Food Trucks may pose a threat to hotel catering business. Last post, in the first part of the write up I suggested that:
In fact, I went so far as to say that were I doing a SWOT analysis for a hotel catering department in a major market, I would list “Food Truck Catering” as a threat. Then I foolishly promised suggestions in Part II- how to turn this into a competitive advantage for your hotel.
OK so now what? Go buy a $100,000 food truck? That would be OK, but not, I think practical. Anyway, don’t ask me to do the ROI on that one.
So, no, don’t buy a truck. Instead, leverage what you do best, what the food trucks cannot do. Then turn it into a competitive advantage. I’ll explain. It’s simple really, and everybody wins.
Partner with a number of high quality food trucks. The way you already partner with outside caterers for certain special needs required by your customers from time to time (I’m thinking kosher events at hotels without a kosher kitchen and ethnic weddings, for example).
Next, create a new section for your catering menu, “Food Truck Events”. Think about it. How many years have you had “Mexican Station” on your menu? And when was the last time you saw a competitor without a comparable offering? Let’s get the potential customer excited. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, please see Part I.
What’s a “Food Truck Event”? It could be a tent with 5 food trucks in your parking lot. It could be your “normal” in-house reception, even wedding reception, but now two of your stations are catered by two popular (brides’ choice?) food trucks.
Catering Directors: this is a win-win-win-win (Hotel-Customer-Food Truck Operator-Employee). You add excitement to your offerings, your menu. You get new business that might not have otherwise booked with you. You’ve negotiated a margin with the food truck owner(s) plus (more important!) some exclusivity for your hotel. You don’t want every hotel offering “your” food truck offerings. The food truck owner has a source of new business. More work for your banquet team.
Why will this work? Because of the innate competitive advantages that hotels have over food trucks:
Finally, don’t forget one more thing that they have and you can leverage: a following in social media. Maybe this partner thing could really go somewhere?
So, reach out now. Find the best food trucks in your area, trucks that support your hotel’s quality level and image, and form alliances. And don’t forget to update and market that menu.