What is the Bourdain Effect

The international phenomenon where food is the focal point of travel is known as “The Bourdain Effect.” This culinary tourism mindset is a way of attaining an authentic experience through local cuisine. As our lifestyles become more and more digital we’re drawn to tangible activities. Food can’t be automated, it must be consumed live and in person.

Travelers are hungry for authentic experiences and use food as a means to immerse themselves in local culture. Traverse City is well positioned to take advantage of this trend as we land on list upon list elevating our status as a foodie town. And the hype appears to be working. Occupancy rates for 2015 indicate a 4% increase over the previous year. With all signs pointing toward another strong season, we want to share how our hospitality partners are responding to this trend.

Our thanks go out to Black Star Farms where we filmed on-location at TASTES of Black Star Farms inside The Village mercato and captured one of Traverse City’s unique dining experiences, a Matterhorn Grill dinner.

How Does the Bourdain Effect Impact Traverse City Hospitality Businesses

In our video we speak with Jonathan Pack, General Manager at Cherry Tree Inn & Suites, and board member at Traverse City Tourism to get his perspective on the Bourdain Effect and the impact of culinary tourism on the lodging industry.

Among other questions we ask Jonathan how they incorporate local foods & products into their property to improve the guest experience. He shares the number one question that guests ask at the front desk. And we discuss the connection between food, wine & beer festivals to our occupancy rates.

We have a great discussion with Russell Springsteen, owner at Right Brain Brewery to learn about their use of local ingredients, and the importance of collaboration with area businesses to improve their products and customer experience.

Karen Hilt, maker and merchant at My Secret Stash shares her thoughts on how other retailers could attract culinary tourists by adding products that feature beer, wine and cherries. We wanted to know what she loves about living in a foodie town. Her answer is perfect.

Jonathan Pack Bourdain Effect

“We love making a personalized Traverse City experience. So we bring in Bay Bread for our breakfast—great cherry walnut bread—we have Benjamin Twiggs cherry products in our Sweet Shop… and let’s not forget Moomer’s Ice Cream, that goes by the pint!” – Jonathan Pack

Russell Springsteen Bourdain Effect

“It comes back to relationship building with our local economy. My philosophy is, I don’t get barrels from out-of-state. I try to get them all local. I have 2 Lads Winery, Grand Traverse Distillery, 45 North – we made probably one of the best beers we’ve ever made with their port wine barrels.” – Russell Springsteen

Karen Hilt Bourdain Effect

“I can go to any restaurant and know that it’s good. I can recommend any restaurant and be quite happy about that.” – Karen Hilt

We’d love to hear from you! Have you experienced The Bourdain Effect first hand with your business? Do you see an opportunity to expand your market reach by developing products and services that appeal to culinary travelers? Let us know what you think.




Share your thoughts with us

We'd love to get your feedback on this topic. Has the growth of culinary tourism impacted your business? Contact us and share your thoughts. We'll include an update in our next email newsletter.