Conference Food and Beverage Planning Made Easy

Conference planning can be overwhelming, but the catering shouldn’t be. Food truck catering is often a simpler and more exciting approach to conference food and beverage planning.

Conference planning can be overwhelming—from choosing the dates and times to the locations and activities, event preparation requires special attention to detail. But, on top of all that, there’s the most important consideration to make when planning a conference: the menu. Aside from choosing the event center, the catering for conferences can be the most vital decision on which the success of your event depends. Let’s face it, everyone remembers if the food was good or not!

In this article, we’ll do a deep dive into conference food and beverage planning. We’ll discuss how to make the best use of your food budget, what catering options are available, and look at practical considerations for event planners. We’ll also do a comparison of traditional on-site catering versus food truck catering, so you can choose the best option to make your conference a hit. 

Food and Beverage Planning for Events

When you’re budgeting for food and drink at a conference, there are several things to consider. Of course you need to think about the size of the event, but you also want to consider what kind of service you’d like to use. For example, you may ask yourself questions like:

  • What are the venue’s capabilities as far as food service?
  • What style of food service suits your event needs best? Full service? Continental? Buffet? 
  • Will you have a meal that is integrated with a part of the event? (ie. a speaker or presentation during a lunch or breakfast) 
  • Will alcohol be served? If so, will it be included, or does a cash bar make more sense with your budget? 

There are pros and cons to every choice, and many of the decisions you make will be specific to the kind of event you want to execute. For example, a breakfast is a great way to keep motivation high at the beginning of the day, but if you’re dealing with an all-day conference, you may want to plan a lunch as well. Alternatively, you can choose to dismiss for lunch— but then you face the possibility that a percentage of attendees won’t return for afternoon sessions.

Moreover, evening dinners or cocktail parties can be an excellent way to cap off the night, but when you factor in included alcoholic beverages it can get pretty pricey. And depending on your audience, they may or may not be receptive to the idea of a cash bar. So really, what’s important is being able to gauge what you want the overall spirit of the conference to be because as a planner, you have the power to make it happen through a series of careful choices.

Food Catering for Conferences: Full Service or Food Truck?

Now let’s take a look at the kind of services available. There is traditional catering, which may or may not be included as an added service at your venue. If not, you’ll have to find an outside company to cater for the event. In either case, this will entail planning out a menu for whichever meal/meals you are serving. It can be a buffet, full service (seated, where everyone eats together), continental, snack breaks/drinks, etc. 

Food truck catering is often a simpler and more exciting approach to conference food and beverage planning. By using a food truck catering service, you have a plethora of food options to choose from…more than what’s available from anyone catering company. You can choose from trucks that specialize in any kind of cuisine, and for any meal–breakfast, lunch, or dinner. All you have to do is simply reach out with the number of attendees, the size of the venue, and get an estimate. 

Food trucks also come cheaper than traditional catering. On average, traditional catering can come to around $100 per person, while food trucks are more like $15 per person, making a huge difference. However, you need to keep some of the limitations in mind. Traditional catering is all-inclusive, which means that you get staffing, set up, and very often beverage and dessert service. Food trucks typically bring more of a casual picnic vibe, which may not work with more traditional events. 

Also remember that when you are working with food trucks, you’ll need to schedule pretty far in advance to be sure that the trucks you want are available. Three to six months prior to your event is typically the recommended amount of time to allot.  

Some events that are ideal for food truck catering include: 

  • Day events/ outdoor events (company picnic or carnival)
  • Industry conferences
  • Company summits
  • Professional society conferences 

Catering Menu Ideas and Pricing

For larger events, you’re looking at a fairly diverse group of people. One of the benefits of choosing food truck catering is that you can offer a variety of foods that meet the different dietary tastes and needs of a bigger crowd. 

When you hire a food truck, you’re also looking at an average cost of between $15-$35 per person, so it’s important to plan accordingly. This means that for every hundred attendees, you’ll need to set aside $1500 to $3500. 

