Miami Culinary Tours is part of a home-grown local industry that is over a century old, leaves a low carbon footprint, provides jobs, act as ambassadors, and promotes and inspires visitors to embrace the history, architecture, culture and distinctive cuisines of Miami. Just as local restaurants and businesses have been impacted by COVID-19, tour operators have been severely impacted as well.
When everything shut down, Miami Culinary Tours owner Grace Della immediately started working on safety and health protocols and taking steps to be socially responsible during the time of this pandemic. The company is the first tour operator in Florida to pass the screening offered by SanSee health and sanitation certification systems and to receive the certification for hygiene and safety. In addition, due to making the changes to their tours, they received the Safe Travel Stamp from the World Travel & Tourism Council for implementing health and hygiene protocols. Della says. “As a responsible small local business owner, Miami Culinary Tours is doing the right thing by making health and safety the priority. It took a lot of work.”
They were approved by Airbnb Online Experiences, and after going through a tough rehearsal, their “Fun Cuban Cocktails With A Miami Insider” was accepted.
SoFlNights.com chats with Della about how she’s doing during the pandemic.
Besides classes with Airbnb Online Experiences, how are you pivoting your business for the “new normal” — doing business virtually?
We have a whole set of online experiences, you can see them posted on our Miami Culinary Tours website.
Have you considered doing virtual tours using your guides, perhaps on a smaller scale?
Yes, several of the tour guides sent the description of a virtual experience that they’d like to conduct, and I posted them on our website, it is the same link as the one above.
For these virtual experiences, you visit different areas in Miami with a local expert guide in a live online tour. Take a virtual stroll through South Beach, Wynwood, The Design District and Little Havana. The duration of the tour is one hour and it’s available seven days a week. These experiences are done through Miami Culinary Tour’s corporate Zoom account. Once booked, you will receive an email confirmation with your Zoom link. You can also use Facetime or Whatsapp if preferred.
In “Fun Cuban Cocktails With A Miami Insider, A Live Online Experience,” you learn how to prepare the perfect Cuba Libre, Mojito and Daiquiri Cocktails with one of Miami Culinary Tour’s guides. You buy the ingredients and equipment per the list and the instructions that Miami Culinary Tours provides. From the comfort of your home, you can sip on refreshing cocktails while learning the culinary, cultural and historical background of each of the ingredients, and their place in the history of cocktails. First you’ll learn how to make a Cuba Libre. While sampling the Cuba Libre together with your Zoom group, you’ll have a chance to get to know each another. Next, you’ll be shown how to make a perfect Mojito, step-by-step. You’ll also share Cantinera Teresita’s favorite Daiquiri recipe.
Are you planning on doing any in-person tours with your guides using the pandemic protocols?
Yes, please see our protocols on our website for all in-person tours. They may change as things are changing all of the time! To book a private experience, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 786-942-8856.
If you do plan on doing culinary tours again, since restaurants are currently only open for outdoor service and require social distancing, would you be able to book enough people on a culinary tour to make it profitable for you?
I hope so! We have been getting several requests for in-person tours, most of them started to come in June, which sadly I had to turn down. Even this past weekend I turned down a few requests because I am being very careful about the reopening date.
How will you be able to enforce “social distancing” on a tour so that everyone can hear the tour guide? Will your guides wear masks?
It is now mandatory to wear masks. Until restrictions are lifted, we will follow the CDC and Miami-Dade guidelines. The groups will be a lot smaller and guides use microphones so even with physical distancing people will be able to hear. Other tour operators are already doing tours with masks and using microphones. I belong to several tour operator groups and I am an active participant at Global Tours Connect, and it has been wonderful to hear from other tour operators on what is working for them right now as many are already operating food tours with the new guidelines. Tour companies that adjusted their tours to make them safer minimizing risks are seeing buyers’ confidence with bookings coming in.
What do you think the “new normal” for your company will be like when we emerge from the pandemic?
“We have 13 tour guides that have been with the company for 5-10 years and are eager to start conducting tours again. I think (and hope) that everything will go back to normal. The travel industry is very resilient so I never lose hope.
But it’s great to know that in the meantime, we can take a virtual tour of our favorite areas in the city and learn how to make Miami’s favorite cocktails!