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Managing Festival Backstage Catering.

Andy Robertson

Festivals are driven by the skilled professional people involved in managing every aspect of the event organisation and logistics. With large festivals using hundreds of volunteers, staff, artists, crews and contractors it is essential that sufficient facilities are put in place to provide top quality backstage catering solutions.

Most festival organisers will contract the provision of backstage catering to an experienced and professional company. The contracted caterer should be delivering quality food and beverages to a strict schedule that matches pre-orders in a timely manner to a satisfactorily high standard. In selecting any supplier, it is important for festival organisers to check the menu variety of hot and cold meals plus availability of vegetarian and vegan options. Most catering suppliers will offer a tasting and sampling exercise to assist in selection. Organisers must also balance quality against price too as a major consideration because only a small proportion of the backstage catering costs can be recouped.

Planning and Logistics. 
In order to estimate potential costs organisers should consider how many meals they are providing for different groups. 200 volunteers will need 3 meals a day for example, that’s 1,800 meals for a 3-day festival. Add into this any permanent festival staff and contractors and the numbers can soon add up to a significant budget. It's not just the numbers that need careful planning there are also dietary requirements that need to be established plus additional options of hot or cold meals and the option to take-away pre-packed meals for example. For artists and crew similar planning is required but meal planning can be taken from the artist advance with the addition of provision of food and beverages as specified in any riders for dressing rooms. It is not unusual to provide a limited choice to volunteers, staff and contractors but offering a wider menu choice to artists and crew as they can be more demanding.

Dynamic On-site Management. 
Any catering contractor must make allowances for changes during the event as personal circumstances often change. Volunteer's schedules get moved around which means they will turn up for their meal at an unscheduled time, it is also common for staff and volunteers to switch from a sit-down meal to wanting to have a take away option. The backstage caterers should employ elements of flexibility in their food delivery to allow for constant changes. Good planning for such circumstances can help to avoid any food wastage too. It is not uncommon for people to change their order selection but this can be managed by making a nominal charge for changing from any pre-booked options. Anyone who has pre-booked meals can been issued with a meal voucher that utilises QR codes for example to match their order.  

As well as providing the pre-booked meal options it’s wise to offer an al-a-carte ordering option for unexpected people who are not on any planned booking system. In such cases catering contractors should be utilising contactless ordering and cashless payments. 

For organisers planning their music festival using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their meal planning logistics for volunteers, staff, contractors and artists. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.

Photo by Ponyo Sakana from Pexels

Andy Robertson
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