Providing food and beverage for your event attendees is a massive responsibility! Take the time to plan accordingly ... considering variety, local flavor and critical attendee needs
Based on the agenda, determine the number of food and/or beverage functions
Look at past consumption reports and/or history of the conference to best plan food and beverage
Determine budget for food and beverage
Determine service, tax and other fees for location
Understand policies on taxes, gratuities, service charges, cancellation and reduction
Review contract to determine if you have a F & B minimum and what items will count towards the minimum (bar fees, attendant fees, labor/banquet staff.etc.)
Note any discounts that are offered in your contract and make sure they are applied
Determine location and time of each meal function based on agenda and space allocation
Based on registration numbers, determine the estimated attendance at each meal or function
Add appropriate staff and vendor meals to F & B counts as necessary
Determine whether food and beverage services will be provided by the venue or by an outside vendor
Outline menu options for each meal, taking into consideration:
Identify the type of service needed for each meal:
Coordinate the set-up and flow for each meal or function, taking into consideration:
If drink tickets will be used, determine how additional tickets can be purchased
Take into consideration the site, sponsor and group’s policy on alcohol
What will be served (beer & wine, full bar, specialty drinks, etc.)
Timing of service
How many drinks each attendee is estimated to consume, based on the group's past consumption reports.
Insurance and liability considerations
Cash or hosted bar, open bar or limited selections.
Number and cost for bartenders; staff the appropriate number of bartenders
Don’t place a guarantee until the deadline (quantities can typically be increased after the guarantee – but not decreased)
Unless history dictates differently, or if tickets are sold for a F&B function, reduce numbers by:
Ask for food and beverage to be refreshed only at your request
Reduce quantities further if fewer attendees are expected to be present as the conference nears the end
Customize the menus by eliminating or swapping items
Select a la carte items versus ordering full meal packages to save money
Have soda, bottle beverages and non-perishable items charged based on consumption.
Consider offering pitchers of lemonade, iced tea and juices instead of sodas
Consider using water bubblers or stations instead of bottled water
Review BEO’s provided by the hotel for accuracy at least one week before arrival
Submit changes or discrepancies to hotel contact and request new BEO’s to review in full
Request food waste reports from your venue (require it in your contract/BEOs)
Ask the venue if they are part of any food donation programs and if leftover food can be donated
Ask the venue what their compost/recycling program is and ensure there are enough trash and recycling receptacles available during food and beverage functions
Provide the venue with a list of people authorized to make changes to the food and beverage and approve the banquet checks
Receive and compile a list of banquet managers and any important onsite contacts prior to arriving onsite.
Discuss if the venue has any staff recognition/gold key program to praise valuable staff.
Ensure the venue is bussing and cleaning up discarded plates and food in a very timely manner.
Request banquet checks and consumption reports at the end of each day for review and signature.
Be sure all food served is properly labeled and staff is trained on ingredients in each food items
Discuss alternative arrangements for outdoor functions if weather problems arise and make sure backup space is listed in your contract
Keep track of your costs by creating a Budget vs Actual column in the budgeting document that lists costs, increases, headcounts, etc.
In the budgeting document, be sure to plug in actuals based off of your banquet checks.
Keep track of any additional costs onsite (adding a bar, making increases, etc)
While onsite, be sure to thoroughly check food and beverage functions to ensure there are no discrepancies or missing items
Ask the venue if there is any negotiating room on listed menu prices or modifications available at a lower price point.