Interview With Spectrum Concessions

Interview With Spectrum Concessions

In this partner in action series we interview the three heads of Spectrum's event division: Derek, Michael, and Zach. Providing a behind the scenes look of food and beverage operations at all kinds of events including music festivals, PGA tournaments, and the Super Bowl Experience earlier this year in Glendale, AZ.

How did you get into the live event industry?

Derek: I am actually a CPA and was in public accounting prior to joining Spectrum. Makes total sense, I know. In 2010 a friend of mine, Maisie, who was working at Spectrum at the time and still does to this day, said I should apply to an open position to run the finance and accounting teams...and I did. Fast forward to 2014 when we starting using a POS at our events and this team was created to manage and handle the operations, I am one of the founding fathers.

Zach: I came in much later when this team was well established. I actually knew of Spectrum since I was a kid because of my dad, he would help with Bonnaroo every year and when I was old enough I jumped at the chance to be able to work it with him. From there I just got sucked in. I started full time with Spectrum at the beginning of 2020.

Derek, Zach, Michael, Stacy and Tina

How many events does Spectrum run a year?

Derek: 66 events this year! (Since interviewed that number has grown)

In coming out of the pandemic in 2021, what was Spectrum's first event?

Zach: I'm pretty it was a PGA championship tournament.

Derek: And our first music festival that year (2021) was Railbird.

What was Spectrum's first event of 2023?

Zach: The LVII Super Bowl Experience in Glendale, running all food and beverage operations for the week long event. I was on-site managing operations and it was a lot of fun.

Super Bowl LVII Experience in Glendale, AZ

My favorite question to ask everyone is what was your most memorable event?

Derek: I think it has to be KAABOO 2016 for me. Ludacris literally saved us that night. We deployed and managed 900 iPads for the concessionaire with just 5 of us...and then all 900 iPad screens went black evening of day 1. Luckily for us, the main stage performance was ending and everyone was transitioning to an indoor area where Ludacris was about to perform and 3x the capacity worth of people were trying to get in to the show leading to SWAT being called and literally ending the festival night early. Everyone wanting to go see Ludacris saved us.

Zach: Bonnaroo 2016 would be it for me. That was gnarly. Each day of the festival would end at like 1 AM, we would be up till 6 AM syncing all 700 iPads throughout the grounds and plugging them in, go back to our trailer and sleep for a few hours and then do the whole thing over again.

Do scenarios like that still happen to you guys at events?

Derek: Not at all. We've got better processes in place with the gear we use now. Obviously we can't control outside our own team or weather in the case of Oceans Calling last year, but everything else related to our team we are dialed in.

What event are you most looking forward to this year?

Zach: Tortuga is always an awesome festival, the location is beautiful and we have a really nice setup there. I always look forward to that festival.

Derek: Oceans Calling for me. Last year was supposed to be our first but it was cancelled because of the hurricane so looking forward to getting to see it this year.

Do you see a difference in fan engagement with f&b between sporting events and music festivals?

Derek: Definitely. The biggest differences we see aren't actually between sporting events and music festivals but between genres of festivals. Like with country shows, there is lots of drinking whereas with EDM festivals...not as much.

Dobel Tequila Bar at The Genesis Invitational

Is there a least favorite event you have?

Derek and Zach together: EDM festivals.

Zach: the fans are awesome it's just the festivals themselves are not as interesting since that isn't really my taste in music.

How long has Spectrum being doing PGA events?

Derek: It's been over 30 years that we have been catering and managing food and beverage at PGA events. I'm pretty sure our founder and CEO was one of the first to initiate catering at PGA events.

Kari Huwyler, Trisha Stapleton, Michael Rozier, and Stacy Roberson at Genesis Invitational

If you could tell festival attendees that are waiting in line at the bar anything, what would you tell them?

Zach: Your fake ID won't work here!

Derek: Haha that's perfect! I think we should share the backstory behind that.

Zach: So we have an ID scanning app on all our iPads that is 99.9% accurate and our first time using it was Gov Ball in 2016. I think we ended up with close to 10,000 fake ID's from the weekend. It was absolutely insane. We usually take the ID and if the person wants to argue that it is real we tell them they can just bring an officer over to overrule our decision. No one ever did. We always make sure we safely serve but that festival was definitely was the worst I've seen to date!

What is the most notable transition you've seen at live events post pandemic compared to 2019?

Derek: No cash. Definitely the largest change for sure.

Has moving to cashless events impacted your teams onsite in any way?

Derek: It is unbelievable how much time it saves for us. Going cashless has saved us six hours every show day with no longer having to prep and distribute banks to each point of sale to handle cash. We still take cash but now only offer exact change. Even with that majority of people have switched to a cashless form of payment.

How early on do you start preparations and working on an upcoming event?

Zach: Probably two or three weeks before. It is tough because what really kicks off us being able to prepare for an upcoming event is menus being finalized.

Derek, Zach, and Michael hard at work

For those that aren't in food and beverage and on-site operations, what is something that takes more time than you would assume?

Zach: Finalization of menus and creating them in the point of sale. With having multiple factors and parties involved it becomes the biggest moving target since we don't want to start adding everything until we need to so we have minimal changes. We always will have last minute changes but we like to minimize it as much as possible. It it additional time you could waste if you don't plan accordingly.

To learn more about Spectrum Concessions click here