After introducing ways in which agents should be ‘keeping it local’ for clients in Italy, TripFuser’s ROBERTA LEVERONE moves onto three sure-fire ways of winning clients over.
Food and wine
As a foodie and sommelier, I identify myself as food and drink-centric and when on the road, I become a culinary tourist. I am not alone. According to Mandala Research, 77% of the 170 million leisure travellers in the U.S. have been classified as culinary tourists – visitors that have participated in food travel activities like destination dining, cooking classes, or food festivals.
The ‘American Culinary Traveler’ report provides a comprehensive portrait of this exploding market and segments these travellers into three groups: Deliberate, Opportunistic, and Accidental Culinary travellers.
Over 39 million leisure travellers are ‘deliberate’ culinary travellers with an additional 35 million who are ‘opportunistic’. Selling a trip to Italy, you simply cannot avoid including some culinary experiences.
Choose the right products – cooking, and eating food while drinking a glass of wine play a central role in the daily activities of Italians from all ages and social backgrounds. This is part of our culture and heritage and this is the best way to get involved in our traditions and socialize with local people. Small producers, proud of their hard work, are keen to share their knowledge and passion for their territory.
What could be a better experience for a wine lover than to take a walk into the vineyards and learn about the difficulty of the harvest whilst sipping a glass of biodynamic wine? Or for a foodie to visit a medieval abbey that has been producing rice since the 14th century and taste a perfectly cooked risotto? Or take an epicurean walk in the Jewish ghetto in Venice with mouthwatering treats from the local street food shops? And for something more interactive, be sure to include a cooking class in granny’s kitchen revealing the secrets of her handmade Sicilian chocolate.
Italy has the largest number of small artisan businesses (around 1,400,000) in Europe. The essence of the successful ‘made in Italy’ brands worldwide lies in the perfect balance between tradition and innovation – difficult to reproduce.
The high quality of the products is the result of attention to detail, passion, knowledge and heritage transmitted down from generation to generation. Italian artisans have strong connections with their own roots and territories, with their own history and traditions and this sense of belonging is a distinctive element that comes to light in a quality product.
There’s no better way to enter in contact with the authentic and local side of Italy other than a visit to an artisan laboratory, to observe them while with patience and professionalism, they create a real work of art.
How can I make my customer’s visit in Italy memorable? What about including a first-hand experience in a local craftsman workshop?
There are many possibilities for a real hands-on experience. Travellers will have the opportunity to live, learn and get involved in the everyday life of Italian master artisans. You can propose a visit to a gold leaf gilder in Genoa who creates a frame in gold and silver leaves; or learn about pottery art by glazing and decorating a terracotta plate, or give free rein to creativity by creating a fresco on a wooden base using ancient techniques.
Italians are very keen on festivals and celebrations of all sorts. Festivals range from local religious processions to avant-garde musical events. In almost every season, you can find a local event that is worth a visit.
In historic towns, locals are fond of re-enacting their past, and medieval parades, jousts and flag-throwing displays are very popular. During the hot summer nights, many towns put on outdoor festivals of music, dance and shows for both visitors and locals. Often these take place in the local ruins, castle or park – in some cases the entertainment is free.
Throughout the year, but particularly in autumn, there are many opportunities in small towns to sample a sagra – traditional parties to celebrate a local product from artichokes to anchovies, or the wine harvest. Usually there are free tastings, stalls, music, dancing and a historical procession.
The Carnival of Viareggio in Tuscany with its procession of elaborate floats, the Palio in Asti (less famous than the Siena’s one but not less interesting), the Truffle Fair in Alba (Piedmont), the Procession for Easter celebration in Trapani are just some great events to suggest.
I was a traveller before becoming a travel agent, I always try to keep in mind my expectations as a consumer when creating an itinerary for the sale. And the emotional part simply cannot be left out.
Feeding sheep in an Icelandic farm; drinking vodka in a Russian dacha; meeting a winemaker in the Rioja Spanish region; biking in a small island of the Lofoten archipelago with two locals that I just met on the road and talking with them about their country, well, these have probably been some of the best moments of my traveller’s life!
It’s all about people. I met them, talked to them, got involved in their everyday lives and this made me feel that I could understand a little more about a foreign country.
I love my country and having the great fortune to design itineraries for worldwide travellers, my aim is to create opportunities to experience the real and genuine side of Italy, and live as and with locals.
Subscription successful! Thank you for subscribing.