American Marketer


Shangri-La broadcasts good taste for multinational gastronomic festival

September 24, 2015

Michelin-starred meal Michelin-starred meal


Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts is proving that a great meal is just as important as a great night’s sleep with the International Festival of Gastronomy.

For the festival, Shangri-La has tapped eight Michelin-starred chefs to prepare meals at six hotels in five cities - which will take place in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Shanghai and Paris - from Oct. 27-31. Luxury hotels often enter partnerships with noteworthy chefs to prove that a more complete luxury experience is part of a stay.

“In terms of the Shangri-La International Festival of Gastronomy, no other hotel company has been able to orchestrate a guest chef promotion of this scale, with eight Michelin star chefs featured in eight different restaurants in five cities around the world at the same time,” said Lori Lincoln, director of corporate communications at Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, Hong Kong. “This reinforces our reputation for culinary excellence and innovation.“

Culinary tour
The brand has created a Web site that contains a video, which provides relevant information over closeups of food and snapshots of preparation, from slicing vegetables to squeezing lemons and plating the meal, to promote the festival.

Further down, the page contains bios for each of the eight chefs as well as minute-long videos in which they discuss their philosophy on plating, anticipate the festival, explain what they look for in new restaurants, discuss food trends and answer other questions about dining and culinary art.

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Shangri-La International Festival of Gastronomy

The videos, although brief, give the festival a human touch, making it feel less like an overtly branded experience than a personal and intimate meal.

“Chefs are artists and fascinating people,” Ms. Lincoln said. “We wanted to bring them closer to guests and enhance the overall experience, and video is an approachable way to do this. The character of each chef comes out as he explains his culinary approach.”

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Chef Ip Chi Cheung

The bios, which continue on a separate page when the viewer clicks a “Find Out More” button, include a brief background, culinary experience and a paragraph on the chef’s style and specialties. The emphasis on the chefs and their styles shows that Shangri-La considers the food rather than its own hotels the main event.

“Many attending the events will be residents of the cities where Shangri-La has participating restaurants,” Ms. Lincoln said. “We also expect some people to travel to a location specifically to have the opportunity to experience a meal by one of these amazing chefs.”

Gastronomical delicacies

Screenshot from Shangri-La Festival of Gastronomy video

Booking enquiries must be made over the phone, with contact names and numbers included on the Web site. Requiring over-the-phone enquiries allows Shangri-La an opportunity to persuade consumers to book a room during the festival without shifting emphasis away from the food and chefs in the promotion.

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Chef Enrico Bartolini

Accordingly, the festival is the primary draw rather than a perk for staying at the hotel, illustrating the importance food has for the brand. Travelers increasingly plan culinary experiences into their visits abroad, and Shangri-La’s marketing campaign suggests an authentic way to fulfill those wishes.

Food fight
Other hotels are also capitalizing on the growing importance of food-tourism.

For example, last October Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts teamed up with the culinary institute James Beard Foundation for a variety of events across its portfolio.

The partnership paired top chefs from both Waldorf and James Beard in various locations. For foodies steeped in the culinary world, the new program demonstrates that Waldorf Astoria strives to be an innovator (see story).

Brands in other sectors are also capitalizing on the universal love of food.

In August 2014, London retailer Harrods continued to drive attention to its dining options with a five-month long culinary experience prepared by Michelin-starred chefs.

The pop-up dining experience featured five chefs from the following September to this past January, who prepared Italian fare in the lower ground floor of Harrods. Given the long time period for the dining event, Harrods continuously benefited from the additional foot traffic from those who wished to try dishes prepared by each chef (see story).

Final Take

Forrest Cardamenis, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York