In recent years, there has been a spike in the popularity of food trucks — with many vendors now offering gourmet and specialized menus that put an end to preconceived notions of “street meat.” And when it comes to food trucks, location is critical; making sure that nearby consumers know where a truck is parked can make or break a day’s sales. As a result, location based services have become an excellent marketing tool for these meals on wheels. There are some great apps now available that can help you satisfy your appetite on the go — and which can help vendors make sure the line is long at lunchtime.
Roaming Hunger is a good example. The blog and smart phone app allows users to easily find food trucks in their area that could suit their appetite, cataloging trucks in most major cities across the U.S. This free app utilizes vendor tweets and calendars to keep track of the food trucks in their database. The app can be used to search for trucks near you, those recently talked about on Twitter, the most liked, savory, sweet or vegetarian. It also allows users to view truck hours of operation in addition to location which allows you to plan ahead before taking to the street.
The Food Network’s Eat St. has played a major role in promoting this food truck culture, highlighting the most innovative mobile cuisine in North America. Now, the Eat St. free app is available to help users easily track down trucks in their area. The app offers the option to search by proximity, popularity and type of cuisine. Eat St. works a little differently than Roaming Hunger, allowing food truck owners to update their own locations, menus, hours and profiles. Using GPS, users can quickly and easily get directions from their location to the food truck — which is especially great for roaming trucks that may change their location daily. Users also have the option to add food trucks to the app themselves which is great for more stationary trucks that don’t need much updating.
Another great resource is TruxMap, which has its own iOS, Android, and mobile web versions. If you’re in a major city in the United States, there’s a good chance that there’s a famous food truck driving around making something tasty on it. With TruxMap, you’ll now know exactly where they are at all times, and more importantly, if they’re serving food or not.
Many food trucks are also starting to become more socially savvy, utilizing the many other benefits of location based services such as Twitter and Foursquare. Consumers can use apps like Foursquare to get discounts, access free samples, and get updates on the latest news, and daily specials (depending on the vendor).
Asif R. Khan is a veteran tech start-up, business development and marketing entrepreneur currently serving the community as founder and president of the Location Based Marketing Association (The LBMA). Weekly podcaster at This Week In Location Based Marketing every Monday. Can be found at @AsifRKhan @TheLBMA on Twitter.