The Perfect Moment

The Perfect Moment

           Sponsoring large events, like the Super Bowl, is a great way for brands to get their name out there, but is it really the best way for brands to make a cultural mark? Being a part of these large events has its pros, but it also has the ability to overshadow the sponsoring brands. Rather than latching on to someone else’s moment, we at The Connect Group think brands should start focusing on creating an experience they can define and own themselves. This can create room for a richer brand experience, and also help consumers start to see brands as a larger lifestyle, not just a product. Many larger brands have already tapped into this idea and have had major success because of it, here are a few examples of these brands and what they have done to create their own moments:

Chipotle

           In 2010, Chipotle launched Cultivate. Cultivate is a one-day, free festival that brings people together to celebrate food and music. This festival offers live music and on-site chef demonstrations, as well as interactive experiences focused on sustainable food. Beyond offering a fun space for consumers to have a good time, Chipotle also uses the festival as a platform to encourage attendees to think and talk about food in an engaging setting.  Now in its six year, Cultivate has partnered with countless other brands including Naked Juice, and California Avocados, and has proved to be a successful marketing tool for the brand. Rather than piggybacking off other brands events, Chipotle has created its own, and the success of Cultivate is a true testament to the power of brands creating their own moment. 

Budweiser

           Budweiser’s Made in America music festival is an event I have been to myself, so I can testify its popularity. This music festival features some of the top artists in the country and attracts nearly 80,000 people each year. Budweiser partners with Live Nation to create this wildly popular show that now takes place in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Budweiser took a risk by creating their own festival, but this moment still has consumers excited and thinking about Budweiser as a brand, making the risk worth the reward.

Bacardi

           Partnering with Swizz Beatz and the Dean Collection, Bacardi produced an event called No Commission: Art Performs. This four-day, immersive brand experience showcased art, music, and of course delicious cocktails. This event had consumers going nuts for the product. Not only did more than 7,000 people attended this event but it also received over 500 million social impressions, including coverage from The New York Times, W Magazine, the Huffington Post, and more. Like Chipotle and Budweiser, Bacardi created their own branding event, and it payed off.

           Since part of our job here at The Connect Group is helping brands get creative and come up with these unique moments, we understand how beneficial it can be to think outside of the marketing box; and although these “moments” can take time to develop, if they are done right the investment can yield a higher ROI than a traditional sponsorship. By creating these types of moments, brands like Chipotle, Budweiser, and Bacardi can display their own unique values and identity while simultaneously selling their products, which is a winning situation in our book.

Food, the Universal Valentine

Food, the Universal Valentine

          Whatever your opinion of Valentine’s Day is, it is undoubtedly one of the most prominent food connected holidays of the year.  Whether you are single going out with your friends for a family style dinner, enjoying an intimate dinner with your partner, or getting broccoli thrown at you during a family hibachi night (yes, that one is me), food is at the center of this holiday.

          For proof, look no further than the National Retail Federation, which estimated that Americans spent just shy of $19 billion on Valentine’s Day-related items this year.

          In response to this, brands (and restaurants) are getting smart and using the Valentine’s Day craze to brand and market their products. Below are a few examples of how brands and restaurants are hopping on this marketing “love train.”

Tesco

Tesco is getting consumers in the valentine’s spirit through a promotion that matches people up according to what items they buy at the Grocery Store. http://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/ad-day-tesco-plays-matchmaker-valentines-day-basket-dating-169551/

Burger King

Burger King took a hint from Christian Grey by offering an Adult only Meal Box with an adult toy inside. http://www.foodandwine.com/fwx/food/burger-king-sex-toy-meal?xid=soc_socialflow_facebook_fw

          We at TCG are romantics at heart so to share some love ourselves, we came up with a few Valentine’s Day ideas we would love to see come to life:

LOVE & FOOD POP UP

For one night only, we would love to see a brand create a full custom Valentine’s Day Pop Up restaurant that offers 100 lucky couples the opportunity to experience love and food in a way they never have before. Partnering with a high profile celebrity chef to design and execute a mind blowing menu in an environment that evokes love and connection would be the perfect setting for a romantic evening.  Reservations for the Love & Food Pop Up would only be available the day before or the morning of Valentine’s Day and via a social media competition, making it a more exclusive and appealing ticket.

