Learn how Shane Kost scaled3 Food Tourism Enterprises with Cultivate Advisors

About Food Tour Pros

Chicago Food Planet Case Study

Chicago Food Planet Case Study

Chicago Food Planet was the first Chicago food and culinary tour company dedicated to helping people enjoy the best Chicago food and cultural experience off the beaten path. In addition to tasting great foods, tour participants also learn the history, culture, and architecture of Chicago’s historic neighborhoods.

Food Tour Pros is fueled by millions of people across the world who choose their travel destinations based on food alone. Food Tour Pros fills this demand by empowering fun-loving, driven individuals to build food tour businesses in their own cities through education, training, and ongoing support.

Global Food Tourism Association’s mission is to ensure Food Tourism professionals thrive globally. Initially seeking mutual professional support on the heels of Food Tour Pros vast network, GFTA launched the Global Food Tourism Conference (GFTC) starting in Chicago in 2015, an annual event attracting business owners, CEOs, managers, support staff, tour leaders, buyers, national tourism boards and more from all corners of the world.

Industry:Hospitality
Skill focus:Financial, Leadership. Sales, Marketing
Sub IndustryFood Tourism
Year Founded2006

Cultivate Advisors Impact

Shane Kost started Chicago Food Planet to connect his passions of travel and food. Through his work with his advisor, he was able to grow and scale, Chicago Food Planet and take his expertise to launch Global Food Tourism Association.

Cultivate Advisors partnered with Shane to

  • Build and develop his executive team
  • Convert operation from owner-operator to scaled
  • Recruit, hire, and train 15 new employees
  • Refined services & created business packages to increase revenue
  • Implemented new products and services
  • Launch Global Food Tourism Association
Cultivate Advisors Impact

Cultivate Advisors Impact

Impact

Results

2x

Revenue in 2 years

15

Employees Hired & Trained

1

Successful Exit in 2021

Shane Kost

As a consultant myself, I was hesitant to seek advice outside of my comfort zone, especially with individuals outside of my industry. Cultivate quickly highlighted that I was missing critical skills and insight into how best to grow and scale my business(es). I’m excited by the strategies they’ve infused into my brands and only wish I’d invested in their knowledge and resources much earlier.

Shane Kost

Global Food Tourism Association | Food Tour Pros | Chicago Food Planet

Challenge Solution Outcomes

Challenge

In 2006, Shane Kost started Chicago Food Planet, a Chicago-based food and culinary tour company that offers a unique Chicago food and cultural experience. After much success, Shane decided to launch Food Tour Pros to help others start and operate their own food tour businesses in cities across the globe. Shane was a little skeptical about partnering with an advisor. Shane is a top expert in Food Tourism, teaching other entrepreneurs how to open food tours across the world. At the time, he was responsible for helping to create 90% of the industry, but he kept seeing that food tours would always cap out at a certain level. Shane wanted to scale. He had seen success in the owner/operator model he had built, but he didn't know how to take it to the next leve

Solution

He partnered with his advisor to develop the infrastructure for scale, starting with building out an executive team that could take over different departments in the business and allow Shane to remove himself from the owner/opertator model. Next, they focused on financials and looked for opportunities to tighten up the systems within the business and increase profitability. When they moved to sales and marketing, they looked for opportunities to move from the traditional B2C to tap into B2B market. Seeing an opportunity to capitalize on custom events they hired a salesperson to partner with businesses and create customized employee experiences and private tours. They also work together on creating a partnership with Navy Pier, one of Chicago’s largest tourist destinations. This partnership allowed Chicago Food Planet to massively increase brand recognition and help to drive more leads into the business. In 2015, after working with his advisor on tightening all of the systems and processes and converting Chicago Food Planet from owner-operator to a scaled model, refining services for Food Tour Pros, Shane and his advisor got to work to launch his third brand, Global Food Tourism Association.

Outcomes

In 2020, COVID hit the Tourism industry very hard. Many businesses suffered and had to close their doors. Fortunately, with all of the work Shane put into the business and all of the systems he had implemented with his advisor, he was able to sell Chicago Food Planet at value. In 2022, Shane returned to Cultivate to work with an advisor to build his newest business venture, realeste investment.

How We’ve Helped Other Businesses

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  • Create turn-key systems and processes to increase efficiency
  • Build a plan for recruiting, hiring, and training top talent
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Law Firm

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  • Identify, track and measure KPIs
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B2B Recruiting

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  • Set achievable goals to increase revenue
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Software Implementation

The WFC Group

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  • Hire a sales team and develop a sales engine
  • Improve customer retention
  • Create alignment and transparency in the business
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