Other than that, you’ll need to decide whether you want to start off the day with a bang by hiring breakfast or brunch trucks. This can be a way to boost positivity early, while afternoon food trucks can keep your attendees on task, so they don’t scatter and avoid coming back for afternoon events. 

Regardless of your specific event needs, when you take everything into consideration, food truck catering is usually the most cost-effective and convenient way to handle your next big corporate or nonprofit affair— and have fun doing it!

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How to Make Your Brand Tangible with Food Truck Marketing

In today’s highly competitive and dynamic marketing landscape, businesses are vying for audiences’ attention, and food truck marketing has proven to be one of the most effective strategies.

Food trucks are well-known for pushing the limits with their tasty and creative cuisines, popular for coming up with some pretty unique creations. What is less known about food trucks, though, is that they also make an excellent marketing strategy: food, and especially the mobile food experience, is now at the center of experiential marketing

Thanks to ‘foodie’ culture and wellness trends online, what your event attendees eat is often equally as important as the overall brand messaging. This means that you can’t neglect the importance of food quality when you’re using food trucks to raise brand awareness. This can seem intimidating, but the fact of this actually presents a tremendous opportunity: something as simple as ensuring your event is prepared with delicious food can create a connection with your customers and establish consumer loyalty for years to come.

Given the crowded digital space, it’s no wonder that it’s hard to leave a lasting impression on customers. That’s why people have turned to food truck marketing, appealing to companies of all types and sizes. Through food truck marketing you can launch unique advertising and innovative promotional tours that are completely different from what people are accustomed to in the age of the internet.

It’s not just us who are catching onto how impactful promotional food truck marketing can be, too, which is why it has become a go-to option for even multinational companies.

Take the example of Tesla. One of the most famous and revolutionary companies in the world, and in all of history, used nothing other than a street food trailer to launch their Model X in the Italian market. Of course, in typical Tesla fashion, their new super electric car towed the street trailer and the kitchen was powered through solar energy, but regardless, the company resorted to these same tactics of food marketing.

The fact that companies of this magnitude are turning to food truck marketing indicates the efficiency and communicative power of these vehicles. In today’s highly competitive and dynamic marketing landscape, businesses are vying for audiences’ attention, and food truck marketing has proven to be one of the most effective strategies.

Why Do You Need a Food Truck for Your Brand

You may still be wondering: ‘why is food truck marketing so popular?’ 

Well, through food truck experiential marketing, you can showcase your brand creatively by using unique branding, engaging social media content, and creating a space for your customers to engage with your brand face-to-face.

Simply put, food trucks capture attention and intrigue customers in ways that other forms of marketing can’t. Wrapped in company logos, food trucks take your brand to the streets and offer customers the ultimate mobile pop-up experience that they can’t ignore, and certainly can’t forget.

Branding Your Food Truck to Create Engagement

There are certain considerations you might make when branding your food truck, too. In most cases, it might be beneficial to decorate with pop colors, add noticeable company logos from all angles, and employ creative fonts that draw people’s attention as ways to maximize engagement. Branding your very own food truck gives you the creative leverage to build excitement around your brand, so it’s important to pay mind to all those details.

Food Truck Marketing Heats Up Your Brand

With branding that engages your audience and custom-wrapping that draws attention, food trucks are among the most effective and creative promotional tools for giveaways, sampling, and retail promotions. 

Also note that social media can be extremely valuable for campaigns. In addition to the engagement that you can leverage from using hashtags, food trucks that pull up and start dishing out free food and swag are sure to be talked about on various social media platforms, and this too will help grow your company’s brand awareness.

Food Truck Offers Create Excitement and Buzz

Another way to drive up consumption is by adding some enticing food truck offers. As most of us know, it’s extremely challenging for anyone to pass up a good deal. You can, for instance, add one free meal after a customer has spent a value of 50$; this will help increase your business revenue and attract food truck customers towards your company.