The Relationship Saver

Built for a brand with a “saving you money” message (insurance, wireless, etc), this program would be built to “Save” the relationship of those boyfriends/husbands/wives/girlfriends who waited too long to make a reservation and ended up with nothing. The brand (via an agency like Connect) would secure a number of high profile, prime time reservations at the best restaurants across the country on Valentine’s Day with the intent of giving them out to those who need them the most. To participate in the program, consumers would upload video pitches on why their relationships deserved to be “saved”, which would then be posted on a subsite and voted on by the general public. This promotion would be pushed out via the celebrity chefs who own the restaurants, select influencers, and via an aggressive PR/Social campaign.  

The At Home Night Out

For those who don’t want to brave the restaurant scene on V-Day, but still want to do something special for the one they love (and don’t have cooking skills), a brand could create a consumer promotion that involves celebrity chefs in multiple markets cooking Valentine’s Day dinners in the privacy of the select consumers’ homes.

          Food, like Love, is one of the few things that crosses language barriers, unites the soul and truly taps into the emotional spirit of humans across the world (something we all need right now).  It is from that place of love that strong brand affinity is created and brand loyalty is established.  So brands, put on your thinking caps, spread the love and let’s use Valentine’s day 2018 to create programs to reach the ever important food connected audience.   

Much love and eating

- Lonny Sweet

 

Super Bowl Follow Up: From the Eyes of the Food-Connected

Super Bowl Follow Up: From the Eyes of the Food-Connected

            Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few days, you may have heard something about Super Bowl 51.  Yes, the Patriots pulled off the most miraculous comeback in the sport’s illustrious history.  Yes, Tom Brady is officially in a class all his own with 5 rings and 4 Super Bowl MVP’s – which [sigh] officially makes him the greatest to ever do it.  And yes, that sound you just heard was this Jets fan dry heaving as he is forced to publicly admit that.  All kidding aside, Super Bowl 51 gave us one of the most exhilarating, dramatic and simply put, remarkable championship games in history – something this country needed desperately in these divisive times.  

            As great as the game proved to be, for those lucky enough to experience Super Bowl’s physical footprint first hand, you know it to be much more than just a game.  Every year, the host city opens its doors to sports fans, corporate America and blue-chip brands alike to give them the experience of a lifetime, and it just so happens that there’s a football game at the end of it all.  It should come as no surprise, but food plays an integral role in the “Super Bowl experience”. 

           Every city has its own identity, its own culture, cuisine, etc.  Houston has a story all its own.  Situated on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, its historically native cuisine can best be described as Tex-Mex meets Louisiana Creole meets Texas BBQ, yet is in the midst of a culinary revolution, drawing inspiration from the city’s incredibly diverse populace (try the Vietnamese inspired Cajun spots!).  David Chang, one of NYC’s most popular restaurateurs recently declared Houston to be “the next global food mecca”, a powerful statement by a culinary superstar. While I may not have appreciated it, that notion came to life for me as I walked the streets of Houston, looking for the perfect meal. 

            For the uninitiated, I beg you to make your way to one of Houston’s cajun bars and order yourself a mountain of crawfish (don’t cheap out on the spice – thank me later), then seek out some tacos at the nearest Tex-Mex joint , and wrap up your trip with some proper BBQ.  We say it all the time; if you want to experience true local culture, find out where the natives eat and act accordingly. You may be surprised by what you find. 

            I was fortunate enough to walk through the ‘NFL Live’ footprint and enjoy a late lunch at one of the food trucks littered around the perimeter.  I kid you not, there was even a monster truck, of sorts, transformed into a mobile demo kitchen wherein local chefs gave interactive demonstrations on how to cook like a true Houstonian. The crowds were huge, people were well-fed and they all left talking about the FOOD, not just the big game looming. 

            When you’re catering to a “who’s who” group of VIPs, average just doesn’t cut it when it comes to the grub.  Wheels Up’s annual Super Bowl bash, traditionally one of the week’s more exclusive parties, perfectly highlighted the local cuisine and offered everything from crawfish and oysters to tacos and real, Texas ‘cue. No one left that party hungry (or thirsty, for that matter). 

            Chase took a different route to highlight the local fare, hosting a series of private dinners at one of Houston’s top restaurants, Reef.  Exclusively available to Chase’s Inside Access members, the dinner paired Houston’s top chef, Bryan Caswell, with New Orleans mainstay, John Besh and local Houston pastry chef Rebecca Masson to offer attendees a unique insight into Houston hospitality. The result was a refined dining experience that left the attendees in awe. 

