In recent years, the rising cost of food and beverages has caused meeting planners to be more conservative in their spending. In some instances, F&B budgets have been slashed by half. There are some ways to provide attendees with food and beverage without breaking the bank.
Here are a few examples:
- Try starting morning meetings after 9:00 am. Attendees will have already had their breakfast by this time. You may then provide just coffee and tea at these morning meetings. The same holds true for starting meetings after lunch. If your meeting is an all-day meeting, you can take a lunch break at noon and reconvene at 1:00 pm. Be sure to notify attendees that meals are on their own well in advance.
- Use smaller cups to make the coffee and tea stretch farther. Order by the gallon.
- If providing cans of soda, be sure it’s charged on consumption.
- If your meeting is at a hotel, you may be able to negotiate complimentary coffee breaks if you’re providing the hotel with enough guaranteed sleeping rooms.
- For large-scale meetings or conventions, try getting sponsorships for the meals or coffee breaks.
- The sponsor should of course receive some kind of ROI, by posting a sign outside of the meeting room and/or adding it to the meeting materials and brochure acknowledging their sponsorship of the break or meal.
- If you’re providing lunch or dinner, consider a plated event rather than buffet. Have certain items, like salad and rolls already set on the table.
- Know your guarantee timeline; what percentage are you guaranteeing three days out, day of, and what the oversets will be.
- Do NOT agree to any “subject to change” clauses. I got burned once because I didn’t catch the clause that stated prices were subject to change according to market conditions.
- Consider having attendees confirm that they are attending the meal and providing meal tickets that they are to turn in when they enter the banquet hall.
- Think seriously about portion control. If serving meat, use a smaller size; like an eight-ounce steak rather than a 10 or 12 ounce.
- If your organization is hosting a reception, pay close attention to the size of the plates.
- Be sure to use the smallest plates for eating. Better yet, provide only cocktail napkins.
- Move the buffet tables against the wall rather than have them out in the open. Attendees will be less likely to consume more food this way.
- Forego round tables to sit at entirely and use a small number of high-top tables scattered about the room.
- By placing a small number of high-top tables and eliminating sitting tables, attendees will be more likely to mill about, networking with each other and consuming less food.
- Use servers to pass around appetizers on trays and have them provide only cocktail napkins.
- If serving liquor, use a cash bar rather than a hosted bar. Be sure to determine the price per bottle or drink beforehand.
- If providing a hosted bar, be sure you know how many glasses a bottle can provide. Get a quote of the cost per bottle. See if they will charge by consumption.
- If you have to pay for the whole bottle, have the half-consumed liquor bottles brought up to your suite for a small gathering; or, if holding another reception reserve it for then.
- Consider using smaller glasses for wine and mixed drinks, such as six ounces rather than eight ounces. If you can get away with four ounces, even better.
- Use domestic liquor, wine and beer.
- When providing a hosted bar, avoid serving pretzels, salted nuts, or other salty snacks. The salt will make attendees thirstier and they will drink more.
9. Consider a sponsor for the reception to cut down on costs, again remember to acknowledge the sponsor