The 2017 FoodTrekking World event took place last week in Portland, Oregon, USA. The conference was packed with food and beverage business entrepreneurs, tourism offices, professional services providers, technologists, strategists, marketers and other food, beverage, travel and hospitality industry professionals. The 9 speakers over 2 days captivated attendees with their words of wisdom, while delegates enjoyed the best of Portland’s renowned food and drink scene (see picture of one of the walking food tour groups as they pause between stops).

Steven Shomler, local Portland radio personality, author and social media guru kicked off FoodTrekking World with an entertaining and passionate discussion of what to do and not to do in social media marketing today, which surprised many delegates. He looked at today’s most effective social media marketing tools and peered into what the future holds for social media marketing efforts.

Gabi Logan, author of The Six-Figure Travel Writing Road Map: A Step-by-Step Guide to Pitching Your Way to Better Pay, shared her knowledge of storytelling and getting a compelling message out to your audience. One of the takeaways was that a listener needs to Know your company/product, Trust your company/product and then they may Like your company/product. That all comes before they buy.

Over lunch, Erik Wolf shared the state of the food tourism industry today and introduced the World Food Travel Association’s Food Tourism 2025 Initiative, which lays out a road map for our industry’s development for the next few years. One key takeaway was that 93% of travelers now participate in a food or beverage experience other than dining out – in other words, almost everyone now can be considered a food traveler.

After lunch, Stephen Joyce, CEO of Rezgo.com, presented a discussion about technology and its ever-changing face, along with what new technologies like VR and AI, and what they hold for food and beverage travel marketers.

Risa Meynarez, CEO of Consumers Everywhere, and a CNN alumnus, talked about what it takes to market to millennials today and the emergent Generation Z population. Millennials are today’s food travelers and your current and future customers. Risa underscored the need for short messages, a minute or less in length.

Carrie Welch, Co-Founder of Feast Portland, explained what it takes to produce a major food event that captures the attention of travelers. One of the most important lessons Carrie taught is how essential it is to capture the sense of place in an event.

Benjamin Brown, Content Strategy and Development Lead for Princess Cruises, talked about content strategy when marketing food and beverage experiences. One of the most indelible facts from the knowledge he shared is that the sound is turned off on 80% of videos viewed online.

Carol Coren, CEO of Cornerstone Ventures and a consultant to angel fundraisers and venture capital groups, painted a picture of the current funding and lending environment and what businesses need to do to succeed with fundraising today, as well as what changes we can expect on the horizon of financing for smaller businesses. The bottom line: more competition for funding, and also new opportunities on the horizon.

Also on the second day, World Food Travel Association Executive Director interviewed Chase Ramsey, a freelance director and actor, and star of the California Dream Eater mini-series. Chase waxed about lessons learned from his own experience about teaching travelers how to get off the beaten path, as well as what it takes to succeed for lesser known destinations and businesses to succeed in capturing the attention of travelers.

Delegates were thrilled with the quality of the content and speakers. FoodTrekking World 2017 was a tremendous success.