            Maybe you’ve missed it or haven’t been paying attention, but the trend has been building for quite some time now. Nowadays, you don’t go to a ballgame and seek out a cheap hot dog; you expect refined food service offerings. Stadiums, arenas and even airports around the country are in the midst of a culinary revolution, highlighting local cuisine, celebrity chefs and a refined dining culture.  If you’re hosting a private event, or a big blue-chip brand looking to activate in the marketing vertical, remember, food can be more than just a simple meal.  It’s a sensory experience - an opportunity to provide deeper, more meaningful connections with your audience. 

            You want your event to really resonate?  Give your guests something they’ve never had, open their eyes to something they’ve never seen, and let them experience culture like never before. Food is the ultimate medium to do just that….

Super Branding

Super Branding

              The New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons are not the only ones gearing up for Super Bowl LI, this NFL Championship game is also extremely important for marketers and brands. With over 100 million viewers each year, having your product in a Super Bowl commercial is a guaranteed (but expensive) way for brands to make themselves known. This year advertisers are thinking outside of the box to keep viewers engaged. As Bruce Lefkowitz, the executive VP of ad sales for Fox Networks Group said, “Companies are rethinking how they can ensure getting attention, and awareness from viewers.”

               Mars, the company behind Snickers and the famous “you’re not you when you’re hungry” slogan, is taking an attention-grabbing risk by filming their commercial live during the third quarter of the football game. Allison Miazga-Bedrick, the Snickers brand director said, “every year we challenge ourselves to find new ways to satisfy our fans hunger for entertainment by delivering something new and breakthrough, and there is no better way than being the first to have a Super Bowl live ad.” Recently, live ads have been gaining traction on many TV channels. For example, in December, during the NBC broadcast of the musical “Hairspray Live” brands like Oreo, Toyota, and Reddi-Wip all used live ads to attract customers. Marketers and Advertisers are using live ads because it is an effective way to draw more attention and capitalize on excitement from TV or Facebook, and anything that happens in real time. This makes the audience feel like they’re not being forced to watch commercials, but are actually part of a captive live experience. In an effort to gain additional awareness and excitement from viewers, Mars is hosting a 36-hour live stream on their website and Facebook page which will begin Thursday before the game. Although not many details have been revealed about the 36-hour live stream, the brand did say that the stream will tie into the commercials western theme and be a fully integrated 360 campaign to reinforce the brand's connection to hunger satisfaction.

               Brands like Mars are working hard to appeal to customers. They are staying on top of the trends by tapping into the growing interest in live streaming, and the Super Bowl is the best platform for them to get in front of the largest number of customers. Hopefully these live ads run smoothly during the game; and more importantly, hopefully the Falcons take down the Patriots, because as attractive as Tom Brady is, I really don’t want to see him take home his fifth Super Bowl title.   

- Kate Moelis

What's on the Menu That's Gluten-Free, Organic, non-GMO, No Dairy, No Sugar?

What's on the Menu That's Gluten-Free, Organic, non-GMO, No Dairy, No Sugar?

During our holiday break, my family hosted two giant Christmas dinners and I went to San Francisco for 4 days so I did some seriously indulgent eating and drinking. This is why my friends were able to convince me, a self proclaimed cheese and soy sauce-a-holic, to commit to a 2-week no sugar, no gluten, no dairy (aka “no fun”) diet.  My first thought when I committed to this ridiculous-sounding diet was “what the heck am I going to eat???” Turns out, the answer is a lot.

Over the last couple years, the food industry has seen a huge boom in healthy, organic, and all-natural products. Many brands are focusing on either developing or acquiring health-centric foods, largely due to the fact that there has been a 30% growth of consumers in the US with food allergies. General Mills was one of the big brands to release gluten-free products, seeing a predicted growth in sales of $10.6 billion for the category, and has released several gluten-free versions of their products, including Cheerios.

And even though our society has long been obsessed with the newest diet or health trend (remember “South Beach Diet” or Olestra?), it seems as though this will be less of a trend and more of a cultural shift. Consumers are even willing to pay more money for products that promise to be healthier and/or aid in weight loss. According to Forbes, 88% of those polled are willing to pay more for healthier foods and this includes all age demographics.

This shift towards being more health-conscious isn’t only with consumer products. According to the National Restaurant Association site, more than seven out of 10 adults try to eat healthier when they go out to a restaurant than they did two years ago.  And the government is even trying to help us on the path towards more healthful eating, creating a law in 2010 that requires U.S. Restaurants with more than 20 locations to display calorie counts. It may not have been the main factor to help significantly lower sales at McDonalds but it certainly makes people question their order when they see the “563 calories” under a Big Mac.

