Don't Book an Event Without Reading This
Hey, folks! Running a street food cart, I know it can seem tempting to sign on for a big event. Maybe it's a music festival or a big fair or show… You know there will be lots of people there, and it seems like a sure thing. Set up your hot dog cart or lemonade stand or food trailer, and rake in the money from hungry attendees, right?
Not so fast!
Consider the Risks
Although there is a great potential income to be made from selling food at large events, you shouldn't sign up for anything without considering the possibilities for failure. This might sound negative, but you need to consider the possible income as well as the possible downsides. After all, if you make a bad or uninformed decision, it's your money on the line. This is your business.
Some big events, such as music festivals, charge thousands of dollars just to reserve a food stand spot, and you don't even get to choose your location. You could end up next to the port-a-potties.
So you need to make educated decisions, especially if the event requires a fee to get in, and if you're going to be buying thousands of dollars of product ahead of time.
Why Do Events Fail?
Besides the factors that you can't control, such as weather, there are many human-caused reasons for events to fail. You can imagine how frustrating it would be to invest in an event, getting your permits, food, drinks, supplies, and people all ready to go, and then showing up and having the whole event go badly. You might end up with a bunch of food that goes to waste. Sometimes, the actions (or inaction) of event planners and promoters can turn a good opportunity into a waste of money.
Ultimately, none of these factors are within your control. But what you must do is be prepared. Do your homework about an event BEFORE you sign anything or put money down.
How to Research an Event
There are ways to learn what to expect from an event. You need to do some digging and detective work to find clues as to whether an event will be the bomb or a big bust. Here are some ideas:
Follow the Event on Social Media
Watch for the marketing messages leading up to the event. Is there activity on the official Facebook page? Or is it strangely quiet on Facebook and Twitter? If there isn't much marketing happening, chances are there won't be a good turnout.
On the other hand, if the promoter is making a great effort to get the news out, engaging the public and even getting media coverage… That's a great sign! Watch for consistent, positive messaging, shares/rewteets, and overall buzz.
Search for Buzz
Use Google or your favorite search engine and see what other outlets are mentioning the event. The more publicity, the better.
How to Avoid Getting Screwed
If you get the feeling the event is going to be bad, pull out! Protect yourself and get out before it's too late. Be polite and tactful, but you have to cover your butt. It's business, not personal.
You might be worried about making the promoter angry, but if they run bad events, you might not want to work with them in the future anyway. Try not to burn bridges, but protect your business.
You may lose a deposit on the event, too. But you have to compare that loss to the amount you could lose if you take your food cart to the event, work work work, and end up losing money and wasting product, what is the better move? Only you can decide, but be educated so you can make the best decision for your business.
How to Plan for Events
On the other hand, say you've found a kick butt event and you're all ready to participate. Now what? How do you prepare to sell food at an event? I have tips for this, too. Try Event preparation or How to estimate supplies for events.