Local experiences are heating up as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Road trips are on the rise, and the need to support small local businesses continues to be a focus. As we reported in our Global Trends Impacting Meetings and Events white paper, localization is a key global business trend that continues to affect many industries. From food and beverage to hospitality; from retail to technology, localization means adapting a product or service to a specific location or market. Here are some communities that are embracing their history, culture, and unique stories to draw in visitors and locals alike. As a teambuilding component of a meeting, the highlight of an event, or part of the magic of an incentive travel program, people love local.
Some members of our team had the opportunity to meet Ken Price, Director of Public Relations for the Palmer House in Chicago, and a charismatic host of the History is Hott tour. Despite the fact that Ken gives the tour almost every day of the week, his passion is genuine and even contagious. While the majority of our group consisted of lifelong Chicago area natives and even some history teachers, we all walked away learning something new. Whether it was what the four stars on the Chicago flag represent or what “Chicago” really means, it was Ken’s storytelling that made the facts and events memorable. Covering over 100 years of history in just a few hours, Ken brought to life the people who performed, dined, and danced in the world-famous Empire Room. Also intriguing were the little-known facts about the accomplishments of Potter Palmer’s wife, Bertha, who worked to bolster the women’s rights movement.
The unique history of the Palmer House and the early days of Chicago made for an informative and interesting afternoon. Open to anyone for a reasonable fee, the History is Hott tour is a local gem that provides a break from a technology-crazed world as it opens a window to the urban bustle of another time.
Local Food and Drink
With the growth of culinary tourism and foodie fanatics, walking food tours are a popular and tasty way to be immersed in local culture and history. The routes of the many food tours throughout New York City include “non-touristy” and off-the-beaten-path spots. Visit the birthplace of the Oreo cookie, and historic landmarks in Chinatown, and hear stories about how the NYC music scene started.
On the West Coast, walking food tours through the renowned restaurants of San Diego, the historic Gaslamp District, and a stop at the Hotel del Coronado are sure to please. Capturing the local appeal and culture through food and beverage is a tangible and memorable experience.
In the Midwest, Wisconsin has experienced the rebirth of the supper club. “We’re about novelty as well as nostalgia,” said Aletto Glowacki, who has owned the HobNob Supper Club since 1954. According to Wisconsin Trails in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the archetypal supper club is a destination of “longstanding, intense Wisconsin pride.” What sets it apart from a regular restaurant is the journey and rituals the diner is exposed to.
If you’d rather visit a single table to sample the neighborhood fare and get to know the locals, a meal-sharing experience might be more up your alley. Traveling Spoon pairs meal seekers and hosts for home-cooked meals around the globe.
Local markets do a great job of maximizing community appeal. The Bi-Rite market in San Francisco believes in creating community through food. Listed on Forbes Best Small Companies, Bi-rite “sets the standard” with products sourced from local farmers, fishermen, ranchers, and artisans. Along with its sustainable practices, Bi-rite runs a nonprofit partnership that offers free and subsidized nutrition and cooking classes.
The Milwaukee Public Market is another local experience in and of itself. Acclaimed for being “rooted in old tradition,” the market is located in the Historic Third Ward, which aims to continue as “an innovative, livable and exciting mixed-use neighborhood while preserving its historic and creative character.”
Focusing on locale is a powerful way to share stories and take visitors on a learning journey while at a meeting, event, or on an incentive trip. Not only are each of the experiences listed above impactful and memorable in their own right, but they are also great elements to work into a team-building event that will connect your audience to the local experience. You could even create a scavenger hunt that ties your organizational messaging into the destination.
Whether it’s the pride residents feel or the desire visitors have to discover how other communities live – people love local.
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