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The Roam Mobile Food Conference will present five learning tracks
<p> The Roam Mobile Food Conference will present five learning tracks.</p>

Food truck operators to brainstorm in Portland

A new conference is designed to meet the information needs of mobile food vendors hungry for segment-specific knowledge.

Food truck owners are typically cast as renegade operators who’ve taken an idiosyncratic approach to the restaurant business. But promoters of the new Roam Mobile Food Conference 2013 think these fiercely independent restaurateurs are nevertheless eager to learn best practices from their mobile food segment peers. That’s why Roam is presenting the industry’s first mobile food-specific conference later this month, set for Sept. 14-16 in Portland, OR.

Why go? The latest estimate from Emergent Research, who partnered with Intuit for its study, predicts that mobile food will be a $2.7 billion segment by 2017. The previous estimate, just one year old: $650 million. Roam’s backers say those already doing business in this segment, or those looking to get into it, will find plenty of educational opportunities—including menu and concept development, profit and sales improvement, marketing and more—that will help them capture their share of this growth.

Here are the five educational tracks Roam will present.

1. Innovations in mobile vending. “Learn about innovative technology, sustainability and environmentally friendly businesses practices,” Roam’s backers say. “Come see trends in mobile retail, adult beverages, and promotional vehicles.”

2. Marketing for mobile. In the food truck business, great marketing separates the successful from the invisible, say Roam’s promoters. That’s why this education track will show attendees why marketing is so important in the mobile food industry and help them discover ways to better hone marketing skills and consumer impact. Conference-goers will also explore emerging best practices for social media, online options and software applications, sponsorships, events and promotions.

3. Community development. Here’s the pitch to those who want to learn more bout permitting and other vexing legal matters that can drive mobile food vendors crazy. “Want to know and learn what it takes to have the support of your city for mobile food vendors? Government policy makers as well as mobile food advocate groups, regional associations, non-profits and others can learn about best practices in laws and city ordinances. Come network and learn ways mobile vending can benefit communities, and help meet economic goals in your city.” Expect strong attendance at this track’s sessions.

4. Growing mobile 2.0. As much as the mobile food segment has grown so far, it looks like even more growth is on the horizon. This track is designed to help operators grab their share. “Need help honing your skills or tightening your existing operations?” Roam organizers ask. ”You will find these segments for existing mobile food owners will provide you with in-depth resources and the knowledge you need to take your business to the next level.”

5. Mobile food biz 101. “Those interested in starting mobile food businesses, and those new to the game, will find topics from business planning, to mobile unit options and costing, to solid information for running a successful and profitable mobile food business,” the organizers say. In other words, this track’s for newbies.

Newbies who don’t have the funds for the full conference fee ($235) or perhaps don’t have the time to take in the full three-day conference have another option. Roam is also offering a one-day start-up boot camp on Sept. 14 for $175. Its content is tailored to the needs of those who want to fast track their entrance into the mobile food industry.

This three-day Roam event kicks off on Saturday, Sept. 14, at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Portland’s Lloyd District. The hotel is a short distance from downtown and enjoys door-to-door train service from the airport via Portland’s Tri-Met Redline Max Train. Check out the full conference program and register for this event.

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