The Inside Scoop: Taste of Atlanta Food Festival

Taste of Atlanta is a three-day food and beverage festival that takes place each fall in Midtown Atlanta, Georgia. We caught up with festival Founder and President, Dale DeSena to find out why the festival is such a hit, and what it has in store for next year.

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Photo: Dale DeSena (Taste of Atlanta).

What is Taste of Atlanta all about? Taste of Atlanta is all about tasting great food from Atlanta’s favorite chefs and restaurants; sampling craft beer, wine and cocktails; enjoying a variety of sponsor experiences; and, watching cooking demos on four stages to learn some chef tricks to help make everyone better in their own kitchen.

What led you to start TOA? In 2002, Atlanta was just starting to think about chef driven restaurants. Food wasn’t the popular thing to focus on but I could see it would soon be.

What challenges does the festival face (if any)? A challenge to us has been trying to stay ahead of Atlanta’s commercial real estate boom in the Midtown area and make sure we have enough street space for our restaurants and sponsors to spread out.

Why do you think TOA is so popular? Food and beverages are what dreams are made of – and, of course, people want to come eat and greet with Atlanta chefs and learn a thing or two while being outdoors enjoying Atlanta’s beautiful fall weather.

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What does TOA bring to the food fest experience that others don’t? TOA is always thinking of our attendees and how we can make the TOA festival experience better every year. We are the only Atlanta food fest to have RFID wristbands to help attendees keep track of their taste points and keep their hands free to hold more food and more beverages.

What made you decide to incorporate RFID technology into the TOA experience? I had been searching for years to find the technology to help collect all of the attendee data and be able to send them a post event email thanking them for coming and reminding them what they ate and what restaurant it came from – thus, marketing our participating restaurants and sponsors and giving our patrons a reason to support them throughout the year.

How has the use of RFID changed the experience for you? RFID collects valuable attendee data including age, household income, gender, address and email address. We are now able to talk with our patrons about what they enjoyed about the festival and ideas they have for improving the festival experience. We also are able to communicate with attendees on behalf of key corporate partners, adding value to sponsorship proposals.

How did your guests react to the new technology? Our guests embraced the technology. They found it easier to buy food and drink samples by simply tapping their wristband rather than fumbling with taste coupons. The wristband can’t be lost once it’s put on. They also love the post event email because it helps them remember what they sampled and where it came from. With the RFID technology, they were emailed a list with links to the restaurants – and sometimes a special offer to return for the entrée version. In addition, attendees were able to have recipe cards from the chef demonstrations emailed to them right away.

What are you most excited about for TOA 2017? 2017 will mark Taste of Atlanta’s 16th Anniversary and we will celebrate with a Sweet 16 theme during the 3-day festival. Our big news is Taste of Atlanta is moving to a new home in Historic Fourth Ward Park, a park that has a wide-open space with green grass and easy access from all parts of Atlanta. Our guests can walk along the Beltline, ride their bike, take Uber or Lyft or park and ride shuttle buses that will drop them at our front door.

Come see us! TASTE of Atlanta is October 20, 21 and 22, 2017.

The Connect&GO deployment for Taste of Atlanta 2016:

Wristbands: 30,000

Services provided: Access, Payments, Experiential

Ticketing services, event staff and wristband fulfillment provided by Freshtix.

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Photos: Courtesy of Taste of Atlanta

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