Quantitative and qualitative analysis of the gastronomic tourist
One of the essential elements of Insights of a tourism product corresponds to the study of the demand both actual and potential. The consumer is the main driver of innovation and its motivations; tastes and needs change dramatically and mark the natural evolution of markets.
Understand the gastronomic tourist and the perspectives it has on tourism and gastronomy, as well as knowing the impact it causes on destinations is essential to be able to promote the sustainable tourism development of a destination. There are a variety of profiles and gastronomic interests; Knowing and studying them will allow a better understanding of how and when to intervene. The measurement of the tourist experience is essential to improve, develop and understand the phenomenon, as well as to take advantage of the opportunities offered by gastronomic tourism.
The main actions to be carried out in relation to the demand of gastronomic tourism from the perspective of the destination could be specified, among others, in:
- Market research: segment, characterize and evaluate the degree of attractiveness of the gastronomic tourism segments for the destination by offering information on sociodemographic and psychographic characteristics, tourist and gastronomic consumption patterns (type of accommodation, transport, average stay, trip organization, tourist expenditure, catering expenditure, complementary activities / gastronomic activities carried out, etc.),
- analyze and know the tourist consumption habits and gastronomic behavior of the main markets that emit tourism to the destination,
- analyze visitor traffic and their gastronomic behavior in the destination to understand the dynamics that inform the travel experience: general data (duration of the trip, frequency or use of the service, loyalty, first visit or repetition, price sensitivity, number of people with which you travel, means of transport used, activities carried out during the trip, marketing channel used, way of organizing the trip, advance reservation, period of travel, type of accommodation used, average cost, sources of information, etc. .) Y
- specific data on gastronomic behavior (number and types of gastronomic activities, average expenditure per activity, etc.),
- analyze the degree of satisfaction of the gastronomic tourist in the destination, and
- analyze the economic, social and environmental impact caused by the gastronomic tourist in the destination.
Segmentation of gastronomic tourists and their in-depth knowledge is a challenge for destinations. The profiles of gastronomic tourism consumers can be segmented by demographic variables (origin, age, sex, etc.), socioeconomic (income, occupation, education, socioeconomic level, etc.), psychographic (lifestyle, personality, values, interests , tastes, opinions, etc.) and behavioral. But perhaps the motivational variable is the most important to understand the gastronomic tourist, since the place that gastronomy occupies in the intention of a tourist to travel to a destination can have variable importance:
- gastronomy is the main reason or experience of tourist activity,
- gastronomy is a secondary travel experience or motivation, that is, as a relevant complement that provides significant added value to the trip, and / or
- gastronomy is part of the tourist routine. It responds to the physiological need to eat, and therefore we would not be talking about a gastronomic tourist.
Gastronomic tourist profiles are created with the help of observation and research (surveys, group dynamics by focus groups, expert panels, etc.) and should be used as a basis for the design of tourism products. To characterize and assess the attractiveness of the different segments and profiles of gastronomic tourists and decide which will be the target groups, we must take into account several aspects such as:
- the size and growth potential, that is, the turnover that this group can generate in the selected activities and the foreseeable growth,
- the factors that a customer in that segment has in mind when deciding which gastronomic destination to go to (price, proximity, comfort, quality of the service, range of the offer, image of the destination, location, etc.), and
- the degree of competitiveness that exists in competing destinations to attract this type of segment in relation to our destination.
All of this will result in the market and segment prioritization matrix.
