October 23, 2016

Written by Pádraic Gilligan, Soolnua
“Let me take you down as I’m going to Strawberry Fields. Nothing is real.”
It’s ironic, as I leave Las Vegas, that the theme for this week’s blog post is authenticity. In the constellation of words that might be used to describe this astonishing town, authenticity is unlikely to be one of them. For in Vegas nothing is real – the illusionary distances, the pastiche edifices, the carved and sculpted bodies “with beautiful shapes nature never designed”.  But the word authenticity was used scores and scores of times in Las Vegas during this past week as 15,000 people convened at the Nevada town for IMEX, the meetings industry must-attend trade show.

And why am I so sure that authenticity was popping up in conversations at a business tourism trade show in North America? Because it’s a core trend these days, driving consumer behaviour all over the world, and now percolating down to the B2B discussions that underpin the buying and selling at IMEX. If, in the past, participants sought glamour and luxury when travelling for corporate meetings or incentive travel experiences now their focus is on authenticity in all its shapes and sizes.
Real times, real places, real people

Authenticity certainly formed the central theme of Jean Michel Petit’s presentation of Vizeat, the food sharing platform he started 2 years ago. He was speaking in Las Vegas at IMEX16 as part of a panel discussion that I chaired on the Sharing Economy. Vizeat is becoming hugely successful for many reasons but principally because it’s zeitgesity, connecting locals and visitors in a reciprocally enriching encounter around food. As such, Vizeat is front and centre, along with Airbnb (at least in its original, pure form) in enabling visitors be locals and thus get beyond the flimsy superficiality of mass tourism and immerse themselves in the heart of the community.

Research commissioned by Vizeat, interestingly, shows cultural variations around one’s willingness to host and to be hosted by strangers. The Chinese are by far the most willing both to welcome guests at their own home and to be welcomed at the home of a stranger when travelling. At the other end of the spectrum, the retiring and culinarily challenged British are less keen both to host and be hosted but, even so, significantly more than half of all nations surveyed – including the shy and diffident ones – were happy to participate. Such is the extend of the desire for authenticity!

touRRoir16, Dublin, 1 Nov

Jean Michel will be in Dublin shortly  to present Vizeat at touRRoir16, the inaugural forum on food, tourism and culture organised by Good Food Ireland (with help from our own team here at SoolNua) at Croke Park Meetings & Events on Tuesday, 1 November. touRRoir16 pivots around this exploding search for authenticity and brings together experts from the Food, Tourism and Culture fields to dialogue, discuss and debate where this quest for authenticity is taking us and how practitioners in the 3 sectors can harness it for business success.

Speakers and Panelists are being added daily but the programme is solidly anchored by over 20 global thought leaders in food, tourism and culture including Maria Jose San Roman of Michelin starred Monastrell, Hillary Smith of Condé Nast‘s food innovation group and Patrick Whyte, the newly appointed Head of Skift‘s European Bureau. Speakers and panelists from the worlds of destination marketing, hospitality, politics, local government, place and nation branding, culture and small business demonstrate the broach church around which our topics coalesce and ensure dynamic, fulfilling network opportunities.

The conference will incorporate two additional functions as well as a sumptuous collaborative dinner-banquet with creative oversight from our global chefs. One of the functions, the Best of the Decade Awards, celebrates 10 years of Good Food Ireland and the extraordinary contribution that it has made to the island of Ireland as regarding Food Tourism both from the regulatory and marketing perspectives. A panel of expert judges from the worlds of food, media and academia will deliberate over nominations and select “Best of the Decade” recipients in 6 categories.

touRRoir16 also inaugurates its own Hall of Fame award which will go to the individual or individuals whose “vision, creativity and drive has had a positive and significant impact on the development of food, tourism and culture for the long term benefit of all stakeholders and consumers themselves. Where the confluence of these three sectors has effected change to drive business and where soft power and Gastrodiplomacy initiatives have raised profile or changed an image”.

Pádraic Gilligan, Pat Delaney and Aoife McCrum run SoolNua, a specialist agency working with destinations, hotels and venues on strategy, marketing and training.


October 12, 2016

Do you own or work in a food tourism or culture business? Find out more about the exploding search for authenticity

touRRoir 16 will explore the search for authenticity, the single most significant movement in consumer behaviour today.

This is no more evident than in two of the world’s largest consumer markets – Food & Tourism.  The authenticity quest is being facilitated by ever accelerating technological breakthroughs and a seismic shift in power from producer to consumer as well as significant shifts in attitudes on sustainability, transparency & sourcing.

