Lufty duck with soda pop braised short rib and pumpkin ravioli. Lufthansa USA / Twitter
In a few short years food trucks have evolved from much maligned ‘roach coaches’ to sought-after gourmet restaurants — and everyone wants to get into the mobile food business.
Recently Lufthansa USA’s #TourofAmerica took its business-class in-flight experience on the ground to six cities from New York to Los Angeles; and Four Seasons’ #FSFoodTruck is currently bringing portions of its hotels’ menus to nine cities from Boston to Miami (it concludes on November 11). Each city is a clear target market for either the airline or the luxury hotel brand.
There is a bit of disconnect between food trucks and luxury, but both brands have argued why this works for them, from adding an element of surprise to showcasing regional food to connecting their chefs with new customers.
At Four Seasons, the goal is to drive traffic to hotel food and beverage outlets wherever a customer might find them. Although an average diner spends roughly $7 at the truck, the price gives a feeling that eating on property is accessible. “The Four Seasons Food Truck provides a canvas for each culinary team involved to bring its creativity and craft to their local community in a way that is unexpected for a luxury hotel company,” said Sorya Gaulin, Director, Corporate Public Relations, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.
Alison Russo, Manager, Lufthansa Social Media Marketing USA told Skift, “The popularity of food trucks in the U.S. allowed us to take the experience on the road to reach a large number of people.” This menu Lufthansa has recently been sharing in its trucks was made available for U.S. outbound flights from its 17 cities in May. Five months later, Lufthansa USA took it to the streets to attract as many people as possible — whether or not they can afford business class — with complimentary meals on wheels.
The history between the airline and the largest in-flight catering company dates back to when LSG was Lufthansa’s caterer in Germany — predating its acquisition of Sky Chefs, becoming LSG Sky Chefs in 2001. Developing the flavors was collaborative and scientific. Ernst Derenthal, Area Manager Americas, Product Design and Caterer Management mentioned how he worked closely with chefs from LSG Sky Chefs to adapt the recipes high and low elevation.
Four Season’s east coast road trip was not its first. Last year, they learned that the “concept was a valuable tool to engage and excite the local community in each of the eight west coast [Palo Alto to Santa Fe} markets visited,” said Gaulin.
Each of Four Season’s menus was created by its local, on-property restaurant chefs. The latest stop was in Atlanta where Park 75’s Executive Chef Robert Gerstenecker at was on location to talk about the food. Its multiple-day visit included a battle against a local food truck, Yumbii Food Truck. To further align its mission of being local, a percentage of the sales will be donated to Georgia Cancer Center for Excellence at Grady Health System, a partner and a cause that Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta has supported since 2006.
A photo posted by Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta (@fsatlanta) on Oct 10, 2014 at 11:24am PDT
Sharing on Social Media
Lufthansa USA’s strongest social media presence is on Twitter, which had the most engagement in comparison to Facebook and Instagram. When looking at the recent #TasteofAmerica contest entries, its audience was more inclined to upload photos through Instagram. “UGC is very important to us, we want to know what is important for them, perhaps new flavors for future menus,” said Lufthansa’s Russo in a phone interview.
“The biggest social media success of the Food Truck campaign is engaging with consumers on the local level via the social channels at each individual property,” stated Four Seasons’ Gaulin. Each property had its own social media handle and a curated selection of content appeared on its online magazine, taste.fourseasons.com.
Skift Take: Brands undertaking ambitious roving dining experiences need to reward their audiences for their social engagement to make the trip worth it.
— Joyce Manalo