April 2011 | In recent years, gourmet food trucks have been all the rage in the U.S., serving up all kinds of high-end cuisine, ranging from Korean BBQ to upscale desserts, while using Twitter to let customers know where they will be parking on any given moment.
Air France ‘Gourmet Food Truck’
To promote the airline and its service, Air France has also jumped on the food truck ‘trend’ and for 5 days (March 24th through March 28th) an Air France ‘Gourmet Food Truck’ toured Manhattan, New York, serving complimentary food. Chefs from airline caterer Flying Food Servair handed out free food samples based on the recipes of Air France’s Michelin-starred chef Joël Robuchon.
Items on the menu included Pain au Chocolat for breakfast, cucumber and smoked salmon brochette (lunch), French Shepherd’s Pie with duck confit (dinner) and assorted French macarons and petits fours as a dessert.
Parked in one location per day, the Air France food truck could be found at respectively Rockefeller Center, Union Square, SoHo/Broadway and Wall Street. The exact location could be followed via Air France USA’s Twitter stream and Facebook page.
An estimated 600 samples of breakfasts, lunches and dinners were served each day during the promotion. There was also a sweepstakes for two Air France tickets to Paris, and those who received a free meal were encouraged to make a donation to City Harvest, a rescue organization dedicated to feeding New York’s less fortunate citizens.
Austrian Airlines coffee and schnitzel
Air France isn’t the first airline to tour Manhattan with a food truck. In June 2010, Austrian Airlines drove a ‘Café-to-Go’ truck around the steets of New York City for 10 days, serving free coffee to people passing by. Locations where the truck would show up were announced via Twitter. Vienna is known for its traditional coffee-houses and Austrian also features a ‘Viennese coffee house’ service onboard its flights. In November 2010, the airline held a similar campaign, teaming up with ‘The Schnitzel & Things Truck’ to give away variations of the national Austrian dish for a week.
Experiental marketing: Delta SKY360, Southwest Porch
The deployment of food trucks by the likes of Air France and Austrian are part of a wider marketing trend. As people are bombarded with marketing messages, real-life interaction with products and brands (a.k.a. experiential marketing) has become increasingly valuable for airlines to get their message across. For example, Delta Air Lines has opened a series of ‘SKY360 lounges’ at sports venues as well as film and culinary festivals in the U.S. to let the general public experience its product. Southwest Airlines, meanwhile, has opened ‘porches’ in downtown New York and Denver.
Austrian Air tours New York with ‘cafe-to-go’ Twitter truck, serving free coffee
Delta opens SKY360 lounges at events to let visitors sample its product
Thai airlines open take-away deli’s in downtown Bangkok