The Power of Destination Marketing Organizations – Interview with Midgi Moore of Juneau Food Tours

Last Updated March 22, 2019

Visitors to Juneau, Alaska, need to remember two very important tips to make the most of their time. First, try not to blink because the scenery and wildlife are absolutely spectacular. Second, go find Midgi Moore.

Kelly "Midgi" Moore

Kelly “Midgi” Moore

The owner and operator of Juneau Food Tours moved to the Alaskan capital in 2009, but today she’s the go-to expert for foodies passing through. By foot or kayak, Midgi introduces her guests to local cuisine like halibut chowder, wild salmon, and local beers. That fiercely local approach is one of the reasons USA Today has named hers one of the top ten food tours in North America.

Any tour operator, however, knows building such a successful brand doesn’t come easily. You need a solid strategy to establish a strong reputation and forge the right relationships with vendors and know how to reach new guests. To do that, Midgi worked closely with her state and local destination marketing organizations.

Tell us a bit about yourself, and why you created Juneau Food Tours.

M: In 2009 I moved to Alaska from Utah. Many of my family and friends asked me how to make certain dishes, so I thought it would be fun to start a blog, “Meals with Midgi”. After a year of blogging, the local newspaper picked up my blog and I started writing a food column. During this time I learned a lot about Alaskan food, the chefs and restaurants and cooking Alaskan. During this time, my day job was managing the visitors centers for our DMO, Travel Juneau. In 2014, I decided to combine my food enthusiasm with my love of Juneau and created Juneau food tours. I can’t remember not loving food, and I now get the opportunity to connect visitors with Alaska in a tasty way!

I’m looking at your experiences online and I love how fiercely local they are. I see salmon, king crab, even adventurous experiences that show off the stunning location. What role do you think that played in making you a USA Today top ten food tour?

M: Our guests are treated to flavors and foods that are uniquely Alaskan. For example, our chefs forage the forests and beaches for indigenous mushrooms, greens, and ocean products. The distillery serves gin made from locally foraged botanicals, one of our bars uses ice taken straight from a glacier (yes, that’s a real thing). Our tea and spice store serves a blue tea made from Devil’s Club, which is an indigenous plant used for thousands of years by Alaskan natives. What made us a USA Top Ten food tour? Nothing tastes quite like Alaska and our guests truly get to experience that.

I’m curious about your experience with Destination Marketing Organizations. Why is that a vital part of promoting a food tour?

I strongly feel that my partnerships with the state and Juneau DMOs are key to my success and growth. They help me tell the Alaskan food story. I host a dozen or so travel/food writers every summer and have been featured in New York Times, Forbes, Bon Apetit, Food & Wine, and Vogue. Through their support, I have gained a good reputation in working with the media and as an expert on Alaskan food; many writers reach out to me directly for information on what’s new and tasty.

Marketing consistently tops our polls on what operators need more assistance with. What advice do you have for your colleagues who are looking to explore relationships with their DMOs?

Be the expert in your field. Build the relationship with the food scene in your destination. Whether a tasting location or not, know about the restaurant one block over, down the street, etc. Knowing what’s new and what is happening in your city will make you the go-to person for the DMO. I once had a boss tell me, “It’s not what you know, it’s not who you know, it’s who knows YOU.” So very true and my DMOs reach out to me when there’s a food angle for Alaska, because they know I’ve done the research and I’m personally invested in telling a great story.

I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story and insight with us. But it wouldn’t be an EzTix interview without this final question: If you could sit and have coffee with one of your colleagues around the world, who would it be and what would you want to ask them?

This is actually an easy question for me. I would love to chat more with Carolyn Banfalvi, owner of Taste Hungary and Tasting Table in Budapest. I recently traveled to Budapest and attended her Tasting Table. Such a fun and cool experience. I would like to ask her a dozen question of how she does it! She’s fabulous!!

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