While the overall world economy is lackluster, foreign tourists are taking advantage of a favorable exchange rate
to visit the United States. International tourism to the US is big business with 65 million foreign tourists visiting
the each year and these visitors represent an excellent opportunity for many restaurants to grow their business.
In a Foodservice Radio interview, Chris Perkins, Vice President of Marketing for Brand USA, talks about the
opportunities these tourists present to local and regional restaurants. Brand USA is a public-private partner
created by the Travel Promotion Act, with the purpose of promoting American as a travel destination to foreign
There are several ways a restaurant can tap into this market. "Virtually every city around the United States has a
Convention and Visitor's Bureau or some local organized tourism entity. Participating with them in their domestic
and convention business, as well as their growing interest in international, is a really smart business move," say
Perkins. In addition, "there are growing regional and national efforts toward Restaurant Weeks. From an
international perspective we are seeing the culinary experience, the foodie experience, as a key driver for some
Perkins suggests that restaurants take a look at their operation when targeting international visitors. "Be very
much aware of the multicultural nature of visitors to the US. There needs to be a very simple menu and great
signage. Any way a restaurateur can make themselves more accessible to someone who might not use English
as their first or even second language, the better suited they will be to capture that business." For example, how
easy is it for a non-English speaking guest to find the correct restroom?
All segments can benefit from international tourism. "It crosses the spectrum," says Perkins. "A lot of what we
talk about is the diversity of options in the United States, and that is a large part of what people look for when
they come here."
A social media presence is another good tool in helping tourists find a dining destination. "Having a great
website and having active social engagement on the major sites are great mechanisms. People are already
talking about you in the space, so to the extent that you can curate that conversation and attend to their
concerns, it will benefit you over time." Active social engagement also encourages visitors to talk about your
operation in social media, leading to additional business.
For more information on BrandUSA contact www.thebrandusa.com.
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Tourism Partnerships - Tap into the international travel market
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