Culinary Tourism Experience Development Self-Assessment

  • Self-Assessment completed by:
  • A copy of your completed self-assessment will be emailed to the address you provide.
  • Date and Time
  • :
  • Please be advised that completed self-assessments are stored on Destination Northern Ontario’s database. Your business/personal information is protected under Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) with results kept confidential and only shared within DNO for the purpose of providing insights into needs and trends in product, training and workforce development initiatives and will not be used for anything outside this purpose. For any questions, please contact Karen Peacock, Senior Coordinator, Senior Coordinator, Workforce Development and Industry Training at
  • A note on your responses: When you receive your completed self-assessment (emailed to you after you click the submit button), pay special attention to any 'Does Not Meet' or 'No' selections. These are opportunities for improvement. Ideally, you want to see all 'Exceeds' or 'Meets' or 'Yes' selections.
  • Key practices when creating or improving on a culinary tourism experience

  • Throughout this self-assessment there will be reference to organizations and online resources. When you complete the self-assessment (by clicking 'Submit' at the end of this form), you will be sent a list of these online resources.
  • General Practices

    1 Question
  • The Visitor Appeal Assessment Tool is a standalone TEN self-assessment tool that evaluates the visitor experience of your tourism product.
  • Regulatory

    2 Questions
  • Taste of Place

    5 Questions
  • A "taste of place" is an expression of your region's uniqueness through the local products provided throughout the whole food value chain, from "field" to "fork". Travellers to your region are seeking experiences that highlight this unique appeal, that have a story behind it, that have a particular taste or smell, that are part of a traditional way of life, etc. Northern Ontario is ripe with local products that can't be found elsewhere. Highlighting these in your menu will enhance every visitor's tourism experience.
  • Food tourists want to try something they can’t get at home, they are curious about local specialties, or local versions of foods they already enjoy. Even if it is something that they can get at home, like beer or blueberries for example, telling them why it is different or unique is important. So if the beer involves a collaboration with a local blueberry producer, or if the blueberries grow particularly well due to clay in your region, showcase this!
  • Visitors want to try local food and drink products, and they value when you prioritize these at your business. For instance, offering local beers or wines from the region's craft breweries and wineries, or choosing to provide fish caught from a nearby lake.
  • Did You Know? There are over 22 farmers' markets in Northern Ontario listed on and hundreds of farm fresh producers? By using local products, you encourage sustainability within your community and increase the value of your menu!
  • Culinary tourism is the ONLY form of tourism that incorporates all 5 (five) senses. By providing creative ways of tasting and learning about the products you offer, your visitors will feel more immersed in the experience and the culture of the place.
  • Collaborating with your local suppliers adds value to the products you serve, but also enriches your story as a business within a destination. By including the names of your suppliers on your menu, posting about your suppliers on social media, etc. you create a connection between the visitor and your community through food.
  • If you participate in events, associations, routes, activities, etc., highlight these! By including your business in regional tourism routes, or by becoming a member of your regional destination marketing organizations, including Destination Northern Ontario, you're putting yourself on the "map" of things to do and see in your region. Visitors are drawn to a region based on how many experiences they can have during their trip, so be part of those networks.
  • Experience Development

    5 Questions
  • What makes your business so "unique" that it is worth a stop on a travel itinerary? Visitors are seeking experiences that they wouldn't have at home, they are looking to be "wowed" and for something that is unique. A culinary tourism experience therefore needs to be planned to offer enticement on all sensory levels.
  • From ideation to implementation, building memorable experiences for visitors requires time, effort, and resources in order to ensure its viability. 1) There are provincial and regional regulations to follow in order to handle and provide food and drink products to your clients and 2) visitors are seeking unique and immersive experiences that are much broader than just sitting down for a meal, or buying a bottle of local beer or wine. Are you ready to take the leap and commit to the process?
  • Food tourists are often considered niche markets within cultural tourism, but as we know, everyone needs to eat! And this fact alone dramatically increases the potential target markets. From campers to cottagers to day-trippers, visitors, including those travelling to rural and remote destinations, are curious about local specialties.
  • Keeping in mind that visitors want unique products and tastes that are tied to a region, do you celebrate a connection to place through the products you offer?
  • Is your business establishment attractive and unique visually? Are there specific odors or tastes? Can visitors interact with the product, or the process of creating or transforming the product? Can visitors taste or sample the products onsite? All these multi-sensory elements are what makes an experience unique.
  • Give travellers REASONS and OPPORTUNITIES TO SPEND MORE! Tourists are looking to buy food and drink products and souvenirs (non-food products) to bring back home (often to share with family and friends - something that can inspire visitation and encourage referrals).
  • Did You Know? International travellers are more likely to buy travel sized containers of 100ml or less, because of aviation regulations. Keep this in mind when planning your bottling or packaging processes...
  • Marketing and Storytelling