The rise of craft, crowd sourcing, responsible investing, consumer rating & influencing power combined with a reversal of scale advantage is resulting in a golden age for authentic small producers & service providers engaging directly with empowered consumers on their own terms in many sectors and most especially in Food and Tourism.

Witness also the increasing emergence of the Culture sector as not only good for the soul but also as a significant economic entity in its own right. Within Culture as well, authenticity has never been as much in demand and localised culture rooted in a true sense of people & place, history & ritual is increasingly been sought out and even expected by growing numbers of experience hungry consumers.

touRRoir 16 is the first dedicated global forum drawing Food, Tourism & Culture strands together to explore how best to harness this exploding search for authenticity for the long term benefit of all stakeholders – including for the consumers themselves!

Attendees will hear from world class practitioners and experts drawn from all three sectors in a unique exchange of experiences, expertise & learnings from both within and across the sectors.

They will also hear about what’s driving this consumer authenticity movement, examples of cross sector best practices – and maybe some worst practices – the disruptive technology developments facilitating and even driving change, and touRRoir will glimpse into a rapidly approaching future which at one level can look daunting, but also can be refreshingly familiar in terms of basic human desires and behaviours.

If you have not yet bought your tickets, don’t miss out, buy now

September 14, 2016

Check out our Launch video for touRRoir, a new signature food, tourism and culture global forum that will explore every aspect of food tourism and its inextricable link to a country’s culture.

It will look into a rapidly growing future of food in tourism and the disruptive technology developments facilitating and even driving this change.

touRRoir will show how best to harness the exploding search for authenticity and how by fostering the shared values of these three sectors, companies and nations can build brands through associated soft power attractiveness.


August 29, 2016

In 2006, Good Food Ireland, a benchmark brand for food tourism in Ireland was born. The brainchild of it’s founder Margaret Jeffares, it grew organically from a need to link the agri-food and tourism sectors in Ireland.

This new standard of guaranteed trust and honesty in food set the scene for a new kind of tourism.

One which embraced the country’s legendary food production,  farming and fishing heritage,  as an essential part of the visitor experience.

The first businesses to join the Good Food Ireland network were the proud soldiers of this new food tourism movement, fully believing in promoting Ireland  through its  good food and warm hospitality. They welcomed the opportunity to stand together as a band of like-minded people under the pioneering movement of Good Food Ireland, to highlight  Irish food tourism on the world stage.  From these small beginnings a connected family has grown.

These last ten years have seen many businesses join the early siblings.  Good Food Ireland has become a standard to aspire to in the hospitality industry, raising the bar in food tourism, with members who are fully focused on being part of a pioneering standard which champions an Irish food experience. From farmhouse B&B’s, cafes and coffee shops, to restaurants, food shops and delis, hotels, country houses and guesthouses, to cookery schools, food and drink producers and artisan specialists, each and every one of these members fly the flag for the best Irish food and drink. The network continues to grow every day, to form a solid core of people who share one vision to give the best possible food experience in Ireland.  The distinctive Good Food Ireland logo signals a rewarding Irish ingredient led experience for every visitor, every time.  Members are proud to highlight local and Irish produce and craft drinks on their menus. They actively and conscientiously source the best quality local and seasonal ingredients, so that every meal has it’s own story of Ireland to tell. Of that they are very proud.

Lots of things have changed since the early days of Good Food Ireland. The original members have become old and trusted friends. It also now has a new wave of youth and innovation among its network.  Some of the businesses are now in the hands of the second generation, taking them forward to the next phase in their development and ensuring their continuation into the future. All  members are committed to working with Good Food Ireland to bring Ireland’s food culture to visitors in a variety of ways. Their latest achievements include the launch of Good Food Ireland Signature Food Experiences and Culinary Tours, which directly connect tourists to producers, growers and food establishments via gourmet and cultural journeys of discovery throughout Ireland. The story is still being written.

Specially for the tenth anniversary, they will now celebrate their journey together as a family, with Good Food Ireland’s Best Of The Decade Awards.  These awards highlight those members who have made their own mark on the whole story of the last ten years. They will honour their magnificent contributions to a very exciting period in the development of Irish food tourism. And we very much look forward to the next decade of Good Food Ireland’s growth and development on the global stage, and to meeting new friends who share their ideals to work tirelessly to maintain and grow Ireland’s reputation as a world class food tourism destination.