For Donald Contursi, president of Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, the creation of a food-themed tour operator in Las Vegas is a natural pairing.
“Each restaurant has their own concept – so why not take all of these gems and create the ultimate experience?’” Contursi recalled to PAX. “I thought ‘what am I passionate about?’ and it’s food and tourism.”
Established in 2014, the company recently took home three awards - including Best Tour, Best Fine Dining and Best Brunch - in the Las Vegas Review-Journal's 2017 Best of Las Vegas awards and is currently rated on TripAdvisor as the top food-themed tour operator in Las Vegas. Now Contursi is bringing the concept – fully commissionable at 12 per cent – to Canadian travel agents.
“For travel agents, everyone’s coming to Vegas and they have to arrange everything – the only thing left that agents aren’t taking care of are the restaurants, and now there’s a commissionable product for them,” Contursi said, adding that Lip Smacking Foodie Tours is offering agents “a feather in their cap” for providing clients with a VIP restaurant experience.
Contursi has first-hand experience in the city’s highly-competitive restaurant scene, working as a server in many high-profile restaurants including Gordon Ramsay Steak. With many of today’s Vegas visitors drawn to the city’s various shows and experiences rather than the casinos, Contursi explained that a Lip Smacking Foodie Tour provides both a unique way to explore the city (guests are also treated to a city tour of various sights between restaurants) while helping to pare down the overwhelming assortment of eateries on offer. In addition, guests taking part in a tour often become fast friends with complete strangers after sharing a few meals, he added.
Donald Contursi, president, Lip Smacking Foodie Tours
“People are looking for experiences and there’s so many amazing restaurants,” he said. “Now there’s a tour guide taking you around to the best places and trying dishes you might not have ordered on your own.”
Private group sizes range from a minimum of 10 guests to 140 for the largest corporate events, Contursi said, adding that the latter groups are becoming one of his company’s top bookings.
Popular tours include Savor the Strip, a three-hour evening tour of five of Vegas’ most dynamic restaurants; guests can also enjoy this same experience plus a Maverick Helicopters tour for $100 per person in the Savoury Bites and Neon Lights tour.
Away from the strip, the Downtown Lip Smacking Tour brings guests to Freemont St. East, featuring a number of brand-new restaurants and bars near the Downtown Container Park, an experience described by Contursi as “where the locals go.”
Offered only on weekends, the Lip Smacking Boozy Brunch combines signature cocktails (or mocktails for those who don’t drink) plus signature breakfast items; and new this year are the Ultimate Steakhouse tour and the Vegas Sights Worldly Bites, the latter of which takes place at The Venetian and The Palazzo.
“A great travel advisor provides their client with memorable experiences, ours just so happens to be commissionable. With most travellers unaware they can experience up to five award-winning restaurants in one night, clients have actually begun recommending their travel agent after experiencing their Lip Smacking Foodie Tour.”
Guests taking part in a Lip Smacking Foodie Tour enjoy perks such as a greeting from the chef at participating restaurants.