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Why Are Food and Drink Prices at Music Festivals so High.

Andy Robertson

Historically the prices charged for food and drink at music festivals is perceived to be incredibly high and it dominates the complaints festival-goers regularly make. What factors are involved in setting food and drink prices for music festivals and are they fair especially given the current economic climate of rising costs.

Many festivals can get adverse media coverage with regards to prices charged for food and drink often accusing the festival organisers of price gouging. Festival tickets are increasingly expensive but festival-goers have to budget again for on-site prices making the whole experience costly. Festival organisers have been faced with rising costs to put on their events, so it is understandable that the ticket prices are increased to reflect this but are the high prices charged by food and drink vendors really fair or just exploitative? 

Operating Costs. 
A certain amount of investment is required by any potential vendor who must commission a portable temporary kitchen, bar and refrigeration for example. These vans and trailers are not cheap and will likely only be in use for a number of weekends over a year. Vendors have to plan the ingredients they pre-purchase based on potential attendee numbers, and this can be a bit hit and miss with resulting wastage and higher costs. These costs along with supply chain challenges can really squeeze profit margins for the vendor. 

Health and Safety Licensing and Sustainability. 
Any food vendors must have the appropriate health and safety certification to process, store and sell food and this can be burden for them especially if they need to recruit certified and trained staff just for the event. Local authorities and festival organisers may also insist on additional vendor licensing adding another logistical requirement. If organisers demand a certain level of sustainability credentials for food and drink vendors in the application process this can again add more costs to comply. 

Organiser Fees. 
Festival organisers will always charge a fee for vendor pitch spaces and for the vendors these can quickly escalate if they require additional services like water and electricity or a preferable pitch location. Many organisers also demand vendors pay a percentage of every sale made increasing user costs yet further. These fees can vary but any organiser faced with disappearing profit margins see this as a good revenue generating opportunity. 

Making Prices Fair and Transparent. 
Festival organisers can improve the public and media perception of high food and drink prices at events by being more transparent about the pricing used. In the vendor application process organisers should review all menus and suggested prices and select a range of vendors that cover all pricing points. A simple statement on social media or the festival website can help explain how prices are broken down so that festival-goers gain a better understanding of why prices can be higher. Organisers can help reduce food and drink prices by reviewing their pitch space prices and fees as appropriate. Organisers should also consider allowing festival-goers to bring their own water, food and alcohol on site as long as quantities are sensibly monitored. Confiscating all food and drink at entrances antagonises festival-goers and impacts on their experience before they even get on-site. 

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. 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.

Image via Pixabay

Andy Robertson
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