We'll try to make our monthly blog relevant and useful to anyone planning an important event, whether it be a small board meeting or a large annual convention. There are always economies to be realized without sacrificing content or attendee experience.
When organizations start conducting meetings, we often see they assign the responsibility to a staff person who already has a full time job! And I can assure you, even with a small board meeting or seminar, a trained expert can coax concessions from your venue, provide greater flexibility on your meeting block performance requirements, improve your F & B costs, assure the meeting is conducted in a professional & timely fashion and assess what can be improved for the next event.
Food and beverages guarantees are often a make or break factor in the event budget. It becomes more difficult to project those numbers when venues require your guarantees 72 (business) hours before the event occurs. In some cases, your registration is not even open and you need to estimate on-site registrations and calculate how may breakfasts, lunches, dinners or people will attend. Questions abound -- how many individual pieces of canapes do you need, is it better to select a bar package (open for set period of time and charged based on the number of people) or should you take the apparent risk by electing to be charged based on consumption, and how can you verify the number of individual cocktails, glasses of wine, sodas & water are actually served versus what you are charged? And, as the venues reduce the percentage over your guarantee they are prepared to serve, it becomes a slippery slope indeed.
It is critical that you look at your event's past history (if you have one for this event) to help predict the future quantities you need to nail the guarantees. If you don't have history of performance against guarantees, start assembling it. You can certainly determine what you paid for at past events and make sure someone starts tracking how many people actually attend each individual component of your event. In the case of a reception where you ordered appetizers or canapes by the piece, assign someone to check periodically how the food is holding up. And at the end of the event, make sure to check to determine if you over-ordered or if you ran out. And if you did run out - when did that happen? Fifteen minutes before the event was over or 15 minutes after the doors opened?
Also consider the impact your venue has on the percentage of registrants that attend each event. If you are at a destination resort, you should expect most of your registrants to attend. If you are in Las Vegas, that will certainly impact attendance and change the formula.
Remember, meeting planning is an ongoing cycle -- you will assess, plan, train & meet in an overlapping fashion. The more thorough you are in assessing your meeting, before-during-after, the more accurate and successful you become.
F & B is such a crucial element in successful event planning, we will address this often in the months to come
We welcome your questions & input and will try to serve as a "help desk" with any problems you encounter.