How a Pandemic Pivot Led to a Brand New Business, with Michelle Ng

Episode 297

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Michelle Ng brings people closer together by creating rewarding experiences through her two businesses – Vancouver Foodie Tours and Granville Island Gifting. Forbes has named Vancouver Foodie Tours one of the top 9 food tours in the world. They offer food walking tours, introducing guests to the culinary gems, vibrant cultures, and history that make Vancouver unique.

Michelle’s second business, Granville Island Delivery Co, was founded at the start of the pandemic as a way for the community to support local artisans and to send Granville Island gift boxes to friends and colleagues. Michelle has been recognized by The Entrepreneur magazine and Vancouver Sun for her contributions to uplifting the community during the pandemic.

What excites Michelle the most? She loves to generate happiness and appreciation by creating rewarding experiences that uplift the community. Michelle’s story is of resilience and optimism.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Michelle Ng about how she built her Foodie Tour business over 12 years and how her pandemic pivot led to the formation of a second company. She shares what she sees as a successful food tour in other destinations and why technology is core to both of her business’s success. We also dive into a collaboration Michelle kickstarted involving other small tour operators and how that collaboration has subsequently resulted in an injection of funding.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Michelle’s journey and how she got to where she is today with her two businesses
  • How food has a magical power to bring people closer together and break down barriers
  • What happened to Michelle’s business when the COVID-19 pandemic hit North America
  • How the Granville Island Delivery Co. came into being to serve the local community
  • How Michelle evolved the design and marketing of her tours to better suit visitors who don’t know anything about Vancouver
  • Michelle gives an insight into her most popular tours and why visitors love them
  • How technology has enabled Michelle to be able to run a successful business
  • The part collaboration has played in spreading the word about Michelle’s businesses and attracting visitors
  • Michelle shares her advice for listeners hoping to grow and scale their business

Refining Your Business

Michelle Ng, founder of Vancouver Foodie Tours and Granville Island Gifting, shares why she is constantly in the process of tweaking and refining the experience she offers her customers. She describes why it is so important to her to be constantly listening to her customers, what they’re asking for and what they’re interested in. Pursuing excellence and creating rewarding experiences is very important to Michelle, and she highlights why it’s at the core of what she does as a business owner.

Creating a Network

We discussed how Michelle got involved with her local destination marketing organization and details the two most effective steps she has taken to develop her business. She walks us through what she has learned from some of the world’s most successful examples of food tours. Michelle also shares how the DMOs in Vancouver, in British Columbia, and in Canada have supported her work and provided access to the international markets by showing her how to pitch and win the business of tour operators worldwide.

How Collaboration Led to Collective Success

Both of Michelle’s businesses are built on a foundation of collaboration, and she shares how that has contributed to her success. Michelle describes why she really believes in uplifting the community in everything she and her team do and why, whenever they are looking at partnerships or any other business decisions, they’re striving to create win-win relationships. They view their foodie tour experiences through the lens of setting up an experience, interaction, or initiative in a way that serves everybody that’s involved.

Michelle also shares why she reached out to some of the small group tour companies in the city, who she felt were giving the highest quality experiences in the city, to suggest they form the Experience Vancouver Group so they could learn from each other and share their expertise.


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