The key for planners looking to get a return on investment from hotel food and beverage is to work closely with the conference services manager and turn in complete banquet event orders. This was the advice given during a packed breakout session at the 2007 Financial & Insurance Conference Planners Education Forum in Dana Point, Calif., in June.

The session, led by FICP vice president, education, Kim Boriin, CMP, senior events marketing specialist, Guardian Investor Services, featured Gigi Cabrera, conference services manager, St. Regis Resort Monarch Beach, Dana Point; Kimberly Hoppe, director of catering and conference services, Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, Calif.; and Sarah Jones, CMP, director of conference services, Montage Resort & Spa, Laguna Beach, Calif.

When submitting the banquet event order, keep it concise and include BEO information in each section of your program agenda where appropriate, advised panelists. This helps clarify exactly what you will need at each point of the meeting. Refrain from sending one-off e-mails to your CSM each time you need to request a change.

When negotiating F&B for meetings with lead times of more than a year, always ask for menu pricing before signing the contract, and consider including a clause stating that menu prices will not exceed a certain percent increase. Another negotiating tactic is to include minimum and maximum F&B charges in the contract. One attendee noted that “in my contracts, I write that my F&B minimum will not be less than $50K, but if it exceeds $80K I get a certain discount.”

Creative Partners

Once your convention services manager receives the banquet event order, it goes to a variety of people at the hotel who use it to plan the various F&B aspects of your event. The more time these personnel have with the BEO, the more creative they can be:

  • banquet manager
  • executive chef
  • beverage captain
  • executive sous chef
  • food and beverage director
  • purchasing supervisor