How to create a marketing plan for food and drink tours 

Carla Vianna
Carla Vianna
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How to create a marketing plan for food and drink tours 

Who doesn’t love a food and drink tour? Yet if everyone is a fan, you may be wondering why your tour company isn’t already overflowing with bookings.

This is because a comprehensive marketing plan is essential to building that “sold-out tour” reputation. Understanding exactly who you’re selling to is the crux of tour marketing for food and drink tours. 

In this guide, we’ll dive into the key steps to create a successful marketing strategy specifically tailored to food and drink tours.

Define your marketing goals

A tour company’s marketing goals will depend on the specific objectives that the business is trying to achieve.  For a food and drink tour operator, these goals may range from growing a following on social media and attracting new customers to driving more direct bookings and becoming less reliant on Online Travel Agencies.

There are a variety of different ways to achieve your specific marketing goals, including:

  • Content marketing: The creation of valuable online content like blog posts, YouTube videos, and infographics aimed to attract your target audience to your website. When your content is rich in keywords relevant to your tour business, you’ll start organically ranking on Google. This process of optimizing your website to rank on Google is called search engine optimization (SEO) — and content marketing is the most effective way to achieve this.
  • Social media marketing: Having a presence on social media helps food and drink tour operators generate awareness, engage with customers, and increase website bookings. In fact, 33% of users prefer to contact brands via social media (think: an Instagram DM) instead of making a phone call.
  • Automated marketing tools: Automated solutions like our XolaBot can be integrated into your website to engage with guests along their purchase journey. Operators use this tool to offer last-minute deals, recover abandoned bookings, and increase average order value.

Once you’ve defined your company’s particular marketing goals, you’ll be able to build a robust plan that intertwines all of the above.

OKRs vs KPIs

Before getting into the intricacies of your marketing plan, it’s essential to establish clear and measurable goals. That’s where OKRs and KPIs come in. These acronyms stand for Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

OKRs provide a framework for setting ambitious yet achievable goals, while KPIs offer specific metrics to track progress.

For example, if your objective is to enhance customer experience, you’ll set the following OKRs:

  1. Achieve a 20% increase in customer satisfaction ratings on post-tour surveys within the next quarter.
  2. Introduce a new feedback mechanism, resulting in at least 500 customer reviews on online platforms by the end of the year.
  3. Implement one innovative tour enhancement based on customer feedback every quarter.

Meanwhile, you’ll be tracking the following KPI:

  1. Online review ratings, such as the average rating across various online review platforms (e.g., TripAdvisor, Google). This KPI reflects customer satisfaction and influences your brand’s online reputation.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of both OKRs and KPIs.


  • Pros: Encourages ambitious goal-setting and helps get everyone on your staff on the same page. OKRs can be described as a results-oriented approach.
  • Cons: Requires careful planning and execution to ensure objectives are meaningful and attainable, which, albeit, can be seen as a pro on a long term basis.


  • Pros: Provides tangible metrics for evaluating performance, which helps tour companies make smart decisions based on real data.
  • Cons: Sometimes KPIs focus solely on short-term outcomes and potentially overlook broader strategic objectives.

While OKRs guide the achievement of objectives, KPIs provide insights into the health and performance of specific aspects of the business. OKRs are typically set for a specific period, whereas KPIs are continuously monitored. Both OKRs and KPIs play complementary roles in measuring and driving success within a business.

Know Your Customers

Understanding your target audience is fundamental to crafting a marketing strategy that works. Food and drink tour businesses that understand the way their customers think and feel about exploring a new destination will know exactly how to capture them.

Plus, doing the proper customer research will help operators to create tailored experiences that resonate with their audience’s preferences.

Customer research involves digging up your target audience’s demographic data. Identifying key demographic segments such as age, location, and income allows you to create marketing campaigns that reach the right guests at the right time.

It also involves soliciting feedback from past guests through surveys, or delving into online reviews to uncover insights and areas for improvement. This can be done using a variety of automated email or survey platforms.

Finally, analyzing online interaction like social media engagement and website traffic can also shed valuable insights into their preferences.

If there’s one thing you take away from this article, let it be that knowing your customer is key to your food and drink tour’s success.

The 4 phases of a successful marketing plan for a food and drink tour

A well-defined marketing plan serves as a roadmap for tour operators and their marketing directors. It guides their efforts to attract, convert, retain, and analyze customer interactions throughout the marketing funnel. 

That being said, every successful marketing plan should have the following four phases.

1. Attract

The first step is to attract your target customers. In the marketing world, we like to imagine the customer journey as a funnel. This first step, then, would be considered the top of the funnel.

Top of Funnel, or TOFU, is the initial stage of any given marketing plan. Here, the goal is to attract prospective customers by raising awareness around your food and drink tours. Your strategies for attracting customers might range from content marketing to partnerships with local businesses.

Raise a Glass Wine Tours, for example, was the first city-style wine tour in the state of Michigan. In order to break into a market that wasn’t necessarily familiar with a wine tour, the business collaborated with local businesses in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to get the word out and attract curious wine-lovers to the experience.

2. Convert

Once prospective customers are aware of the tours, the focus shifts to converting them into paying participants. This is known as the Middle of Funnel, or MOFU.

We can write dozens of articles about how to convert customers on your website — in fact, we have — but here are a few of the most effective ways:

  • Compelling offers: Create enticing promotions or discounts to incentivize bookings, such as early bird specials or package deals.
  • User-friendly booking experience: Streamline the booking process with an intuitive online booking system. Mint Julep Tours, for instance, gives guests a great first impression by offering them a quick and easy booking experience. They even have started a waitlist feature, which helps give them more control over their tour scheduling and availability.
  • Email marketing: Engage with potential customers through personalized email campaigns or targeted advertising to nurture leads and encourage conversions.

3. Retain and delight

Retaining existing customers and fostering loyalty is essential for long-term success. A high customer retention rate points to high customer satisfaction: If your customers are always coming back to you, that’s a pretty good indicator that you’re doing something right.

Ensure tours exceed customer expectations by delivering memorable experiences and attentive service. Then, solicit feedback from your guests to identify areas for improvement. Answer customer feedback, whether it’s online or in person, to demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction.

Loyalty programs are another great marketing tactic to encourage repeat visits. Rewarding customers with exclusive perks, discounts, or VIP experiences can incentivize future bookings.

4. Analyze

The final phase of the funnel involves analyzing marketing efforts to understand what’s working and how to double-down on that.

At this point, your job is to track KPIs like booking conversion rates, customer retention rates, and customer satisfaction scores to gauge the effectiveness of your campaign. Use data analytics tools to better understand your customers’ preferences and booking patterns.

As you acquire more customer data, you’ll be able to continuously refine your marketing strategies.


A great marketing strategy is molded by clear goals and a keen understanding of the target audience. By diligently analyzing marketing efforts, food and drink tour operators can ultimately enhance the effectiveness of their marketing plan.


Writer Carla Vianna

Carla Vianna

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