Local Tastes of the City Tours

Local Taste of the City Tours is a food tour based in San Francisco. Billed as one of the culinary capitals of the world, the tour brings guests to local bakeries, restaurants, and cafes to sample the different types of food the city has to offer.

Tom Medin is the owner of Local Taste of the City and has been guiding in San Francisco for nearly a decade. Recognising the need to adapt post COVID, Tom and the team used digital waivers as a way to protect staff and guests.

We met with our staff once a week, and gave them a combination of loans and grants to make sure they weren’t going to be homeless! As a result of that time, we have really loyal staff members, and we came out of the pandemic in a very collaborative way. We make joint decisions and our staff want us to do well. 

So the waiver does two things for us. One, it emphasizes the idea that if you’re not vaccinated – don’t show up. Our staff made this decision together.”

Guests also expect food tours to be accommodating of allergies and intolerances, so waivers are the perfect opportunity to open up a direct line of communication with each person in the group. This information is also collected post payment so there’s no risk of the person booking dropping off before entering their credit card details.  

The challenge we had with collecting this information through our reservation system, is that they {the lead booker} would quickly click the first option, ignoring all of the questions about allergies and vaccinations. 

But there’s a lot of allergies which we can do something about. We can’t do anything for nut allergies, so if you have a nut allergy, you can’t come on the tour unfortunately. So we need to collect this information from the guests directly, and waivers allow us to do that.”

allergens food tours

The team recognised that latecomers really disrupt the flow of their tours, so waivers allow them to communicate the start times and directions to each guest, so everyone can have the same experience.

If you’ve ever given a presentation and had someone arrive late, you feel like you’re now giving two presentations – one to the people who were there from the start, and another to the latecomers. It’s the same with food tours which is why we emphasize to people that they need to be on time. “

San Francisco is a city which embraces the holiday seasons, so Tom uses the data collected in his waivers to build his marketing strategy. 

You have to say to yourself as a food tour operator, ‘what are the events that will be going on for longer than a day, and how do I target people for those holidays.’ For example, Valentine’s Day is a huge day here, and we can do Valentine’s Day tours all month. Same as Halloween and Pride Month! So we’ll use the waiver data to target people for those holiday months. We also do big business in gift certificates every year.”

marketing food tours

The corporate market is a huge opportunity for any operator, as one sale can result in a significant bump in revenue. Tom uses his past guest data to find a way to infiltrate this lucrative market. 

Our corporate market is very different from other markets. You can send cold emails to Facebook until you’re blue in the face, and they won’t go anywhere. But what we can do is find people who were on our tours that fit a certain demographic, and say “hey, think about booking us for a corporate event”. We’ve now got an in with these companies, and decisions get made internally for these events which is huge for us. “

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