Below are some planning guidelines for arranging functions that include food and beverages.
Type of Function – Each function, whether it be a meal, social, break or hospitality, must be carefully planned in cooperation with the host facility and caterer.
Timing and Attendance – Use your meeting program for clues as to how early to plan a breakfast the morning after a late night. Past conference history will help determine average attendance of delegate and spouse functions. If a meal function is to be held in a room you have been meeting in all day, allow time between events for the room to be reset.
Facility – What types of rooms are available? While the size of the room is extremely important, a “perfect” banquet room may prove disastrous if huge columns obstruct 30% of the attendees’ view of the speaker.
Taxes – If your organization is tax exempt, bring exemption certificates to your caterer and facility manager.
Costs – To determine the cost of each function you need to consider the following:
- Room Charges
- Cash, host or open bar
- Bartenders and waiters
Entertainment – Will there be a speaker, band, dance or other entertainment? Use this cost to determine the price per person.
Catering Policies – Some facilities restrict who can cater at their facility and may also require a caterer to pay an up-charge. Most hotels do not allow outside catering.
Seating – As with planning a meeting, setup is important. Determine if you need a head table, guest platform or dance floor. Setting a room banquet style will usually enable more people to be seated in the room.
Sound and Lighting – Make sure lighting and sound are adequate. Even those seated at the back of the room need to see and understand the speaker.
Table Service or Buffet – Table service generally takes longer to serve than a buffet. However, certain occasions call for a sit down meal. Check with your caterer or banquet provider to discuss options available.
Guarantees – Most caterers require a guaranteed amount approximately 72 hours prior to the event, but check each caterers’ policy. Determine the percentage of overages which they allow. As a rule of thumb it is about 5%. If you guarantee 100 guests, they will actually have meals available for 105, for last minute arrivals.
Theme – Some conventions have a general theme that is carried throughout.
Admission – Make all facility personnel aware of your guidelines for admission to each function. If you elect to use tickets, name badges or another form of event admission, the ACVB can help!