Want to be the first in the know for the Flights of Flavor pass when it's ready? Sign up here!
The World Food Travel Association (WFTA) reports that 80% of travelers research food and drink options while traveling to a new destination. More than 50% of them consider themselves “culinary travelers.”
That’s why food tourism – which the WFTA defines as “the act of traveling for a taste of place in order to get a sense of place” – is big business. And it’s expected to grow exponentially: one research firm pegged the U.S. food tourism market at $1.31 billion in 2022 and predicts it will grow to $3.46 billion by 2028.
Grand Rapids already enjoys a strong reputation as a food & craft beverage destination. We want to build on that with Flights of Flavor, a program aimed at enticing travelers (and local residents) with unique flavor combinations and dining experiences.
A number of local eateries already offer a food or craft beverage flight, from a collection of six sample-size pizzas to a lineup of four 5-oz. beers. A Flight of Flavor combines both food and beverages to create a singular, surprising, “I’ve got to try this!” menu item.
Establishing Grand Rapids as the destination for Flights of Flavor is aimed at increasing local tourism. Establishing your business as a destination for Flights of Flavor is designed to boost your bottom line!
Any Kent County restaurant or brewery that sells food and/or drink can participate by creating a special:
Click here for some visual examples of each category.
You must be a partner of Experience Grand Rapids to participate (a $250 annual commitment). If you are already a paid partner of Experience Grand Rapids, thank you! If you are not, you can fill out a partnership application here to get started.
You will also commit to training your staff to present the concept to guests. We strongly prefer that you offer your flight(s) on a year-round basis. However, if circumstances dictate that you change your offering or take it off the menu, you agree to let us know on a timely basis so we can adjust our promotions.
April 3: Recruitment begins
April 3: Grant application opens
May 12: Sign-up deadline for initial launch
May 15: Grant application closes
June 21(ish): Flights of Flavor launches
Experience Grand Rapids is offering capital improvement grants for restaurants and breweries that enhance their food and beverage offerings to visitors. These grants are available for up to $500 for food-only and beverage-only flights, and up to $1,000 for paired food & beverage Flights of Flavor. They are intended to help fund the purchase of new dishware, glassware and presentation ware.
We are excited to offer this opportunity and hope many restaurants and breweries will take advantage of it to expand their food and beverage offerings in Kent County.
Click here for grant application or view the grant information sheet.
We encourage you to be creative with your pairings and the names you give them: think Suds & Spuds (beer & potato wedges), Vino & Veggies (wine & crudités), Toast & ‘Tails (fancy toast & cocktails), Let Them Eat Cakes (mini desserts), Cordialities (flavored liqueurs), … the only limit is your imagination. Your flight should, of course, reflect your unique brand promise.
Presentation is key: create a look that will start a buzz at the table and inspire photo sharing on Instagram and other social media. Select and compose foods and beverages for maximum visual appeal, and choose dishware and glassware that will make a statement.
Portion size and menu price is up to you!
Participating establishments will benefit from a flurry of online, TV/radio, print and outdoor advertising and a comprehensive public relations campaign. We will also provide you with promotional rack cards, posters, window clings and other materials to use in your business.
Customers will be asked to check-in to participating locations via Bandwango and rack up points that can be redeemed for Flights of Flavor merchandise. They can also choose to donate their points to fund a monetary donation to local organizations, such as the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College.
Flights of Flavor is a long-term marketing strategy designed to further elevate Grand Rapids/Kent County as a food & craft beverage destination. No other city is doing this, so it’s an excellent opportunity to differentiate and distinguish the region and its food & drink businesses.
We believe Flights of Flavor will generate excitement, awareness and sales for participating restaurants, from both visiting travelers and local residents.
Contact Jaylyn McCloy, Marketing Partnership Manager at JMcCloy@ExperienceGR.com or 616-233-3565.