The demand for cooking classes in the segment of tourism and entertainment has continued to grow season after season. The professional who wants to offer this kind of gastronomic experience needs to evaluate several aspects while developing the project. In this post, we will talk about ten essential items to start a cooking class business focused on food tourism and entertainment.
10 essential items to start a cooking class business for tourism and entertainment
1. Market Research
It is important to conduct market research before starting any business activity. The results of this survey will help identify opportunities and challenges for your business as well as market trends.
When conducting your market research, consider the following questions:
- Supply and Demand – Are there any cooking classes in the region that you plan to offer? What is the demand for this kind of experience?
- Competition – If so, how many businesses are there? What is the model of these classes? What are the key features of these businesses and how do they differ from each other?
- Target Market – Who attends these classes? What do they look for? What is their main motivation?
- Price – How much is this public willing to pay for classes? What is the price charged by competitors?
2. Target Market and Persona
After analyzing the market, you will have a clearer view of your competitor’s features, market price, and customers. Now, it is time to define your own target market. By definition, your target market represents the group of people you target your products, services, and marketing campaigns. Target market characteristics include region, age, gender, marital status, income, and preferences.
Assuming your region attracts a large number of domestic and foreign tourists, let’s consider some examples of target-market:
- Local tourists, over 18 years old, like to cook, during a trip they look for activities and experiences related to entertainment and gastronomy.
- Foreign tourists, over 25, English speakers, high purchasing power, want to understand the local food culture and learn traditional dishes.
- Food enthusiasts, not necessarily tourists, over 25 years old, want to learn different recipes for cooking a full dinner.
- Families with children, either tourists or not, want a different activity for the whole family to have fun together.
As you may have noticed, depending on the audience you define, the model of your cooking class, marketing campaigns, and even the language of the class will differ.
Also read: Who are the food travellers
Once the target market is defined, you can create some personas.
The concept of persona is widely used in digital marketing and has emerged as a way to humanize your target market to direct your marketing campaign more objectively.
To do this, define a person who is part of the target market, start characterizing the persona with name, age and gender. Consider your preferences, needs, habits, and how your product or service serves as a solution to what this person is looking for.
Example of Persona:
Roberta, 30, single, she loves to try new dishes and learn about different cultures, likes to cook and have contact with the countryside, but has no time to do so on a daily basis. She wants to enjoy the holidays to compensate for her stressful routine with little free time. Roberta seeks out outstanding experiences and likes to meet people with similar preferences.
So, which kind of cooking class would she be most interested in? How would you sell this class to her? This is the strategy of creating personas.
3. Physical structure
The class model you define will likely influence the physical structure required for these classes and vice versa.
If you already have a space to use, then you will need to plan the class accordingly. We talk in more detail in the sessions below.
Regarding physical structure, give preference to a ventilated and clean environment with a toilet. Ideally, your kitchen layout should have enough space for people to observe the instructor, interact with each other and move around while cooking without risk of accidents.
➜ Make sure that the structure used is in compliance with local legislation for cooking classes including health surveillance and regulatory guidelines.
A good location is always a plus, but what is a good location for you to start a cooking class business?
Nowadays, with the popularity of platforms like Airbnb, you don’t have to concentrate all of your options in a place near hotels and tourist areas, besides that this option can increase some relevant costs, eg. the rental cost.
The criteria for the location may vary depending on your public and class style. There are cooking classes on farms, classes in tourist centres, at the chef’s house and other localities.
It is important to evaluate the logistics, whether there is easy access with public transportation, driver applications or even hire a van to pick up customers at some common point.
A good idea for food tourists is to take them to a market where you can start the first part of your class. In this case, it is even better if your space is close to traditional markets and fairs.
5. Class Planning
There are several models of cooking classes when we talk about free courses for tourism and entertainment. The more interactive and hands-on, the better! However, we also understand that in some cases there is a space limitation.
The model you choose tends to be closely aligned with the physical structure, the number of students per class, and target-market. Our suggestion is to divide the class into 4 steps, so it is easier to plan your class.
- Part 1 – Introduction
- Part 2 – Presentation of dishes and ingredients
- Part 3 – Preparation and Elaboration
- Part 4 – Tasting
Let’s use an example of a Cooking Class for Foreign Tourists.
Imagine it will be a class for a group of 4 tourists, each has enough space to cut the ingredients, but there is only one stove. In this case, we could have a model where the starters, main course and dessert are prepared simultaneously by all.
