At IMEX Frankfurt we attended a session about event start-ups and how they can deliver more authentic event experience. The session was organised by Atout France and speakers were from the French start-up scene, including VizEat, My Jomo and Business France.

One start-up that caught our attention in particular was VizEat. VizEat offers travellers to dine with locals at their homes, and thus experience the destination in a more authentic way. We also offer this activity for many groups that come to Italy, though not via an online platform, so we found this model very innovative and wanted to learn more about it.

Christelle Larché, Business Developer, VizEat spoke on the panel and shared how the idea was created by the two co-founders, Camille Rumani and Jean Michel Petit, in 2014. The idea was born after realising that more and more people were travelling but missing on the opportunity to meet and connect with local people. The two founders themselves had unique experience meeting with the locals in Peru and in China. The idea picked up very fast. From just 30 hosts offering dinners in three countries, it grew to 22,000 hosts in 110 countries, offering also cooking classes, food tours or wine tasting. The most popular destinations so far are France, Italy and Spain.

The phenomenal success was due to the fact that people are looking for an authentic and unique experience. People want to share this moment over a meal prepared by locals and hear their stories, discover the city through their eyes and get personal recommendations.

We enjoyed this session and chatted with VizEat afterwards to present how we create an authentic corporate event experience. Also on the corporate side we see the rising demand for more authentic experience where “meet the locals” is part of the event programme. Therefore, we decided to share with you two example about two regions we recently run these programmes.

Where in Italy can you have an authentic corporate event experience?

Experience Agritourism in Abruzzo

One third of region’s territory is either a nature park or reserve, making it one of the greenest areas in Europe. The region is popular for agritourist, meaning farms that also provide accommodation. Staying on a farm delegates can learn how they grow crops and serve their meals, eco-friendly energy-saving technologies and alternative energy production. For example, rain water collection and treatment.

Morning will begin with organic breakfast directly from the farm, followed by trekking, horse riding or cycling. Lunch will be served in a small rustic tavern in the nearby village.

In the afternoon, the group can participate in a course about ancient seeds and aromatic herbs, to learn about biodiversity. The family that runs this course will give delegates an overview about the food consumed on a daily basis and delegates might become aware of new nutritional aspects after this session. This session will follow with a cooking lesson by an elderly nonna. Delegates will also enjoy her storytelling to spice the overall experience. We guarantee that this meal will be the best Italian meal they have ever had!

Cooking classes

Cooking classes are particularity popular with corporate groups and we offer them all over Italy. Designed for amateurs, the aim is to strengthen teamwork and have fun while enjoying great food and wine. By the end of the experience, the group will be able to master Italian recipes and improve basic cooking skills. Common ones include the secrets behind conserving seasonal foods for later use through ancient curing and sun-drying techniques. These sessions will give your participants a 360 degree view of the rich Italian gastronomy. They will be able to combine cooking lessons with wine tasting, market tours, lectures about Italian food and culture and further areas of specific interest.

Discover the real Sicily

Sicily is a region filled with historical houses, still lived by the Dukes and Barons. Sicily is the perfect destination to experience an authentic Sicilian way of life, and meet the natives who still speak Sicilian dialect.

To give you an example, let us share with you an event we organised for a family that came all the way from San Diego to celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary. Avid travellers who know Italy very well, they wanted to be treated as locals and not tourists on this trip.

They stayed in Sicily for 20 days and Italian Special Occasions DMC organised activities around the theme “Meet the Locals”. For example, they visited an ancient house located in a small village in Milazzo’s countryside and met a local family. They had an aperitivi in the garden and enjoyed hearing each other’s stories.

In particular, the couple found it interesting to learn about the local traditions and culture, while the locals wanted to know what Americans know about Sicily. Many foreigners still have the wrong image about Sicily, the one from “Il Padrino”. As a matter of fact, it’s pure fiction and those who know it choose to come to Sicily. Furthermore, to get the best local experience, they also chose to discover Sicily through the five senses.

The journey of the five senses in Sicily

Couple’s journey began in the kitchen. They were introduced to traditional recipes and got ready to cook them. The husband excelled with his culinary skills and graduated this Sicilian cooking class with honours! After the lesson the couple paired the culinary creation with local wines and delicacies.

The next day, and because it was in May, the couple went out to celebrate with the locals on the streets of Milazzo. The most traditional and ancient local event took place: the Festa di San Francesco di Paola. During this colourful celebration the Saint’s statue is carried by 20 people along the flight of steps of the ancient hamlet. While they do this, locals throw roses from their windows and from the streets. It’s a very symbolic celebration and true reflection of the local identity. On following days, they explored the colourful streets of Catania and its hidden gems, including museums and local food markets.

Apart from food, traditions and historic buildings, the couple were struck by the natural beauty of Sicily. They visited the summit and surroundings of Europe’s tallest active volcano, Mount Etna. The Martian-like landscape was just as seducing as the dazzling Nebrodi National Park and Mediterranean coast.

Back to basics

We are delighted to see that the trend towards local and authentic travel is coming back also among corporate groups. We recognised it back in 2014 as a Unique Selling Promotions for Italy and created Italian Special Occasion DMC. This way we could share our passion about our county, people, culture and traditions. The Italians are very friendly and hospitable people whose door will be always open to welcome you. We are excited to see that what we firmly believe in – offering a local and authentic experience – is what travellers and event organisers are looking for today. We look forward to welcoming you in Italy and showing more of the hidden gems.

Testimonial: 

“Your staff was not only excellent and expert, but also caring and helpful. The trip was a triumph not only of our determination to have a beautiful experience in spite of age and disability, but of how Italian Special Occasions DMC enabled us to do that.”