    7 Questions
  • Online and "guerilla" marketing are the most commonly used and effective ways of promoting culinary experiences to travellers. Although culinary tourism is not always the main draw to a destination, it is often one of the most remembered. (e.g., you may have gone to Toronto mainly to visit the CN Tower, but coming back home, you spoke to your friends about the best locally-sourced fish tacos in a small shop you stopped in on Yonge St. getting there...). Businesses who offer these types of experiences will often plan each customer interaction and path to purchase. The Culinary Tourism Alliance has created a Storytelling Guide that will help you analyze each step of your culinary experience, helping you look for touchpoints that you can use to engage with a visitor, be it a story to tell, a sense to stimulate, or a product to sell/upsell. A link to the Storytelling Guide will be sent to you in an email once you click 'Submit'.
  • You eat with your eyes first. Food tourists (especially those that are strongly motivated by food and drink) are resourceful, they will go online in advance to decide where, and often what, to eat or drink. Including high-quality photos of people enjoying your food tourism experience, tasting the products, and commenting on them, will help visitors understand what you offer and whet their appetites! Photos should be of the food and not only of the space (taking a picture of a barn and posting it isn't as powerful as a picture of a person tasting, or churning their own, farm-made butter, for example.)
  • We all know that social media is important. The most important aspect of social media is user-generated content. It carries a lot more weight than posts that businesses make themselves because of their candour and honesty. When visitors talk about your business online it’s free long as their experience is positive! And don't forget to promote your hashtag and "Instagrammable" spots during a visit.
  • Did You Know? Digital Main Street can help you fund, set up and manage your online presence. For a link to Digital Main Street, see the resources section of the email you receive once you finish this Self-Assessment.
  • People rarely travel for just one business, they travel to have a series of experiences. Food tourists in particular, love to get insider tips. Having staff be ambassadors for the region (i.e. the destination) by asking people where they're headed and if they need recommendations. This makes visitors feel like they had a personalized experience and that each business is part of something bigger, and creates memories that are meaningful and worthwhile to chat about with their friends, families.
  • So whether it’s the fact that you use your family recipes, or that you feature locally foraged ingredients, or showcase the history of the region, have a sustainability ethos – whatever it is, it’s important that everyone in your staff is telling the same story.
  • This means that there are multiple ways that visitors can hear the pieces of your story and your value proposition – they will encounter it when looking up your business online, checking out your Instagram (including user-generated content) and in person verbally when they are interacting with you and your staff.
  • This can mean in conversation, surveys, or by monitoring review sites.
  • Did You Know? There are over 108,000 reviews on TripAdvisor for Northeastern Ontario businesses alone!
  • Encouraging visitors to leave a review is now common practice in many establishments. Keep in mind that clients will leave reviews online whether you manage your accounts or not! Responding to comments on your Google Reviews and TripAdvisor pages, two of the most commonly used apps by tourists, will ensure continuous and value-added conversations with your current and potential clients."
  • Congratulations! You've come to the end of the self-assessment. Once you click 'Submit' your completed self-assessment will be emailed to the address that you provided at the start of this form.
  • You will also receive suggestions on how to use the data from your completed self-assessment AND a list of online resources for organizations that appeared in this self-assessment.

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