The Business of The Michelin Star

Asian countries have spent millions to bring the Michelin Star guide to their cities.
May 28, 2024
Facebook LogoTwitter Icon
Black LinkedIn Icon
white coat with Michelin Tire logo on left and Michelin star logo on right

Why does a tire company own the Michelin Star – the most prestigious restaurant guide in the world? That question led me down a rabbit hole this past weekend to learn more about the Michelin Star business.

French brothers Ándre and Édouard Michelin cofounded the tire-making company, The Michelin Group, in 1889, soon after the first automobiles hit the street. They believed a travel-promotion guide with information on local food places would encourage automobile owners to drive more and create more tire business for them. To further that goal, they started the Michelin Star in 1900.

Today, the Michelin Star guide plays a pivotal role in boosting food tourism. This, in turn, provides The Michelin Group with a powerful asset that they can leverage to drive substantial revenue from tourism boards, government agencies, and private travel companies:

  • The Korea Tourism Organization paid ~$1.48 million in publication support to Michelin to bring the restaurant guide to Seoul, Korea, in 2016
  • The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) reportedly pledged ~$3.96 million to Michelin in 2017

While previously reported that no cities in the U.S. had ever paid a “commission” to Michelin, Colorado state and local tourism authorities and two ski resorts pooled $600,000 last year to help bring the guide to Boulder, Denver, Aspen, and Vail.

Next time you're at a Michelin-starred restaurant, remember: it's not just a review; it's Michelin's brilliant way of making some serious dough.

Read next