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The Role of Food and Gastronomy in Online Travel Reviews about Agritourism Experiences. The case of Italy
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The Role of Food and Gastronomy in Online Travel Reviews about Agritourism Experiences. The case of Italy

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Presentation at the 3rd International Conference UNITWIN ...

Presentation at the 3rd International Conference UNITWIN
UNESCO Chair “Culture, Tourism, Development”
"Tourism and Gastronomy Heritage: Foodscapes, Gastroregions and Gastronomy Tourism", Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. June 18th 2014
By Elena Marchiori, Fabienne Boegli, Asta Adukaite, and Lorenzo Cantoni, webatelier.net of Faculty of Communication Sciences at the Università della Svizzera italiana (USI Lugano, Switzerland).

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  • 1. The Role of Food and Gastronomy in Online Travel Reviews about Agritourism Experiences. The case of Italy Elena Marchiori Fabienne Boegli Asta Adukaite Lorenzo Cantoni
  • 2. Introduction Rural tourism  growing interest intrinsic characteristics: stressing ecological equilibrium, relax, and healthy lifestyles extrinsic factors: favorable legal frameworks and funding schemas plus shortening of family/personal travel budgets / travelling distances / vacation periods
  • 3. Introduction Rural tourism is a general model in which agritourism plays only a small part Agritourism consists of “traveling to farming establishments in order to enjoy their natural, cultural and productive values” www.ecotourisminamerica.com
  • 4. Agritourism Experience The pyramid of agritourism, from Sznajder, Przezborska, Scrimgeour (2009)
  • 5. International Visitor Dining Experiences and the Role of Online Travel Reviews Wijaya et al. (2013)  external factors that might influence the visitor dining experience with local food in the destination:  food quality  food cultural-related  physical aspect  social aspect
  • 6. Emerging trend within User Generated Contents (UGCs) UGCs contribute to the image of related businesses and destinations, and eventually to their reputation, and are used more and more by travelers planning their future vacations. (Cantoni & Tardini, 2009; Fuchs, Ricci, & Cantoni, 2012; Cantoni & Xiang, 2013; Marchiori & Cantoni, 2012) Recent study: on 440 pictures about Switzerland, published by Chinese tourists on the Chinese social network Sina Weibo in one full year (July 2011-June 2012), has revealed that images of food ranked number seven. (Hu, Kalbaska, & Cantoni, 2013)
  • 7. Methodology Sample from: www.agriturismo.it  1,710 OTR have been randomly selected, written by tourists in Italian (598), in English (573), and in German (539) about agritourism businesses in 94 different Italian provinces, distributed over all regions.  A content analysis has been performed in order to identify the dominant topics and food related topics.
  • 8. Results Type of tourist per OTR, out of 1,710 reviews Type of tourist* IT EN DE Couple 36.7% 38.4% 52.7% Family with children 35.3% 39.3% 32.7% Group of friends 6.0% 5.1% 3.3% Single 2.0% 2.1% 1.9% Biker .8% 1.1% 3.0% Big group .7% .4% .2% Elderly .7% 2.1% 2.2% Disable .4% 0 0 Company group .2% .4% 0.0% Student .1% 1.4% .6% Independent traveler 0 6.0% 1.5% * Tourist categories were provided by the online platform.
  • 9. Results List of topics present in the OTR Topics IT EN DE Service / staff 96.5 76 79.4 Quality of food 60.1 58.1 61.6 Description of the guests 56.4 19.4 11.5 Length of stay 42.9 34.0 35.6 Return planning 36.3 33.0 34.9 Relax 33.2 15.7 17.6 Description of the agritourism 26.7 27.1 31.0 Quality of the room 26.6 43.5 46.8 Panorama 10.6 41.7 35.8 Proximity to city 6.3 33.7 25.4 View from the room 7.6 28.4 21.5
  • 10. Results External food-related factors covered in the online platform Italian comments German and English comments Food quality Ingredients, receipts, handmade food, biological food Taste, handmade, quantity Food cultural- related Discovery of local tradition Discovery of the Italian food / representation of the agritourism experience. Animals and farm Physical aspect Family/home atmosphere Relax/peaceful atmosphere Social aspect Friendship with the host Food prepared by the host
  • 11. Results – Top food related topics  Italian guests tend to comment mainly on the food quality aspect (353 comments out of 598), in particular commenting the ingredients and the receipts experienced  German and English guests tend to be more sensitive to the food-cultural related aspect, underlining how their experience was an occasion to discover the Italian food culture.
  • 12. Results - Physical aspects All audiences recognize the characteristics of the Italian agritourism environment: “relax, nature, peaceful atmosphere”  Italian guests underlined the feelings of home/family environment,  German and English guests underlined the idyllic atmosphere.
  • 13. Results – Social aspect  For German and English audiences (334 and 302 comments respectively), the host represents the mediator towards the quality, and towards cultural issues.
  • 14. Results – Negative comments A minority among those analyzed: 156 Italian 108 German 278 English Topics of the negative comments: quality of food, complaining about not fresh or packaged (not hand-made) food, or about the quantity of portions. English guests tend also to complain about the service during their dining experience.
  • 15. Conclusions Italian agritourism dining experience: simple and genuine ingredients, typical of rural environment as opposed to a sophisticated cuisine. The dining experience is linked with the territory and its history and traditions. usually cultivated by the owners
  • 16. Conclusions “great Italian cuisine” components:  food prepared by the host  fresh and regional ingredients  food is produced directly by the host/farmer or by farms nearby  variety of recipes  the discovery of cultural aspects appeared to be closely connected with the dining experience.
  • 17. Conclusions The social aspect combined with the dining experience is therefore a successful attractor for this particular tourism niche in the Italian tourism offer. The role of the owner:
  • 18. Implications and future research - Italian agritourism can jointly investigate the possibility of introducing a clearer promotion of their typical products and meals in order to stress the dining experience - Investigation on the regional peculiarities emerging from the analyzed online contents
  • 19. Thank you! lorenzo.cantoni@usi.ch