Foodie culture is on fire — and epicures of all ages are fanning the flames. A whopping 50% of millennials refer to themselves as “foodies,” and more than 75% would prefer to spend money on experiences than on material things. But the appetite for experiences goes beyond the millennial crowd: 90% of baby boomers believe that experiences lead to a more fulfilling life, and they attend an average of 3.3 food and drink events every year.
This behavior, coupled with that of their millennial counterparts, has resulted in a cross-generational boom for the food and drink event industry.
This surge in food and drink events means fierce competition for organizers. Whether you’re hosting a small pop-up dinner or a massive food festival, you’ll need to fight for attendees’ attention — or risk serving an empty table. To survive in today’s saturated market, you need to know how to reach your target audience, wow them with a flawless event experience, and keep them engaged all year long.
Use these tips to get more foodies in the door — and give them an event experience that will leave them hungry for more.
Spread the Word on Social
When it comes to promoting your event or festival, few channels are as powerful as social media. In fact, one fifth of traffic to ticketing and registration pages comes from social media. And next to word of mouth, social media is the leading way festival attendees learn about food, wine, or beer festivals they’d like to attend.
Create a custom hashtag for your event to boost online conversation around your event. At the event, encourage attendees to snap Instagram shots and videos by setting up photo opportunities onsite. Provide incentives for using your hashtag in posts, such as a chance to win free tickets to another upcoming event.
Partnerships are a key ingredient of many successful food and drink events. They can help you extend your reach to new audiences and give your event a unique spin. Find a partner that complements your event’s style (or brings something new to the table). From there, look for potential partners who have a large following and can help you grow your own!
Let Your Guests Mix and Mingle with the Makers
Nearly half (48%) of food and drink event attendees would be more likely to attend a popup dining experience or special food and drink event if they could meet, interact, or hear from the chef or artisan. A similar percentage of food, wine, or beer festival attendees claim meeting the producers of the product such as winemakers, brewers, or chefs is one of the reasons they attend.
If you’re organizing an intimate dinner, have your chef intro your dishes. As Chef Jenny Dorsey of the popular underground supper club I Forgot It’s Wednesday recommends: “make sure someone, ideally the chef, is introducing the dishes. People appreciate the food and have much stronger feelings towards it when they know the story behind the dish.”
Make it Exclusive
Over one in three (39%) of food and drink event attendees would be more likely to attend a pop-up dining experience or special food and drink event if it was exclusive or “secret.” Instead of hosting one larger dinner, consider hosting a series of very intimate gatherings to build a reputation for an exclusive dining experience.
The more exclusive, the more special event-goers feel.
Hybridize Your Event
Hybrid events help broaden your appeal to new audiences and increase buzz with one-of-a-kind experiences. As an example, you could consider integrating musical entertainment into your event. For food and drink festival attendees, more than half agree they would be more likely to go to a food, wine, or beer festival if music were a part of the experience.
Follow Up With Attendees
75% of food and drink festival attendees are likely to post pictures of their favorite moments of the event during or after a festival. And after attending a memorable pop-up dining experiences or special food and drink event, more than one in three (35%) would be likely to post positive reviews.
Guests chatting about your event creates an organic opportunity to gain free media and to start building awareness among new attendees for your next event. Over half of food and drink festival-goers say that they feel like they’ve missed out when they see photos of friends at a food, wine, or beer festival nearby.
Reward attendees for sharing a post or writing a positive review about your event. Rewards could include swag from the event, such as a bottle of wine, or a discount code for your next event.