by Marco Valeriani 😊
Marina Pasquini, owner of Hotel Belvedere in Riccione, the second best hotel in the world and the first in Europe and Italy in the list of winners of the Travelers' Choice Hotel Awards 2019, while putting in to practice one idea, she’s already thinking about the next hundred!
"It is unlikely that even this year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of foreign tourists that we were used to in the past will decide to come to Italy and the Riviera di Romagna. So - she says - to keep them close to us, I decided to use Social Media. How? By embracing an innovative marketing idea that combines, through a targeted loyalty operation, the sporting aspect (the Belvedere has a consolidated and international bike clientele) with the food and wine of our country".
And the Italian food and wine is the binding factor of the Belvedere Cooking School. Thanks to the web, able to capture the interest of those who "consume" holidays, Marina has started cooking at the hotel. By organizing real culinary tutorials: launched online and an immediate success with both those who are already loyal guests of the structure and also those who, thanks to word of mouth and the support of specialized blogs, connect because they are curious about what’s happening.
"The goal is to keep a lively, pulsating bond. To evoke in them the beautiful memories of their holidays, and to arouse the desire to come back soon. And I must say that the results have proved us right. We counted up to 200 people connected simultaneously to follow the preparation of ‘Made in Italy’ dishes".
Do you want to compete with the TV chefs?
"Absolutely not! Here the goal is another. The patrimony of every hotelier, of every entrepreneur in tourism is the guest. A patrimony that must be preserved and kept loyal day by day. The physical contact is missing? After the initial sense of loss, technology - if used well - has come to our rescue. With our tour of Italy, from the tip of a fork and with a glass of wine in hand, we have set ourselves the goal of transmitting our warmth and closeness to those who are far away and already know the Belvedere well, to those who, through relatives and colleagues, are getting to know us only now and are showing that they already love us, and to those who have returned to discover us as a destination after many years. The pandemic has stimulated the study of new forms of communication and relationship with the customer. And from here this project was born, in parallel with the virtual rides on the Zwift platform, to fill the time available - between one ride and the next - by using the resources we have, starting with the kitchen. Are we or are we not famous all over the world for our variety of products and food that contribute to giving prestige to the regional territories?".
So you got stuck into making pasta, and not only, right?
"Exactly. We made pasta, stuffed courgettes, tiramisù, Apulian style meat rolls, vegetarian dishes. In addition, we recommended the best wines, including Primitivo di Manduria and Nero d'Avola to accompany the dishes. As I said, a real tour of Italy - 8 stages so far - focusing on excellence: Extra virgin olive oil from our hills included. In fact, my own, Marina Pasquini extra virgin olive oil made from my olives! I sent it as a Christmas gift and it was very much appreciated”.
Marina Pasquini and her staff
How does the Belvedere Cooking School work?
"Every three weeks at 6 pm - local time - we turn on the lights of the Belvedere, put on our coloured aprons, arrange the ingredients on the table and start the 'episode'. A few days before we provide a shopping list: what to buy and where to find it. In this way, we also give an important impulse to the produce of Italy and the connected economy".
Who follows the Belvedere Cooking School?
"The most numerous, although it may seem incredible, are our friends in Canada. Even though it is just 9am there! Then the British, Americans, Northern Europeans and to follow the others".
Will the tutorials continue in the upcoming months?
"This is our intention. Once the hotel reopens - at Easter - we will be able to count on larger spaces and more professional equipment. Watch this space as there’ll be plenty of news to come!".