Why spend thousands of dollars on a single stationary billboard when you can rent and brand food truck(s) that will help you get more meaningful exposure?

Promote Direct Interaction and Create Buzz About New Products

You probably already know how important interaction is when it comes to campaigns and promotions, and that’s why branded food trucks garner national attention: there’s an inherently interactive and authentic feature to food truck marketing that resonates with a larger audience for a longer period of time. Follow Stouffer’s lead and realize that there’s really no better way to generate buzz around a new product or event than by taking to the streets via a mobile food vehicle.

Concluding Thoughts

When it comes to experiential food truck marketing, the sky’s the limit. From customized menus and food creations to great gift giveaways and trending hashtags, food truck marketing presents an exciting way to get the word out about your brand and products. 

Whether you’re looking for a fun and unconventional way to promote your company, or you’re wanting to be noticed by potential customers, there is no better or more affordable platform than these rolling restaurants.

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Can I Hire a Food Truck for a Holiday Event?

The cornerstone of any good holiday is the food, and choosing the right holiday catering can make or break your event. That’s why getting a food truck for your holiday event is one of the best choices you can make.

The holidays can be one of the most joyful and rewarding times of year, but they can also be one of the most demanding. With so many holiday events to plan both professional and personal, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The cornerstone of any good holiday is the food, and choosing the right holiday catering can make or break your event. 

That’s why getting a food truck for your holiday event is one of the best choices you can make. Here are 5 great benefits that holiday food truck catering can bring you this holiday season.

5 Benefits of Hiring a Food Truck for your Holiday Event

1. ELIMINATE STRESS

One of the biggest benefits to catering in general is it takes a massive weight off an event planner’s back. It can be so easy to show up to an event and eat a plate of food, thinking “well how much work could that really have taken.” But when something goes off without a hitch, it can be easy to disregard the work it takes for an event to go smoothly.

Planning food by yourself means hiring competent staff, creating a menu, testing the food items to make sure they are quality, taking allergies into consideration, and cleaning up once everything is done. That’s just the major issues to tackle; anyone who has planned an event before can tell you little things will endlessly pop up. So why not just eliminate that stress entirely with holiday food truck catering?

2. MOBILITY

One of the best parts of a food truck is the “truck” itself. Food trucks are an all-in-one mobile kitchen, and have the ability to travel to an event no matter the location. With traditional catering, your proximity to their central kitchen determines just how fresh the food will be. With a food truck, food is prepared on-site, no matter where your event takes place.

3. FOOD VARIETY

With many catering options, what you see is what you get. Sure, companies will give you a few sets of options, but those options tend to be set in stone. With holiday food truck catering, you have the ability to completely customize every part of the menu. This especially comes in handy if any of your guests have specific food allergies that need to be accommodated. 

Not only that, but with a self-contained kitchen like a food truck, there is always the option to have multiple different cuisines present together. You could have a food truck with a more exotic fare, with one serving more traditional food right next to it. This way, every single person that attends your event will be satisfied. 

4. COST

High-end catering isn’t cheap, and food trucks can often offer a better deal than a fancier catering service. You can get the same output and final result, but with less of that overpriced flash. A food truck provides a delicious experience for your guests while staying efficient enough to keep pricing competitive.

5. BRANDING

If you’re planning the holiday food truck catering for a professional event, food trucks also give you the option of branding. This allows you to wrap the food truck in your brand’s image, and get some experiential marketing value out of your event. 

Experiential marketing is a great way to form long-lasting emotional connections with potential consumers, and a food truck is one of the best methods to accomplish that. 

Where Can I Hire a Food Truck for a Holiday Event?

The best choice you can make this holiday season is the New York Food Truck Association. Our group of the best mobile food vendors in New York will provide your guests with a culinary experience they will never forget. 

Don’t leave your event’s success to chance. Give your guests the gift of an amazing meal this holiday season by contacting NYFTA today!

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