Skip to main content
Visit Scotland | Alba

Quality food tourism experiences are memorable and engaging. They help businesses to get Scottish food and drink on plates, in glasses, and in shopping bags.

They also help build vibrant local communities and they encourage visitors to book return trips and spread the word about their experience. 

Visitors are now seeking more immersive experiences, going beyond just sampling local cuisine. They want to learn more about the region behind the produce and the local culture and history that influences it.

Popular experiences include:

  • visiting local farms and markets
  • getting behind-the-scenes tours of businesses
  • getting involved in the cooking process before sitting down to enjoy the local cuisine

General good practice advice

  • Be proud of your story

    Your business' story is unique and can help you stand out from the crowd. Don't be shy in showcasing what you are all about - your craft, your relationship with the community and local produce - throughout your food tourism experience and let visitors really get to know the business. 

  • Give a warm welcome

    Scottish people are known globally for their kind and warm nature so make sure your visitors experience this from booking, right through to post-experience communication. 

  • Source local ingredients

    Visitors are looking to sample Scottish culture and cuisine. As well as providing a truly Scottish experience, sourcing local, seasonal produce (where possible) supports the local economy and will help you reach net zero. Discover the best produce available with the seasonality calendar on

  • Have knowledgeable staff

    Make sure your staff know the food experience inside and out. This can take the form of knowing practical information about the experience, the business, its history, and the local area. They should be ready to answer any question a visitor may ask.

  • Be organised and professional

    As a minimum, your experience should be consistent, well-organised and professionally run. Make sure that your tour, talk or event is well-balanced in content and timing so that your visitors are comfortable throughout and consider your facilities and their capacity as well as the necessary regulations you’ll need to operate.

How to create a quality food tourism experience

A bookable experience enables you to offer a memorable opportunity for visitors to interact with your business. You could create a tour, class, activity or tasting. When you go the extra mile to deliver something special, customers will remember it positively, sharing the word with others and helping you build a loyal following through repeat custom. Use the following steps to help you develop a high-quality experience.

Understanding your audience

A great place to start is defining who your ideal visitor will be. This is an important early step to make sure the experience:

  • is designed with your visitors in mind
  • can be personalised to suit their interests and behaviours
  • is promoted through marketing activity via the right channels and with the right content to reach this target market

Once you know which visitors you want to target, get to know everything about them by:

  • analysing their demographics, interests, behaviours and expectations
  • carrying out user research such as surveys, interviews, and feedback analysis
  • mapping out their visitor journey (identify every touchpoint from initial awareness to post-booking follow up)

Browse our "Know your customer" page for more information.

Crafting a unique and compelling offering

How are you going to make your product different to the other food tourism experiences on offer? What small details can you add to make the difference between a good experience and a great experience? Think about how you could:

  • set out what your experience’s unique selling proposition is and what sets you apart from competitors
  • craft a compelling narrative that resonates with your audience and highlights why they should visit
  • create a personalised experience that delights and surprises your visitors
  • partner with other local businesses to demonstrate the quality produce and Scottish tourism experiences on offer in your region

CASE STUDY: At Braeside of Lindores Farm, the owners developed The Hide. This custom-made cabin has a live fire cooking experience with the option to have a private chef cook for visitors. You can read our case study to discover how they delight and surprise their visitors. 

Read our case study on The Hide at Lindores.

Making booking seamless and enjoyable

Don't make your booking process complicated or too long. This could put visitors off from completing the process or they could start the experience with a negative impression. You can make your booking seamless if you:

  • optimise your booking platform to make sure it’s user-friendly, functional on mobile devices, and secure 
  • offer multiple booking channels to cater to your target audiences' preferences (website, phone, app, etc.)  
  • provide clear and detailed information on your website to pre-empt any questions about schedules, cancellation policies, accessibility information, relevant dietary information, how to get to your venue, etc.

Learn more about choosing the right online booking system.

Elevating the pre-visit experience

Once the booking is complete, help your visitors prepare for their arrival by informing them with: 

  • what they can expect through confirmation emails, welcome messages, and any helpful tips
  • how they can contact you if they have any further questions (be transparent about when they can expect a response to manage expectations)
  • testimonials or other video content in their confirmation email that highlights the experience and gives them a taste of what’s to come

Delivering an exceptional visitor experience

Delivering an exceptional visitor experience is about more than just a strong product offer. How you go over and above to make your visitors feel special will have them booking again and shouting about your business to friends and family. Consider how you can:

  • exceed expectations: pay attention to every detail, from punctuality to staff courtesy and service quality. 
  • surprise and delight customers: offer unexpected treats, personalised touches, or unique elements. 
  • encourage interaction and participation: make it engaging and memorable for all involved. 

CASE STUDY: For example, visitors often take pictures eating the homemade muffins from Glenegedale House that are offered during breakfast. As they post these on social media, they generate free publicity for the business.

Browse our case study on the Glenegedale House.

Fostering post-booking engagement

The experience doesn’t end as soon as your visitors have left. You could provide them with some reminders of their time with you or you could make sure to gather feedback, where possible, to continually improve your experience. Consider:

  • sending post-experience surveys; gather feedback and identify areas for improvement
  • sharing photos and videos from the experience to create lasting memories
  • encouraging visitors to share photos on social media to spread the word with their audience
  • offering exclusive deals or promotions that encourage repeat business and build loyalty 
  • measuring and tracking your results, monitoring key metrics, and adapting your approach based on data

Learn more about the importance of managing your online reviews.

Make your food tourism business sustainable

Sustainability is at the heart of profitable businesses that are rooted in their environment and set up for long-term success. It should be an important concern for every business, to ensure its resilience and financial performance. Time spent evaluating the business holistically will pay dividends in reducing costs and carbon footprint.

Take a look at some of the areas to consider and use our resources to start taking action against climate change. 

Building resilience against the negative effects of climate change

Look at each area of the business and consider if and how sustainable improvements can be made, including:

  • your supply chain
  • stock levels
  • purchasing
  • waste, energy, and water use
  • cleaning and disposable equipment used
  • materials, packaging, and transport of goods
  • people, including staff and visitors

Implementing sustainable practices across your business

The following suggestions could offer you more concrete ideas on how to reduce the area of your carbon footprint that's specifically related to food:

  • buy food and drink from local suppliers to help reduce food miles
  • plan menus and collect pre-orders from visitors to avoid waste
  • use seasonal produce to reduce costs and provide high quality, fresh food and drink
  • add seasonal and local twists to your menus, rather than using imported produce
  • share your climate actions with your visitors to promote responsible tourism in Scotland
  • identify areas of waste and research options to reduce, reuse and recycle where possible

Sustainability resources

Related links