A visit to the cafe, restaurant or food outlet within a visitor attraction should no longer be seen as an add-on at the end of the visit, but it is expected as part of the whole experience.
My presentation at the VisitEngland Assessors Conference last month provided ideas to help raise the standards and quality of food and drink at visitor attractions. Topics up for discussion were:
* Food and catering plays an essential part in creating a seamless customer journey at attractions.
* Catering is a great business with healthy margins and has the capacity for creating a distinctive product.
* A great Café or Restaurant can increase footfall and visitor numbers and become an attraction in itself.
* Quality food and drink if done well can rival the best of exhibitions.
* Food and drink outlets are an important secondary spending stream.
But as always looking at current food trends created the most lively of discussions.
Suffolk County Council approached me to create a short five week cookery course teaching young, vulnerable, single parents to cook. Each week while the children were entertained in the creche the parents created a delicious, healthy and simple lunch to sit and eat together with their children at the end of the session. We covered basic cookery skills and worked within a set budget. When I asked for feedback at the end of the course the favourite lunch proved to be "Let's cook a Chinese Takeaway" Not only nicer than the local takeaway but also about a quarter of the price!