Features

3 ways aspiring restaurateurs can benefit from food festivals

The country fair-inspired McCormick Flavor Nation Festival is the event every home cook and budding entrepreneur shouldn’t miss

Lead photo by Caleb Stokes /Unsplash; Article photos from McCormick Food Festival 2018

There have been a lot of industry trends and developments the past few months alone, which is a problem many aspiring entrepreneurs face: It’s hard to pick out quality resources and expert information from the wealth of mostly generic offerings available. This is an issue since the process of R&D is never static, and while it likewise shouldn’t be confined to a certain set of practices, it would surely help restaurateurs to know which ones are worth their time. Besides going on R&D trips and holding ideation sessions, another valuable option is to attend food festivals.

Food festivals started gaining popularity in recent years as social media became an important business tool

The value of these festivals may not have been significant at least a decade ago, when social media hadn’t yet become indispensable to running a food business. But like how Instagram has become a minefield of ideas, food festivals have just transformed into an oasis of business opportunities. Here, we’ve listed down reasons why an increasingly digitalized industry can benefit from food festivals:

FOOD FESTIVALS PROVIDE A PLATFORM FOR DIGITAL-BASED BUSINESSES

Digitalization has made a brick-and-mortar setup optional. Aspiring restaurateurs don’t necessarily need to set up a physical establishment if they want to start a food business. But while an online business is convenient, there’s still nothing like getting to talk to customers in person. This is where food festivals can come in. They provide digital-based entrepreneurs a platform that can let them display and sell their products, talk to potential customers, collaborators, investors, and even competitors, and experience what it’s like to run a physical business. That it’s a temporary platform only adds to its value—digital-based pop-ups are afforded the benefits of running a physical establishment without the same costs of actually running and maintaining one.

Even if they end in a matter of hours, these festivals can leave its attendees with long-term benefits—opportunities for conversation, network expansion, R&D, and much-needed exposure—and these apply even to online businesses that don’t necessarily need to ease their way into the market.

Take China Mommy for instance, one of the concessionaires at the upcoming McCormick Flavor Nation Festival on Jun. 9. An online enterprise that already has a following, this home-cooked meal business still has a lot to gain from interacting not only with potential customers and other entrepreneurs but also with some of their online patrons. Meeting these customers can strengthen existing patronage and even give way to new ideas via feedback and suggestions communicated firsthand.

FOOD FESTIVALS HIGHLIGHT THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD PARTNERSHIPS

Participating in food festivals can only really be a good business move if restaurateurs know which ones to attend. Can this festival turn in a good profit? Is it usually well-attended? Does this festival share the same vision and goals as my brand? The last question may be the most important since one of the crucial goals is to be able to let the brand shine through. Finding a festival that understands the needs, target audience, and vision of one’s brand is like finding a good business partner—in this case, one that not only anticipates needs but also one that has the capacity to give a brand an extra boost through on-brand promotion, complementary products, and a physical platform.

Having a space at a food festival is like running a physical establishment without the same costs of actually maintaining one

It’s only with these kinds of events that restaurateurs can think about attending food festivals as going into a valuable business partnership. The upcoming McCormick Flavor Nation Festival, with its wide and diverse range of herb and spice selections, foodservice solutions, and a goal to improve food experiences via providing a space to test out new cooking ideas is one that’s built to highlight the value of such partnerships. Since its first run in 2015, it’s been the festival’s mission to emphasize the importance of having a kitchen partner—one that’s convenient, innovative, and accessible to almost anyone who wants to set up a food business.

Meanwhile, attendees who won’t be setting up shop at such a festival can benefit in the same way. Food festivals, if nothing else, are test markets at play. Besides being a site for R&D and networking, they’re also a simulation of how a market would function. From simply trying out the food and interacting with different concessionnaires, people can gauge which trends, ideas, products, setups, and partnerships work and don’t work.

FOOD FESTIVALS ARE SET UP TO PROVIDE KITCHEN SOLUTIONS AND BUSINESS IDEAS

The way food festivals are set up—complete with many different concessionaires, and in the case of the McCormick Flavor Nation Festival, lined up with live cooking demos—guarantees the attendance of certain groups of people. That is, the kind of people any aspiring restaurateur would benefit from meeting. Food festivals are specially designed to ensure that budding entrepreneurs get the kitchen solutions and business ideas they need from both fellow novices and experts.

The McCormick Flavor Nation Festival will be hosting pop-ups, a McCormick Food Truck, and a number of different concessionaires

The needs and questions of home cooks, for instance, are likely to be addressed in these festivals whose main point is to gather in one location culinary ideas and a crowd that cares about and can benefit from these ideas. In other words, by bringing together different key players in the industry, these events are set up in such a way that ensures exposure to a relevant crowd.

The fifth McCormick Flavor Nation Festival will happen on Jun. 9 from 11am to 8pm at the Bonifacio High Street Central Amphitheater.

Event admission is free. You can register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mccormick-flavor-nation-festival-2019-tickets 61418435193 to get a special passport and freebie.

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