Many functions and services in our modern-day world have become automated. Despite the ease and convenience technological advances have ushered into our lives, this phenomenon has caused some to ponder what the long-term effects will be on our society and culture. There is concern that human interaction will slowly fade and be replaced by machines. And in many facets of life, this is already happening.
There are both positive and negative aspects to an increasingly mechanized, push-button society. We can now process ourselves through a grocery store checkout line, scanning and paying for items ourselves without the assistance of a cashier. Within seconds on the Internet we can dial up directions without the need for a physical map, or learn about historical figures without help from a shelf full of encyclopedias.
Systems within the business world have been streamlined to the point where we can video conference with people half a world away, or download large documents and send them to the farthest corners of the globe in a matter of seconds.
Effects of Automation on Concession Businesses
Although traditional in many ways, the concession businesses have not been spared from the effects of technology. Concession trailers and food carts are staples at local carnivals, festivals, concerts and sporting events. With racks full of snacks and candy on display, coolers filled with cold water and soda, popcorn makers popping and hot dog rollers turning, these stands have taken care of multitudes of hungry and thirsty customers for many years. Part of the charm of the concession trailer is the interaction with friendly vendors who will greet us with a smile before quickly and enthusiastically gathering up our order.
Although we still experience that personal touch from a large percentage of concession stands around the country, there are now automatic concession carts and trailers which eliminate the human interaction aspect of the business.
The Modern Food Cart
The very nature of technological evolution dictates a decrease in personal interaction and brings forth convenience and ease-of-use. By eliminating vendor-customer interaction, many of these modern food concession trailers are not much more than large vending machines or kiosks. With LCD readouts, change machines and microwaves integrated into this automatic vending system, customers are able to serve themselves with the push of just a few buttons.
The smaller self-serve vending trailers usually contain about two or three snack machines and a beverage machine. The larger automatic vending trailers can house around 9 or 10 different machines offering a combination of various snacks, microwaveable sandwiches, beverages and hot drinks.
While quick and convenient, hot sandwiches often must be warmed up by the customer in a microwave located on the trailer. Additionally, bottled soft drinks are the rule rather than the exception, therefore those who enjoy a fountain drink with ice on a hot summer day may no longer have that luxury.
Overall, there are positives and negatives when comparing automated food trailers to traditional ones manned by a vendor. You just have to ask yourself which will your customers prefer; The quickness, convenience and organization of self-serve? Or the personal touch and freshness of the traditional food cart? Regardless of technological advances, for many people the sights, sounds and smells of an event are woven into the total experience, and traditional concession stands are part of that.