What does this all mean for brands and restaurants? I don’t think it’s necessarily time to get rid of the deep fryers and baked goods. But I do think restaurants and chefs, who historically have had a “no substitutions” attitude when it comes to their dishes and menu, should pay close attention to this shift towards healthy and allergen-free eating and adapt their menus accordingly. It also means that if I continue with my “no fun” diet for another two weeks, I’ll have lots of choices when I go to the grocery store.

- Cassandre Pallas

 

 

To phone, or not to phone, that is the mealtime question...

To phone, or not to phone, that is the mealtime question...

A week or so ago a friend of mine sent me a video of Simon Sinek, an author and motivational speaker, discussing “The Millennial Question” (worth the time to watch). While Mr. Sinek brings up more than a handful of insightful, interesting, as well as disturbing points during the interview, I wanted to focus on one that directly impacts the culinary marketing business- mealtime. 

During the interview, Mr. Sinek talks about how living in a social media focused world impacts our ability to create deep, and meaningful relationships. He points out that dopamine is actually released into the body when we receive a text or a like during social media interactions; the same dopamine levels as when an alcoholic drinks or a gambler gambles.  This sudden chemical release is the root cause of physical addiction, which is why as a culture we are becoming more and more dependent on cellphones and social media.

How does this relate to the culinary world one might ask? Well, here is a question for you- If you go out to dinner, have a coffee with someone, or share some time at a table with family or friends, is your phone on the table? Do you take your phone out to look at texts or emails during a meal, instead of just being in the moment and actually enjoying your company? More than likely, if you are being honest with yourself, you answered yes (I know I did, but i'm working on changing my habits). Cellphones are changing mealtimes from a social experience to a social media one, which to Mr. Sinek’s point has a negative effect on relationships.

This has not gone without notice in the restaurant world, a few establishments have actually taken it upon themselves to try and shift behaviors, by offering guests incentives to put their phones away and focus on reconnecting with the people they are with. Most recently, Chick-fil-A created a Family Challenge, offering families free dessert if they put their phones in a cell phone “coop” for their entire meal.  Kudo’s to Chick-Fil-A for taking a proactive stance on this issue and actually coming up with a great incentive to keep people off their phones during mealtime.

So the question is, if we know we are a culture addicted to technology, what do we do and how does this change the way we, as marketers, look at mealtime?  How can brands play a role in helping to bring people and families back together over the dinner table? Will there be new apps/technology that help to do this (yes, I know that’s somewhat counter intuitive)? Or will we see more restaurants using incentives as a tactic?

Whatever the solution may be, mealtime is where relationships are built, memories are formed and lessons are learned, so please make the effort to put the phone down and enjoy the company you are with!

- Lonny Sweet, CEO

A New Beginning

Full disclosure, I’m a “sports guy” through and through.  I’m proudly fanatical about the teams I love, incensed by the teams I loathe, and I relish any opportunity to tell you all about it (ask, if you dare.)  It was that passion that led me to a career in sports marketing; a job I truly enjoyed waking up for every day – some may go so far as to call it a “dream job”.  Alas!  This sports fanatic has recently taken a sharp left turn and traded in his cleats for knives and a career in the ever-evolving culinary marketing vertical.  How could this be?  Who gives up their dream job?  I did – and I traded it to chase a dream. 

Interestingly, cooking (really, food in general) has always been my second love.  I grew up in a home that stressed the importance of family dinners every night; bringing everyone together to share more than a meal – we were sharing our lives with each other. We told stories, complained about work, school and menial nuances of life that drive us all nuts, but at the end of the meal it was always the same.  We were happy.  Well-fed, to be sure (thanks mom!), but it was far more than that.  For a family of 5, it’s not easy to get everyone in the same room at the same time.  Something as simple as dinner made that happen, and thankfully there were no cell phones or social media channels to distract us.  We relied on actual conversation.  The horror! 

Food has an inherent unifying quality that I find fascinating.  If I want to REALLY connect with you, we need to share a meal (and, perhaps, more than a few drinks); I find it cathartic to eat the foods you love with the people who mean the most to you.  As I grew older, my passion for cooking (moreover, bringing people together through food & drink) grew with me, and maybe that’s why I’m here now.

