Being able to follow a recipe doesn’t make you a chef!

by Sunni Chapman

This week I’m going to use the preparation of food to explain experiences we’ve had in the travel industry. Please let me know if I overcook the analogy to the point of spoiling my message.

Travel is not about cooking, that much is clear. Heck, sometimes enjoying an excellent meal isn’t even about cooking at all, considering factors like presentation, ambience and who the meal is shared with. I personally don’t believe that simply following a recipe makes one a good cook let alone is sufficient grounds to be considered a chef.

Take my mom for example. She is a great cook. Her food is excellent and has been enjoyed by many people over the years. In fact, our Sicily FAM participants will be sampling her cooking this week and I am sure that some will mention her cooking when completing the post trip survey. She makes delicious food but she is not a chef and would never consider herself one.

I’ve known a few chefs in my lifetime and to me the differences between them and the cooks of the world are passion, dedication to their craft and the ability to improvise in the moment, converting potential disasters into culinary works of art. This last bit could never be accomplished by someone who is following a recipe…as many cooks do.

We’ve encountered a number of people in the travel industry lately that present themselves as chefs to their clients but in truth they are cooks following a recipe that they’ve asked us to create. Normally that is exactly what we hope will happen as long as we are partnering with them and are benefiting equally by working together.

Too often lately our creative work is pirated and there is no equal benefit.Agents ask for a travel quote to Italy, only to then take parts of it and “magically” piece together bit by bit an itinerary while saying…I just LOVE your itineraries but oh, by the way look what I just “created” by myself.

There is nothing wrong when you do everything yourself from beginning to booking.

But if your plan is to have us take the time and go to the expense of crafting a custom itinerary for you when your intent is to dissect it, use some items to create your own itinerary while booking it elsewhere, then that IS a problem.

If you can to do it all yourself, then by all means do it. Otherwise it is akin to requesting a custom dinner party at a 5 star restaurant and then cancelling all but the salad course, cooking your own food and then pretending you had the same experience as those who ate the 5 course meal prepared by a master chef.

Sadly, for the agents who do this, and even more so for their unfortunate clients, after they’ve copied our itineraries ingredient by ingredient, they don’t know how to salvage the trip when the unexpected occurs. They haven’t factored in the vast hours of their time that will be consumed when one of the emergencies that can arise in Italy does. IF something does go wrong do they have the skill, experience and resources needed to improvise a work of art? The truthful answer is no, they do not.

What happens then? What happens if they forgot to provide some vital information to their clients. These kinds of mistakes will burn their reputation irreparably!

We encourage agents to work with us to learn how they can best sell Italy. We encourage them to invest their time to become Italian Travel Experts and when they do we encourage them to market their expertise and eventually craft their own works of art. We will never complain about that.

We do take exception to anyone who takes the work product of someone else and presents it as their own creation while claiming they are authentic chefs. They are the polar opposite of authentic. They are fraudulent, deceptive and care only about making a quick dollar for themselves.

Here’s to you and the week ahead. May you enjoy the best life has to offer and maybe even a meal expertly prepared by a master chef.


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