogs) with you on a regular basis.
    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.

The stronger your partners are, the stronger you will be. Get them suited up for success!

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