Old Food was Never Better: Augmenting event authenticity at a medieval festival

Old Food was Never Better: Augmenting event authenticity at a medieval festival

By Richard N.S. Robinson

Paper given at 2009 International CHRIE Conference

The Grill Guys at a Medieval Market in Óbidos, Portugal – photo by Tiago Jesus / Flickr

Abstract: This study aimed at developing an understanding of a medieval festival’s visitor attitudes towards how food and beverage service might augment an event’s authenticity mission. It applies an authenticity framework to relatively untested aspects of the tourist/visitor experience. Initially, an exploratory ethnographic study was conducted at a pre-festival medieval banquet to explore dimensions of food and beverage apparent in the literature. This informed a resultant survey which was administered at the festival tournament. Herein is reported the exploratory study and preliminary findings from the survey. In conclusion the paper proposes theoretical contributions, practical implications and considerations for future research.

Introduction: Food and beverage service within the tourism industry has been a topic of much scholarly attention. Food provision and service can influence intention to visit destinations and events and even shapes a visitor’s daily itinerary. Various studies have measured the foodservice expenditure of tourists. The general consensus is that upwards of 25% of visitor expenses are attributable to food and beverage and perhaps much higher in certain niche markets. More than this, food consumption is not only a means of generating revenue, but is also an integral part of the overall tourist experience. Reasonable evidence suggests that the provision of well-designed food and beverage services can enhance visitor satisfaction by creating more distinct and memorable experiences.

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In contrast to the hospitality and catering sectors of tourism, where eating and drinking are the core products, foodservice appears to play a less central role in the events sector. Catering at these events could be viewed as largely a secondary activity. From a marketing perspective, foodservice in these situations is considered an augmented product, or one that supplements and adds value to the core product, which in the case of a festival is the provision of environs and artefacts for the entertainment of visitors.

Click here to read this article from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst

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