Over the past decade, the culinary world has exploded in the best way possible.  As a marketer by trade and a “foodie” by nature, to see chefs enjoy the type of celebrity traditionally reserved for movie stars and athletes was a sight for sore eyes.   

The meteoric growth of the culinary industry, especially from a marketing standpoint, is why I’m here.  I’ve seen companies activate around food in the last 10 years the way they’ve historically rallied around sports and pop culture.  I’ve seen chefs walk into a room and witnessed the jaw-dropping excitement they generate.  I’ve seen, first-hand, the breadth of what it truly means to be a culinary celebrity, and it blows me away. 

So here I am – a man chasing a dream and I could not be more excited.  I truly believe we have an opportunity to make our mark and be the driving force to benefit the next wave of chefs and the foodies of tomorrow.  The culinary world has been put on a pedestal and with it, we can change people’s lives.  It certainly doesn’t hurt that we can eat well in the process.  That’s my dream.  

Why Trends Predictions Matter

Why Trends Predictions Matter

Closing out 2016 meant looking ahead at 2017 and trying to anticipate what it might bring. We do this each new year: reflect on what’s past and think about how it might impact what’s to come. It’s the time of year during which we ask ourselves what we could have done better, how we can turn over new leaves and how we can apply last year’s learnings to next year’s endeavors.

Thinking specifically about the world of food and culinary marketing, how can we apply the patterns of past years to determine what might transpire in the next one, and how can we leverage those learnings to make this new year the best one yet? Well, let’s look at a few of this year’s trends projections to see if we can figure it out…  

We’ve spent a lot of time on this blog delving into the minds of Gen Z. This is a generation raised on technology and immediate access to information. They’re poised to be the biggest food industry spender so it’s important to think of ways to grab (and hold!) their attention.

According to Forbes, “A new generation is about to take the food scene by storm, leaving Millennials with their constant search for what’s next in the dust. Gen Z is more likely to eat fresh home-cooked meals and healthier QSR offerings and think that cooking is cool. They prefer stove-top to microwave cooking and are more intuitive cooks. For them, the most ethnically diverse generation, ethnic foods are the norm. This 50 million strong generation – now 5 to 20 year old – have been shaped by the recession and terrorism and as a result are willing to work hard for a stable future. They are financially cautious and demand good value from the foods they consumer in and out of home. They hate corporate greed, don’t trust brands and demand transparency.”

It’s no surprise then that most major outlets are predicting that authenticity, quality and technology will continue to shape the food scape in 2017 – and it’s up to us to board this train fast. Some of the projected food trends leading us into 2017 include:

1)      Immediate access to information: People want more information, about food (and everything else) and as a result we are bombarded with too much content, fake food news and poorly designed recipes. Look for the new foodscape to be simple, stand out, engage and be multisensational – and all that comes through the next generation of food communication through gamification, edu-tainment and AVA triggered content. The digital foodscape is the language of the Millennials and Gen Z.

2)      Augmented Transparency (AT) – otherwise known as virtual reality: AT will change the way we gather information about foods in an immersive, engaging and empowering way. This technology will allow for multi-panel deep dives into the nutritional information, ingredients, sourcing all across the supply-chain to answer questions that shoppers have. From customized recipes, nutrition tours and educational events, AT will offer expert level knowledge on demand and filtered based on one’s personal interests and change the perspective of the food world into a 360-degree view.

3)      Silicon Valley & Food: It is estimated that over $1 billion has been invested in food startups and projects in 2016 alone. Why does Silicon Valley love food? Food meets the sustainability portfolio requirements for investing – and has the potential to make a positive impact on the world. High-tech food entrepreneurs like Rob Reinhart, CEO of Soylent, feels that “the food system is too complex and too fragile. Farms are inefficient due to climate and labor conditions,” and have a different model for a food brand or restaurant. For them the criteria includes having a social conscience, being health driven, solving a problem (life-hacking) and most importantly a mass-market orientation.

I think we’ll be talking a lot more about how to market to consumers through virtual reality experiences in the years to come. Audiences are demanding more immediate access to information and through technology, we’re able to bring it to them in unprecedented ways.

The team here at TCG is determined to stay ahead of the curve and think differently about making sure our clients’ messages are well received and that we’re building advocacy among target audiences. The world of technology is moving quickly and rather than resist, we’re celebrating this evolution by consistently thinking of new and innovative ways to leverage its possibilities. I’m eager to see what 2017 brings and couldn’t be more excited to ring in a new year that I’m certain will be more creative, inventive and ground breaking than the last. 

