Jessica Baumgart launched Delicious Denver Food Tours just 4 years ago after falling in love with food tours while traveling with her husband. “It was our new way to discover a new city,” she reminisces.
However, what started as a side hustle quickly evolved into a highly profitable business. And despite the incredible challenges imposed on both the tourism and hospitality industries in the last year of the pandemic, Delicious Denver has achieved the seemingly impossible: in July 2021, they hosted a record-breaking number of guests on their food tours.
Jessica breaks down the exact marketing strategies she used to grow her food tour business with zero budget. She also reveals the exact pitch she uses to secure partnerships with popular local restaurants. Jessica then discusses the logistical challenges of running a food tour — some of which may come as a surprise to new business owners. Finally, she discusses the ways in which her business has grown through hiring guides and outsourcing.
Finding restaurant partners
Jessica believes that having a good relationship with your restaurant partners is absolutely paramount to success. “You have to have really good, warm relationships with your restaurants if you’re going to survive and last more than one year.”
One way she stands out from other food tour businesses is by being upfront about their commitment to paying for food samples on the tour. “I always lead with. Hi I’m Jessica, I run a food tour, we pay for tastings,” she says.
In addition to paying the restaurants, she also highlights how her food tours can help bring in more business, increase web traffic, and boost their visibility on social media. She sums up her pitch by saying: “I’m paying you to market your business, essentially, so this is the easiest, cheapest marketing tool you’re going to have in your toolbox. And we want to do it in a way that is easy for you.”
Marketing strategies that led to explosive growth
When Jessica first started her food tour business, she relied on free or cheap marketing strategies to grow her company. She received lots of press early on by inviting influencers and journalists to join the tour for free, in exchange for some nice photos and an article about their experience. “To have someone tell your story is game changing,” she insists.
She also focused on SEO and content marketing, to ensure that her website was fully optimised. “You have to make it easy for people to find you online,” Jessica emphasises.
As the company continued to grow, Jessica began to invest in paid ads, such as Google Adwords. She also paid to list her business on a local tourism website that many visitors to Denver use when planning their trip to the city.
She also promotes her tours on OTAs such as Viator, Airbnb Experiences, and Get Your Guide. “These are all supplementary ways that we get ourselves out there, ” she explains.
Understanding the logistics of running a food tour
Food tours are deceptively difficult to run because there are so many different things that must be considered at the same time. “There are a lot of things to figure out, particularly on the operations side,” Jessica admits. In addition to providing great information, guides also have to make sure that food allergies are noted down, restaurant suppliers are happy, guests are fed on time, among other things.
When training prospective tour guides, Jessica says: “think about this more like you are hosting a 3 hour dinner party with people who have never met each and you’re going to facilitate those connections and those conversations, and you’re going to get to know people in a way that makes them feel connected to you and the rest of the group. ”
More From This Episode
What were the first steps she took to launch her food tour business? How did she decide which restaurants to partner with? What are some of the pros and cons of working with an OTA? How has she used SEO and content marketing to grow her business? Tune in to learn more from Jessica of Delicious Denver Food Tours!