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Exploring Canada’s food landscape through customization

Canada’s diverse culinary landscape sets the perfect scene for travellers to explore the country through food, offering memorable experiences and culturally rich dishes that tell a story about the nation. In the rapidly growing segment of culinary tourism, travellers are seeking unique food-related experiences that offer personalization, customization and convenience. Canadian brands are responding with curated travel opportunities that appeal to laidback foodies and adventure-seeking travellers alike.

Curated Culinary Experiences

Though the concept of culinary travel is not new, brands within the tourism space are enhancing the role of culinary tourism by offering various platforms, products, and services that are centered around food. From tours to food travel-specific apps, these services prioritize curated experiences that speak to a specific but crucial aspect of touring another country. By honing in on this niche, travel brands have the opportunity to go beyond traditional tourism services, which rely largely on recommendations in regard to the culinary industry. Carving out business opportunities that can transform consumers’ travelling experiences—not just as they relate to flight and accommodation, but over the duration of travellers’ stays–establishes brand loyalty in a more authentic and pervasive way. 

To capitalize on the connection that food can provide, a Toronto-based company dubbed Foodies on Foot takes guests on an immersive tour of the city’s eclectic culinary scene. Foodies on Foot takes a more literal approach to culinary tourism, by offering a highly curated on-foot exploration of some of the city’s top-rated neighbourhoods. Pairing popular hot spots with hidden gems, Foodies on Foot invites guests to enjoy an assortment of small-portioned bites that have been thoughtfully paired with local settings. One of these local settings includes Toronto’s Graffiti Alley, which is tucked behind the bustling Queen Street West neighbourhood. On this particular tour, guests will learn about the diverse street art that covers the walls of this tourist destination, while enjoying some of the best street food the neighbourhood has to offer.

In-Flight Enhancement

The process of dining pre- or in-flight is notoriously unappetizing, however, many airports and airlines are aiming to counter this stereotype by offering specialty or customized meal plans for travellers to enjoy. In a space that prioritizes cost-cutting and convenience above all, the shift away from those factors and into services that provide enhanced experiences for travellers is a welcomed move. Whether in the form of pre-selected high-quality meal plans, or exclusive eateries specific to the airports they’re located in, these services appeal with both the comfort and the luxury associated with flying first-class–without having to be so. In an era where personalization is extremely valued, and to an extent–expected, by consumers, the process of tweaking culinary offerings in simple but significant ways appeals directly to that fact.

Some airlines are expanding their menus to offer more food options to the onboard passenger, while others are ensuring comfort and convenience in-terminal, with an expansion of pre-flight services that can make travelling a more enjoyable experience. Toronto’s Pearson airport perfectly exemplifies this, as it’s currently partnering with UberEats to offer travellers in-terminal food delivery. Through the service, travellers can use the UberEats app to order food from the various restaurants in the airport. Once prepared, a courier will bring the order to the customer’s location. This pilot program, which will run until the third quarter of 2019, is the first of its kind in the world, offering travellers enhanced convenience, and the opportunity to enjoy a pre-flight meal, without the stress and time management required to navigate the vast airport terminals.

Dietary Prioritization in Travel

Whether self-imposed or due to health concerns, dietary restrictions are increasingly common and increasingly catered to–with the tourism space being no exception. Brands related to food and hospitality industries are creating curated products or experiences that specifically cater to travellers with dietary restrictions–offering convenience and enhancing community for more cautious travellers. Services like this can be observed in everything from vegan hotel suites to diverse vegan in-flight menus, and come in reaction to the changes brands have seen in the consumption patterns of the average consumer. Once again relying heavily on personalization, the accommodation of such hyper-customized culinary experiences reveals the importance of shedding the one-size-fits-all approach to business.

Those leading healthy lifestyles are often looking to connect with like-minded people, and merging that desire with customization creates the perfect opportunity for a personalized travel experience. Toronto’s new Vegan Boat Cruise is helping to bridge that gap, offering plant-based consumers the opportunity to mingle while supporting a worthy cause. Vegan vendors are aboard the ship, serving an eclectic assortment of cruelty-free goods as the boat tours the Toronto Islands. On-site DJs provide the entertainment, helping to create a pressure-free social space where people can gather and connect. Both educational and customized, this unique experience fosters connectivity through the commonality of plant-based lifestyles.

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