MIRAC: Gastronomy and Incoming Tourism

The Wadden Sea - stretching from the Northern Netherlands to Germany and Denmark - was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2009.  Despite its natural beauty, the region is unknown to international visitors.  The opening of a new landing strip at the regional airport in 2012 resulted in an increasing number of international flights.  With the main campus of Stenden University of Applied Sciences being at Leeuwarden, close to the Dutch Wadden Sea coast, their European Tourism Futures Institute (ETFI) was invited to analyse the potential for new tourist developments with a focus on incoming tourism. 

This study identified many Product-Market-Partner combinations that would be attractive for international tourists, but also one major weakness: international visitors were unsatisfied with the level of gastronomy in this part of the country.  This challenge led to a new project which aimed at improving the level of restaurants in the higher end of the market.  The tool that was chosen was an assessment and innovation model developed for this purpose in the Spanish Basque country.  The tool was developed by the Spanish software company Ibermática in cooperation with Andoni Arduriz, top chef and owner of Mugaritz, currently the third best restaurant in the world, to address a different challenge in this particular region of Europe: how to prepare the next generation of chefs in order for his country to maintain its reputation in gastronomy.

The MIRAC (Modelo de Innovación para Restaurantes de Alta Cocina, or Innovation Model for Haute Cuisine Restaurants) is based on a thorough analysis of all restaurant processes, and identifies 107 innovation factors for Michelin star restaurants, or 46 for promising newcomers.  The assessment of how a restaurant scores on each of these factors helps to build a consistent strategy for competitiveness and innovation.  The ETFI and Stenden Hotel Management School have adapted the model and process to the Dutch situation and are currently running a first pilot in two renowned northern Netherlands restaurants. 

Tjeerd Zandberg, Senior Researcher at ETFI and Stenden Hotel Management School, values the insight the model gives in restaurant operations and strategy: “Due to its comprehensiveness and close resemblance of actual restaurant processes, MIRAC provides a deep insight in the operations of a restaurant and exposes areas for improvement.  It strongly increases awareness of restaurant managers of these weak spots and often results in lively discussions about possible innovations”.

Article supplied by Stenden University