There are tools and techniques that help to understand the behavior of the gastronomic tourist, among them: the customer journey, which allows to capture on a map the stages through which the gastronomic tourist goes through in the cycle of purchase and visit. Starting from the stage in which the person is inspired to make a trip, going through the planning of the trip, the realization of it and finally through the post-trip stage in which the person shares their experience, rates the destination and recommends it. in case of having had a positive experience,
- a traveler profile describes behavior in a given situation. A person, during his life, can reflect various patterns or profiles of behavior. Illustrative methods to represent the gastronomic tourist are the buyer persona and empathy maps, through which a representation can be generated that takes into account sociodemographic data and information related to consumer behavior,
- Digitization and connectivity with consumers are today a continuous source of information that must be used using big data and neuro-marketing technologies to decipher the habits and behaviors of the gastronomic tourist, anticipate their needs, design offers adapted to each segment and offer services to facilitate purchasing or comprehensive solutions, and
- additionally, behavioral economics, psychology and neuroscience should be used to understand how tourists behave in gastronomy and based on this, design products or services based on evidence.
Issues to consider:
- The gastronomic tourist. The Second UNWTO Global Report on Gastronomic Tourism: Sustainability and Gastronomy (2016) emphasizes that, when it comes to motivating tourists, the gastronomic experience is today as important as visiting a museum, enjoying music or admiring the architecture of a destination. In this context and according to different studies, a new rising tourist profile has emerged, who travels to destinations with the main motivation of knowing and enjoying the culinary identity of the places they visit. The tourist has transformed their focus on the trip, going from wanting to visit or know the places of a destination in a contemplative way, to experiencing experiences and carrying out memorable activities that allow them to connect and participate, and that should be the expression of the atmosphere, the lifestyle and gastronomic culture of a place. The current gastronomic tourist demands to reach the origin, asks for authenticity and identity, not only of the agri-food product but also of the social context that surrounds it, he is concerned about the origin of the products, the culinary techniques and recognizes gastronomy as a means of socialization. He is also a tourist who consumes above the average, who demands and values authenticity and who rejects uniformity.
- Value design for the gastronomic tourist based on knowledge. A detailed understanding of the key attributes sought by tourists and the values associated with those attributes are prerequisites for enhancing value in food tourism today and in the future.
- Sometimes, less is more, so, instead of trying to attract several profiles of gastronomic tourists, it may be more advisable to focus only on a few, and deepen their study and Insights in order to find your ideal customer. The more you do research, the better you will understand your target food tourist and the more feasible it will be to personalize food tourism proposals to meet and exceed customer needs and expectations.
- Destinations oriented and focused on gastronomic tourists. Customer orientation is an area of permanent improvement in companies. Know the trends and changes in consumer attitudes, purchase reasons, consumption times and their preferences it must be a strategic priority. The processes, Marketing and tourist service must assume a preferential role in all companies, placing the consumer at the center of their strategies. The gastronomic tourist is today the protagonist of the travel cycle. The ANTs or DMOs should play a facilitating and dynamic role in the face of gastronomic tourism companies and should transfer the knowledge generated in this regard to the sector.
- Measurement of the tourist experience during the trip and post trip in the digital age. Social networks serve as a communication platform for the gastronomic sector both in the inspiration phase and in the sharing phase and provide information to measure the tourist experience. The Insights Online reputation through big data can provide very valuable information for the destination and its companies. Today the online reputation of tourist destinations falls heavily on the restaurant sector. The study of the online reputation of the restaurant sector provides valuable information on aspects such as the levels of satisfaction of the experience in different dimensions (service, price, atmosphere, food quality) that can also be segmented by different criteria, origin of opinions, etc.
- Future research methods. The discoveries about the importance of emotions in making strategic have given rise to more adapted market research and competitive intelligence solutions where traditional techniques coexist, with technology from medicine and neuro-marketing (attention meters, galvanometers, etc.) and with more recent methodologies, such as qualitative research / quantitative (Insights linguistic and semantic of what is said on the internet, through the conversations held by customers and operators in the call center, etc.), predictive inferences (use of statistical models that allow defining which perceptual aspects impact on certain behaviors).
- Dashboard, data transfer to the sector. To monitor trends, it will be necessary to create a scorecard that synthesizes the main indicators. It is essential that the results obtained are comparable between destinations, which would advise similar methodologies for all regions and also that the results of the investigations are transferred to the sector.