Tour Operators Expansion on the menu for provider of local foodie experiences By Michelle Baran / July 17, 2017 Share 1 -- Over the past three years, French startup VizEat has grown into the largest online booking platform for locally hosted culinary experiences, consisting of a network of more than 22,000 hosts in 110 countries.VizEat launched as a booking app for travelers interested in having interactions with locals that revolved around food.It has grown into a global meal-sharing platform, where guests can book a wide variety of culinary experiences, including a simple meal in a host's home, an interactive market visit, a cooking class or an elaborate, high-end feast prepared by an accomplished chef. Prices for these experiences range from $10 to $165 per person. And VizEat has begun to make those experiences available via partnerships with tour operators and agents. Last month it forged a relationship with U.S. tour conglomerate the Travel Corporation, and starting this summer guests traveling with the Travel Corporation brands will have access to experiences such as a pasta-making class in Rome, a market tour in Barcelona and a wine and cheese tasting in Paris.The Travel Corporation -- which includes Trafalgar, Insight Vacations, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection and Contiki -- is building VizEat experiences into some of its itineraries, in which case the hosted meals will be included. In addition, many of the dinners will be available as optional excursions, typically in the $45 to $80 range. VizEat had inked a deal with Virtuoso in May, making its locally hosted dining encounters bookable by Virtuoso agents.According to VizEat CEO Jean-Michel Petit, the food, while important, is not the primary draw. What people are really looking for are connections, he said. "The table is a social network," Petit said. "At the end of the day, it's a very human experience."Similar to Airbnb, on VizEat both the hosts and the consumers create online profiles, and both can be reviewed. Petit said that travelers spend a lot of time looking at the hosts' profiles, presumably looking not just for culinary experiences that seem intriguing but for hosts who might have similar tastes or lifestyles."People spend more time on the profile than on the food," said Petit, who said that the thinking is, "'I'm going to spend three hours with these people.' We see families going with families, we see young people with young people, vegans with vegans, kosher with kosher."He also said that VizEat is not about replacing travelers' desires to go out and experience restaurants. In fact, he said, one of the most frequently asked questions hosts receive from their guests is what their favorite local restaurants are.The majority of VizEat's hosts are in Europe, but the company is looking to grow its network worldwide, especially in Southeast Asia, Latin America and urban destinations in the U.S. The company has poured a lot of energy into its technology so that, for instance, there are more instantly bookable options in the event that time-strapped travelers can't wait for a response on a booking. It also insures its customers and hosts for things such as food-related illness, injury or loss of valuables Petit said that VizEat plans to announce a steady flow of partnerships with various factions of the travel industry, including hotels and transportation companies. "The plan is really to become the definitive or the dominant player in this area," he said.