The Coronavirus crippled the entertainment scene around the planet. From sporting events to concerts to festivals, events scheduled to highlight the spring and summer are delayed or canceled. Their fans are forced to look ahead to 2021. It can brighten the day to realize these DOA global highlights will come back around in the future when the illness fades and a free flowing life returns to the world.
The Open Restaurants Festival in Jerusalem held its first annual event last winter as an urban culinary festival combining food with art, design, music, dance and technology. Working jointly with the Jerusalem Development Authority, the minds behind Open Restaurants want to turn the event in Jerusalem’s version of SXSW.
According to Open Restaurants founder Merav Oren, with people around the world currently limited in their ability to interact and explore, the event turns online to social media to keep the event vibrant and growing for 2020.
“We promote the festival online, but not for the purpose of ticket sales,” Oren says. “We use social media to cooperate with bloggers and social media leaders that have a lot of followers to help all of our partners — chefs, restaurants, museums, actors, speakers — to get traction.”
That’s the spirit of Open Restaurants. The 2019 event never felt like a money making machine designed to build tourism fever for The Holy Land. It was a celebration of local culture for the world to enjoy and an opportunity for individual chefs and restaurants to expose themselves to a larger slice of the public.
“The tickets to the festival are sold on our website,” Oren adds. “When we have all the events online — and we offer about 120 events in five days — we send an online newsletter to our subscribers. Within about 2 hours of those announcements, most of those events are sold out for us.”
Even once the tickets are bought and the Open Restaurant events booked, Oren’s team keeps the social media channel open for local chefs and restaurant to stay on festival goers’ minds.
“We plan to expand our social media use for 2020, but now we’re a bit on hold like everybody else.”
Even during the COVID-19 freeze on big event planing, the Open Restaurant Festival works with the JDA with its massive, ongoing social media campaign. Jerusalem’s tourism presence on social media is strong around the world and promotes the city as a travel culinary destination — or a destination to be when travelers can take flight again.