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Luxury Hotels Hop on Food Truck Craze

First it was airports. Now hotels are finding their way to the food-truck craze.

ByABC News
September 25, 2014, 3:39 PM
The Four Seasons food truck is on an East Coast tour.
The Four Seasons food truck is on an East Coast tour.
Joshua Paul/Four Seasons

— -- First, it was airports. Now, hotels are finding their way to the food-truck craze.

READ: Latest Airport Food Trend? Trucks

Four Seasons -- not a name normally associated with the casual fare food trucks are known for -- kicked off its second annual food truck tour earlier this month. Visiting nine cities along the East Coast between September and November, "Taste" by Four Seasons will serve up local eats in its host cities: Think lobster rolls in Boston and pastrami sliders in New York City.

Taste is a charitable venture. A portion of the revenue from each participating hotel will be donated to a local charity in each market. Charitable causes include breast cancer awareness, foster care, education and pediatric oncology research.

But as much as the food truck is raising money, it's also a vehicle, so to speak, to raise awareness among local residents about Four Seasons restaurants in their cities.

"This is really a marketing play," said Barbara DeLollis, founder of TravelUpdate.com and social media strategist. "It's a clever way to bring the Four Seasons brand out on to the street to millennials, who are known to love trying new food trucks and may not know the Four Seasons name. The association can instantly make Four Seasons seem like a 'hip' brand that can deliver experiences that they like."

Hotel restaurants, particularly in major cities, traditionally struggle to attract a local clientele. But all that's changing as hotel restaurants up their offerings and position themselves as destinations unto themselves.

"Sales in the hotel restaurant segment of the food service industry is growing at a pretty fast clip. It’s among the fastest sales growth rates this year, actually," said Annika Stensson, senior manager of research at the National Restaurant Association.

Four Seasons isn't the only luxury brand to mobilize food. Quebec's Auberge Saint-Antoine has two gourmet food trucks -- Panache Mobile 1 and Panache Mobile 2 -- serving dishes like poutine, chilled soups and charcuterie. Some of these same items are found on the hotel's on-site restaurant, Panache.

"Over time, hotel restaurants have become more savvy, offering a variety of options, from fine dining to grab-and-go quick service, and some are venturing into the food truck space as well," said Stensson. "For trucks specifically, it’s not only a way to reach customers outside of the restaurant premises, but also a way to keep your name top-of-mind with local consumers to also nudge them into on-site restaurant visits."