Vacation: Everyone’s Favorite Time to Dine Out
People travel all year ’round, but summer’s an especially popular season for vacationers. And if there’s one thing vacationers love, it’s eating—regional flavors, unique dining experiences, and well-kept local secrets are among the many reasons restaurants become destinations for traveling consumers. For further proof, look at the popularity of state-hopping shows like the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Foodies all want to find the under-the-radar local hot-spot. So, how can restaurateurs best cater to hungry vacationers?
According to a recent survey by Restaurant.com, the answer might have something to do with well-timed discounts. In fact, 61% of respondents to the July survey said they searched for local dining deals prior to taking a trip. Online review sites like Yelp.com, UrbanSpoon.com, where consumers post reviews and ratings and restaurants can offer deals of the day and special coupons, were a close second to “local residents” for finding dining suggestions. Other websites and mobile apps, including Restaurant.com, also offer coupons and discounts for those about to spend time away from home.
Despite travelers planning their dinners around discounts and deals, vacationers and business-people are willing to spend on meals away from home; the survey stated traveling diners tended to drop $15-24 per person per meal. To traveling consumers, the ability to try local flavors and recipes proves even more important than discounted fare. According to the survey, the most most popular destinations for vacation dining are New York, Las Vegas, and New Orleans, with the Big Easy’s spicy cajun cooking called the “most unique.”
Chicago, too, has unique culinary appeal. As a born and bred suburbanite who went to school in far-away Ithaca, New York, I’m always getting East Coast visitors and friends asking to go out for deep dish pizza or Chicago-style hot dogs while they’re in town. But not everyone who visits the big city (or anywhere, for that matter) does so with a food-obsessed native guide, so well-placed discounts and marketing strategies aimed toward travelers can pay big dividends to restaurant owners and managers. Serve up the best Chicago-style hot dog in town? Make a mean pizza? Play it up and offer occasional discounts during vacation times that bring tourists and out-of-towners to your local area.
After all, long trips work up everybody’s appetite.
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