Event Food and Beverage. While it’s a highlight for attendees, it can come at a high price for planners making it a highly scrutinized line item in most event budgets. In an effort to find balance, we tapped our own expert corporate planner, Danielle Strong, CMP to share her tried and true tips and we’re bringing you five of her proven ways to minimize food and beverage expenses without sacrificing quality for your meeting guests.
#1 - Buffet vs Plated? Buffet menus tend to be a bit higher priced than plated menus but the food goes a long way. This is a solution for those who are unsure of their attendance at an event and don’t want to run out of food. For example, if you are showing an expected attendance of 1000 but could have an overage, go ahead and guarantee the 1000 but know that there is enough food for approx. 15-20% more before you start to run out.
#2 - Two words – “On Consumption”: Counts, counts, counts… it’s always better to “refresh” your “on consumption items” than set too many out for a free for all. For example, you put 20 soft drinks out and refresh as they run out. This discourages attendees from taking two or three beverages and storing them away for later. It is also important to ensure proper counts of “on consumption” items when they are placed out and when they are cleared away to keep the banquets team honest.
#3 – The Art of Coffee: Ordering coffee is an art because once it’s made, you have bought it whether it gets drank or not. Start with 1 ½ cups for 50% of the group if it’s a morning event; 1/2 of that amount in decaf and 1/3 of that amount in hot water for tea… you can ALWAYS replenish. Plan on 25% of the group to drink coffee in the afternoon.
#4 – Collaborate and Get Creative: Set a budget and work with the chef. Chefs love to have a hand in your menu selections. Work through your budget numbers and ask your catering manager and chef to put their personal touch on a special menu for your group that works within your budget. Standard banquet menus at any facility are designed to just get you to pick one at their price. Get creative!
#5 - Go Green: Work with your catering manager and garde-manger chefs at your venue to agree to use all edible “garnishes” on your platters, trays, etc. For example, use orange peeled in a rainbow for garnish that is also ready to eat!
What are some other ways you have gotten creative with your food and beverage planning to cut costs without losing impact for your guests?
Danielle Strong, CMP is a veteran corporate event planner and managing director of Sterling Events Group’s Meetings division, based near Winston-Salem, NC. She can be reached at 336/397-2004 or email@example.com