For most meeting planners, planning for a main event often involves food and beverage. And, as most meeting planners will also tell you, when planning an event with food and beverage you can chew up a large portion of your budget. Our experiences have taught us that there are ways that you can execute a successful event without breaking the bank.
Event Planning Tips to Keep Your Budget in Check
There are ways that you can have your cake and eat it too. Of course it”s vital that you do establish a budget for your event. It”s vitally important that you know how much you have to spend in order for you to make the best decisions for the event.
Here are a few key areas to address that will help you in your decision-making process.
The Facility or Venue
Of course we would all love nothing more than to take our group to the hottest venue in town. But, in reality, sometimes that”s just not within your budget. And there”s nothing wrong with that. There are a lot of great places in many convention cities that you can choose where your guests will have an outstanding experience.
Whenever I”ve done site visits I”ve always tried to prequalify my client to determine where they have flexibility and where they do not. Unfortunately I”ve also had cases where I”ve had to explain to many a meeting planner that they need to be more flexible as what they want for their group doesn”t necessarily match their budget. And I admit that can sometimes be a very difficult feat.
Generally speaking when you take a group outside of the hotel to what”s referred to as an “off-site venue” you are often charged a facility rental fee. For budget conscious groups, I always present the possibility of keeping the food and beverage function inside the hotel. Nowadays most hotels have outstanding banquet facilities. And the beauty of keeping a group “in-house” is that you will not be charged a room rental fee. The savings here can be in the thousands.
Many meeting planners have told me that they are often hesitant about providing their budget to a caterer as they feel that the price will always come in around the budgeted amount (even when it could have been cheaper if the caterer wasn”t aware of the budget). Now I”m sure there are those catering companies out there that may match dollar for dollar what the meeting planner told them. But my advice, and experience, is that it does not hurt to divulge your budget. My experiences has taught me that many caterers will help work within your budget all while designing a menu that is still appealing for your delegates.
Quite often if you are hosting a function at an off-site venue, say a Museum for example, the client is often charged a service and equipment fee. This additional fee is because many off-site facilities do not have kitchens. And as I”ve outlined here before, the service and equipment costs can be as much as the food menu cost itself. If you select a facility that has catering facilities on site, you will save a considerable amount.
Another aspect of the menu cost is the food menu itself. Many meeting planners tell me they like to host food stations as it allows their guests to mingle and offers a variety of dishes. Food stations are great as they can easily be incorporated into the atmosphere of the venue. If you are budget conscious, and you”re not hosting a sit-down dinner, one consideration would be to have passed hors d”oeuvres. But better make them heavy hors d”oeuvres (that”s about 10 to 12 pieces per person) if you”re not having a sit-down meal. For those that are adamant about food stations, work with your caterer in designing a menu that could have a pasta food station, for example, along with past hors d”oeuvres. The planner has much more control on the quantity of food that is being distributed. And the delegates are still satisfied as servers have been making the rounds with a variety of hors d”oeuvres.
For many meeting planners, hosting a food and beverage function is viewed as chewing up a large portion of their overall meetings budget. But by working with an event planner, as well as the caterer themselves, there are many ways that you can offer an outstanding food and beverage event without blowing the budget.