With its new custom foodie tours, Lip Smacking Foodie Tours offers a VIP gourmet alternative to dine-arounds and formal dinners.
When Miranda Kutch, CIS, HMCC, senior account executive for The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas was looking to promote her property to Maritz planners with a “wow” event in their hometown of St. Louis, she turned to Donald Contursi, CIS, president of Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, who now offers custom foodie tours beyond Las Vegas.
“Everyone is competing for these planners’ attention with hot tickets to sports events and fancy dinners; this was something unusual. I was able to mingle with our guests in a fun, informal way and to introduce them to an innovative service they can now offer in Las Vegas and anywhere,” she noted.
As with all the company’s tours, the St. Louis Lip Smacking Tour featured VIP treatment at some of the city’s most talked-about, up-and-coming restaurants. As participants walked from one eatery to the next, their guide shared fascinating, little-known tidbits about the city.
Upon arrival at each restaurant, the group was escorted right to the best table and served the venue’s signature cocktail. Then, a parade of signature dishes came out with the chef explaining each one. “That gets the attention of everyone else in restaurant, and makes our guests feel very special,” Contursi said.
Lip Smacking Tours, based in Las Vegas, began offering its dining experiences for leisure travelers. Then, Contursi realized that the concept was perfectly suited to meeting and convention groups and now can customize events in almost any city. “Many groups come every year for same trade conferences, and everyone tends to go to the same places. Our program gets groups out of this rut. It is both an experiential show and the ultimate in VIP dining and often becomes one of the most talked-about events,” he said.
Networking is a natural outgrowth of the format. “People chat as they walk between the venues, cocktails in hand, and because there is no assigned seating, participants tend to sit with different people at each stop. You do that four times and by the end of the dinner, everyone has mixed over food and drinks,” he continued. “One of the comments we get is how great it is not to be stuck next to the same person all night.”
“The tours provide our industry with a totally new kind of dining experience to offer,” said Kutch. “Our guests loved it and many said they were amazed that they learned new things about the city they live in. Comments ranged from “unique, creative and fun” to “this has a real wow factor.”