Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Creating Aegean Flavours

There is only one activity in which virtually all tourists will participate. EATING.

Our industry, travel, is a great one. It’s filled with a lot of awesome people building a lot of inspiring things and constantly seeking out ways to express just how much they love doing so.

Nothing compares to a good tour: the atmosphere of being immersed in a crowd of people who share the same passion as you, the things you learn and the friends you get to meet and the new ones you make. You leave a good holiday re-energized — full of zeal for travelling again.

That’s exactly what I wanted to create with Aegean Flavours and I am proud that we achieved it . Our guests learned Greece, shared stories, made lasting friendships and undoubtedly had a fabulous time. I felt like I had succeeded in giving back to the community some of the same experiences that I so value from my tourism studies in the UK and the vacations of my past. This year, we’ve added new itineraries , but our goal is the same: to bring people together in one place where they can discover and share memories on Greek food and wine.

Since starting Aegean Flavours, I’ve been fortunate enough to receive countless pieces of advice from other tour organisers and hoteliers. The advice has been invaluable to me !

If you are going to run a gastronomic tour operator, then you will need to be prepared for many late nights, big money worries, a roller coaster of emotions and a prolonged period when your loved ones, social life and free time take a back seat. There’s no escaping that. It’sa huge responsibility and one that will take up a lot of your time, both in physical labor and in constant worrying. It really is a massive amount of work, especially for those of us (like me) who do this on top of a day job. Sometimes it feels insurmountable.
Then, there is the stress from money, because — let’s not beat around the bush here — putting on a company of a certain size can be very expensive. Add to that the worry of not really being able to control exactly how well the tours in Greece go. You just have to plan and organize and sell as well as you can and keep your fingers crossed. Considering all of this thoroughly, therefore, and whether you really want to commit this much time and brainpower is really important.

One of the best ways to counteract the stress is to have a really clear understanding of why you’re doing this in the first place. You need to have a solid reason that you can believe in and that will drive you forward and help you to make a lot of the decisions along the way. My main reason was that I was tired of so many commercial tours in Greece featuring the same stuff and topics. After complaining about it on Facebook for so long, I decided that I had to just stop complaining and try to fix it. So, I took the opportunity to make the type of holiday that I would want to go myself.
So, with all of that being said, if you’ve read this far and still want to create a company like this, high five to you! I’m very glad I haven’t scared you away, because later I’ll talk about all of the wonderful rewards that this stress and hard work bring you.

According to the International Culinary Tourism Association, culinary tourism is growing exponentially every year. With the steady increase in interest of food channels, travel shows featuring local and regional cuisine, food documentaries and online culinary travel shows, more consumers are traveling to various destinations just to enjoy a new food and wine experience. People love food. And the popularity of international cuisine is testament to the craving that many have for new taste sensations. People are often drawn to spices, flavours and dishes vastly different to those they grew up with. Food has always played a role with travellers, as a holiday is often seen as the best time to take a break from cooking with restaurant and café meals. For those who have a passion for food, culinary tourism takes it one step further. I knew that most travellers prefered France, Italy and Spain, countries that have been enticing visitors to experience their culinary delights for decades. I really wanted to make Greece (being Greek) a country that attaracts this type of people. As you can see on the table below, the travellers who enjoy culinary activities come from the high end of the market.

What I decided to offer was cooking classes, wine tours, meals at hard to find authentic restaurants, road trips to rustic Greek villages visiting producers & tastings.

One of the biggest perks of being in this industry is that most of us have a lot of contacts. Use them. Ask them to promote you, whether on Twitter, on their blogs or at their own events. Ask whether they have contacts in the sponsorship department at their company. Ask them for advice if they’ve already run their own tours. From our experience, most people are only too happy to help.

Andreas Mougios, Founder

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