Food trucks are one of the most delicious trends to drive into meetings and events in recent memory. If you've never actually hired one for a private event, however, there are a few things you should know, according to meetings technology company Social Tables, which recently published a guide to food trucks on its blog.
For starters, it's a good idea to know how much they cost. "The food truck business has been booming for more than a decade; it's now a $2 billion industry and growing," Social Tables observes. "Despite their popularity, they don't break the bank for event organizers. In fact, food truck catering can be significantly less expensive than traditional catering."
Specifically, food trucks typically cost from $10 to $35 per guest, or $1,000 to $3,500 for a group of 100. The cost can be higher or lower depending on a number of factors, including the payment structure you choose. You can have attendees pay for themselves as if they were normal patrons, for example, in which case you promise the truck a guaranteed minimum amount of sales and promise to make up any shortfall. Or you can set the food truck up like a caterer so that it provides a set menu for a set number of guests.
You also should know how many food trucks you'll need. "A reasonable starting estimate is one food truck per 200-300 attendees," Social Tables explains. "You will need several trucks if eating a meal is one of the central draws of the event, such as a lunchtime employee appreciation picnic. And you will need to book several trucks if everyone is going to eat at once."
Finally, you need to know where to find food trucks, and where to place them. To find them, check sites like Roaming Hunger, FoodTrucksIn and Yelp, Social Tables suggests. "Submit and lock down your dates early -- food trucks are in demand," it says. "Roaming Hunger will even take information about your event and budget, find suitable food trucks in your area and handle the booking for you."
To place your truck, look for flat ground at your venue, somewhere near where the action will be so that attendees don't have to abandon the event to eat.
Oh, and don't forget the basics. "Attendees will want somewhere to enjoy their meals, even if they come in cardboard trays, so consider providing tables," Social Tables concludes. "Place a station for cutlery and napkins halfway between the tables, so guests don't have to interrupt the food truck cooks to ask for more. The truck operators will provide at least one garbage can, but you should provide more -- and ensure they are emptied when almost full. You don't want a lovely outdoor event tarnished by overflowing garbage."
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