Audio Visual vs Catering
Food at Events
Oddly enough, AV and catering do have some needs in common, mainly the need for floor space and room access. Unfortunately, this little detail is often overlooked and causes logistical problems and frustration with both food servers and Audio-Visual crews. So here are some rules to live by.
First, always let your AV provider know if there is going to be any catering in a room.
This includes buffets & serving stations, bars, and especially served meals. Here’s the kicker, give your AV company this tasty little morsel of information BEFORE they set up the AV! Here’s why. An AV set-up will often block access doors, usually on the wall where the stage is located. If that happens to be where catering needs to enter and exit, guess what? You’ve got a conflict.
In addition to obstacles such as screens, drapery, scenery, projection towers, speaker stands, equipment racks, and ground supported equipment, there is also a string of cables and power cords that hook everything together which can be trip hazards for servers. AV also needs to have a place for their empty road cases, which is most often behind the stage, drape, or screens. Once this is all set up it can be a major undertaking to re-position all this stuff to make access for catering (which, by the way, usually comes with added cost to you). If known in advance, an AV company can usually work around catering needs, even though a solution may not make either party completely happy.
Second, plan on space for catering and set some ground rules.
Speaker stacks, equipment racks, camera platforms, and stage pieces are completely off limits for use as serving platforms! Serving stations that are set-up near or in front of technical positions can also cause some unraveling of nerves. Believe it or not, these things are common problems.
Finally, schedule accordingly.
Catering needs time in the room to set tables and prep food and drinks. This can be a problem if there is still AV gear being set-up and dialed in, or if there is a scheduled rehearsal or equipment check going on. Also let your AV provider know of any room changes in advance, such as closing or opening of air walls, any changes in seating configuration, or anything else that will affect room space.
There is one more thing to keep in mind. AV gear such as cameras and technical positions always require cabling, which is often run along the floor and taped down. These cables may need to traverse open floor space as well as doorways. AV companies will do their best, but often have few options when it comes to cable paths.