How to start a food tour business

Building a food tour business is tough. Building a food tour business in a ‘secondary’ destination with the foodie heaven of San Francisco right on your doorstep? Even tougher!


On today’s Tourpreneur, the podcast for tour operators, you will hear the story of Lauren McCabe Herpich, the tourpreneur behind Local Food Adventures in Oakland, California.


In this candid conversation with Tourpreneur host Shane Whaley, Lauren McCabe Herpich shares with us the highs and lows about starting her own food tour business from scratch.

  • How a career in TV and marketing has helped her with some aspects of her food tour business.
  • How a night out with friends who had enjoyed a San Francisco Food Tour, inspired her to start her own food and walking tour in Oakland.
  • How she competes with the food tour market of San Francisco.
  • Her first steps marketing and promoting her food tour business on a shoestring budget.
  • She made no money with Groupon but did amass a lot of learning.
  • That she built her own tour website using WordPress and WPZoom themes.
  • The lightbulb moment. How a quick conversation with Douglas Quinby at Arival inspired her to add a new product offering that could be lucrative for her tour business.
  • How she coped with the low moments when she was struggling with negative thoughts.
  • Why she decided to add more tour products.
  • How she approached food vendors to be a part of her food tours.
  • Why being honest is important when addressing negative tour reviews.
  • Why she loves working with FareHarbor and what she looks for in a tour booking platform.
  • How she went about recruiting tour guides for her tour business.
  • Why content can be a headache for tour operators.
  • Advice for Moms and Dads who want to build their own tour business.
  • Tips on how to keep learning and not to ignore the big names because you are a small tour operator.
  • Words of wisdom for other tour operators.
Lauren McCabe Herpich, founder of Local Food Adventures, Oakland California

I love giving tours because: There may not be a better way to travel than to discover what the locals are eating and experiencing during their normal daily lives. You get to meet different people from all over the world and bond over a common love of food.

Lauren McCabe Herpich
Food Tours in Oakland, California

Local Food Adventures At A Glance

Local Food Adventures invites you to enjoy Oakland walking tours and East Bay cultural food experiences, where you learn more about the area’s history, live its present-day excitement and taste its growing food culture.

Tour Style: Walking and Food Tours


Tour Niche: Named how to go” when visiting Oakland by National Geographic Magazine and the Best Tour in the East Bay 2018 TWO YEARS IN A ROW by Diablo Magazine!


Tour Booking Platform:

Local Food Adventures work with FareHarbor.


Website: WordPress built with WPZoom professional themes and templates.


Tour Customization Level: Moderate

Lauren and her team at Local Food Adventures offer public and private walking and food tours.


Special Skills:

TV (marketing background.)

Worked as a campus tour guide at university.

Worked as a part-time tour guide in Chicago whilst studying for her Masters.

Built her own website with the aim of empowering women.


The Challenge of offering food tours in Oakland.

Oakland had a bad rap and it’s still kind of does outside the area. But when we moved here, I quickly realized how amazing this city was.

But starting off, you know, especially five years ago, people were still like, why would you start a food tour in Oakland? Who would actually come on this tour?

Lauren McCabe Herpich

Words of Wisdom For Tour Operators


Go for it. I mean, you really, you only live once. Yolo. I think Yolo is universal and I say that as a, I guess a very old millennial just go for it. Try it.

You know, if you’ve been sitting on the idea, you know, why not just take a risk? I mean, what’s the worst that can happen?

Anthony Bordain had a great quote. He said, anytime you go to a restaurant, try something on the menu that you’ve never had before. The best thing that can happen is you try it, you love it, and you have something that you’ll love for the rest of your life.

The worst thing that can happen is you’re out a couple bucks. And so I think that applies to all of us. You know, there are so many different ways to try an idea that you have and also try it in a way that makes sense for you.

Lauren McCabe Herpich
Join the Tourpreneur Insiders Facebook Group
Join the Tourpreneur Insiders Facebook Group

Got questions for Lauren? She is a member of our Tourpreneur Insiders Facebook Group. Come and join us and like-minded tour operators and tour professionals over at the group.

Links and Resources Mentioned on this Episode of Tourpreneur – a podcast for tour operators.

Links Mentioned in this Episode

Local Food Adventures

Food Tours Offered by Local Food Adventures

Meet The Local Food Adventures Tour Guides

Local Food Adventures – Food Tours in the News.

Visit Oakland

FareHarbor Booking Platform for Tour Operators

Magpie Travel

Arival Event for Tour Operators

Side Hustle School