'Tis the Season for Brands

'Tis the Season for Brands

2016 marks my first holiday season living in New York City. As I try my best to cheerfully walk up and down the crowded streets of New York, I can’t help but notice that the holidays are everywhere you look- from the elaborate window displays on Fifth Avenue to the Rockettes performing at Radio City. There is no shortage of holiday spirit. This Christmas craze is not only exciting for consumers, but it also presents a lot of opportunities for brands to get their names out there and integrate themselves amongst the holiday cheer.

Urbanspace, which was founded in 1970 as Urban Space Management, was created to develop environments rich in creativity where artisans and entrepreneurs can succeed. Every year starting right around Thanksgiving, Urbanspace creates four or five pop-up holiday markets throughout the city, one of these markets is located in Union Square, and was named “THE holiday destination for New Yorkers and tourists alike.” This pop-up offers great opportunities for brands to gain exposure during the holiday season. Places like Union Square are key because they present both consumer and business to business opportunities for brands. From the millions of commuters passing by each week, to the wide range of art, music, food, etc. vendors that are selling their own goods, brands can’t go wrong setting up shop here. Milk Bar, the sister bakery of the Momofuku restaurant group is a great example of a well-known vendor that keeps coming back year after year because of their annual success.

Another Urbanspace holiday pop-up market with interesting branding opportunities is located in Bryant Park. Along with smaller vendors (as seen in Union Square), this pop-up market has larger sponsorship opportunities dedicated to select areas. For example, the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park. Clearly sponsored by Bank of America, this area includes an ice rink, Polar Lounge, and a Snackbar by Public Fare. Another integrated sponsor is Southwest Airlines. To help spread the word about their brand, Southwest Airlines has created “Southwest Porch at Bryant Park,” which offers a full bar, an al fresco lounge, and plenty of power outlets so guests can hang out while refueling their devices (which we all know is very important these days),

The holiday season is one of the most important times for brands. Whether restaurants such as Milk Bar, or a huge corporate company like Bank of America, the November and December months are key for brands looking ahead to the New Year. These holiday pop-up markets are the perfect way to gain visibility in some of the most crowded areas of the city, and offer a lot of potential for new customers and business to business opportunities. So even though most businesses will probably never run as smoothly as Santa’s workshop, getting involved in pop-ups like the Urbanspace Markets is a great way to spread holiday cheer, as well as create new opportunities for individual brands.

- Kate Moelis

First Class Dining

First Class Dining

I recently had a lot of time to kill at the Chicago O’Hare restaurant and while I would normally sit at a bar near my gate and enjoy one (ok fine, probably two) martinis, I instead decided check out the new Publican Tavern by One Off Hospitality in Terminal 3. As I looked around the restaurant with it’s dark wood tables and dim lighting while enjoying my Little Gem salad with buttermilk vinaigrette on a vintage-printed plate, I actually forgot for a moment that I was sitting in an airport.

With the rise in U.S. domestic travel, up 3.3 percent from 2014 to nearly 2.2 billion trips in 2015, there are more people than ever traveling through airports. And these guests are a captive audience with people spending an average of 75 minutes at large airports (sometimes even more if their flight is delayed). So airports are answering travelers’ desire for great food with fresh, new restaurants, some with a celebrity chef attached. Gone are the days of plastic-wrapped sandwiches and salads. For example, Newark airport has been rolling out upgrades their Terminal C restaurants including concepts by Chefs Dale Talde, Alex Stupak, and Maria Carbone. So far, it appears that the elevated food & beverage programs in airports have certainly paid off. In 2013, U.S. airports generated $587 million from food and beverage sales alone. For airports, putting more focus on culinary is a smart strategy. There’s the obvious overall increased revenue but also, since the airport is the first and last experience of a traveler’s trip, it’s the best place to make a lasting, positive impression.

Airports aren’t the only ones in the travel industry working with celebrity chefs. The reputation of the food on board flights in the past has never been very high with rubbery chicken, soggy pasta, or grey-colored beef. In order to overcome this stereotype, a lot of major airlines created menu consulting partnerships with chefs like Michelle Bernstein for Delta or Alfred Portale for Singapore Airlines. Even though their food is mostly reserved for business or first class, airlines are paying more attention to their on board menus because it brings more value to their brand and increases the overall customer experience.