Part 1 – Introduction:
At the beginning of the class, the instructor introduces himself with the group, talks a little about the cuisine of the country, the differences of each region and what is typical of that destination.
Parte 2 – Food Presentation:
Then he presents the dishes that will be prepared and the historical context of these dishes. It explains all the ingredients that will be used and comments on some possible substitutions so that foreign travellers can replicate the recipe in their homes.
Then it’s time for the more technical part. The instructor briefly demonstrates how to do something more specific to the preparation and gives safety tips.
Parte 3 – Elaboration:
Hands-on! During class, each student does a little of each activity while the instructor coordinates the preparation of the recipe.
Parte 4 – Tasting:
Finally, everyone sits together and share the meal as one big family while they talk about the class experience and other topics of interest.
6. Menu Definition
The menu options are practically endless because it depends on the gastronomic identity you want to represent with the classes. An important point about the menu is to have transparency in terms of flexibility with ingredients and make it clear if your class accommodates vegetarians, vegans and people with food allergies.
If you are unable to detail these points on your website or marketing campaign, have at least a statement about flexibility terms and give one contact channel to clarify any questions before people sign up.
This way you can prevent people with food restrictions from signing up for your class without knowing they can’t eat the dish you teach. On the other hand, if you’re flexible with ingredients and adaptations, this contact channel will give you time to adapt the class and prepare everything in advance.
Remember that the presentation of the dishes is an excellent way to represent the food culture of the region. Try to represent the local traditions and eating habits as well as how the dishes are served and decorated.
➜ The demand for vegetarian and vegan dishes has considerably increased. Have you thought about selecting traditional vegetarian recipes and creating classes only with typical dishes that are originally vegetarian?
7. Equipment and Utensils
Everything we have said so far is very interconnected and will be no different with the equipment and accessories. Depending on the model of your class, you will need more or less equipment and utensils.
If students are more actively involved in the preparation of dishes, it is important to have pots, cutting boards, knives, pans available for each. In a more demonstrative model, where the instructor performs most of the recipe, fewer cutting and preparing utensils are required.
8. Financial Planning
Financial planning is essential to the sustainability of any business, including cooking classes.
No matter how hard we work to make food tourism accessible and give options to anyone seeking this kind of experience, any business requires investment and carries an operating cost that needs to be paid with revenues from products and services.
To start your class we recommend defining two types of a financial plan: initial investment and operating cost.
All expenses that are necessary to set up your class including the purchase of equipment and utensils, kitchen renovation, branding, company registrations, etc.
Operating cost includes everything you need to spend to get your business up and running. Key expenses include space rent, electricity bills, electricity, cleaning products, ingredients, marketing and advertising expenses.
Financial planning when properly tracked will help you calculate the break-even point of the business, which means the time when business revenues cover the initial investment plus operating costs for the period.
➜ Break-even is an excellent index that defines the minimum price and volume you need to cover all fixed and variable expenses of your business. With this analysis you define the minimum revenue needed to generate profit and avoid losses.
9. Marketing and Sales
Let’s say you decided to start a cooking class business in your own home and you already have everything structured and defined. What is the next step?
If you thought about attracting customers and selling, you got it right. We now need to define a pricing and advertising strategy, attract your audience, and convert that audience into real customers.
Nowadays, the internet is the best channel to start marketing your business and attracting your audience, but you need to plan a marketing strategy and use the available tools accordingly. Also, there are specific platforms for selling tourist experiences, including cooking classes?
10. Customer Relationship
Your class was a success! Congratulations! What happens next? Have you heard about after sales strategy? Think about your client, what happens after he leaves your class?
Work with feedback so you can keep improving, ask them to do online assessments, implement referral discounts. There are many strategies that will help you maintain a good online reputation and satisfied customers.
An excellent tip is to email the class recipes with some extra information and use this opportunity to request a satisfaction survey and online reviews on existing social networks and platforms: TripAdvisor, Facebook, Google, etc.
Start planning your cooking class business right now
To create and start a cooking class business is more than just cooking, it requires market research and a lot of planning.
People want experiences that take them out of their routine, prepare a class that goes beyond the taste. The gastronomic experience is able to activate all our senses. Teach techniques, tell stories, talk about ingredients, let people have fun like they’re on a journey to the origins of the dishes.