1) Forgetting that history repeats itself—Historical data is valuable. If you don’t track how much regular or decaf coffee your group drinks, whether or not they eat breakfast, if they prefer beer or wine, how can you plan your meals and allocate your food budget correctly? Ask the hotel to confirm how much of each item ordered was consumed, so you have a starting point for next year.

2) Paying for what you didn’t get—First of all, ask for water, soda, or other bottled drinks to be charged on consumption. Then create a consumption sheet to track what was put out at each break, during the refresh, and how much was sent back at the end of each function.

3) Being too shy to ask—Two things to keep in mind: If you don’t ask, you don’t get, and everything is negotiable. For example: Ask that iced tea be poured at all place settings at lunch and that it be complimentary. You can provide soda for those who specifically request it, but you will still save a bundle.

4) Thinking there won’t be any surprises—Not building a contingency into every budget you create is a huge mistake. Things happen on site; be ready for them.

5) Overlooking extra charges—Hotels add steep service and tax charges to your food-and-beverage spend. Don’t forget to add that line item in your budget or build it into each meal cost. Adding 30 percent to your line items after the budget has been approved is painful.

6) Not allowing for attritionWhether your audience is internal or external, you may have to face attrition charges. Plan for it by building in a line item for attrition on 10 percent over and above your slip allowance.

7) Taking things for granted—For example, you’d think in-house audiovisual costs would be lower than using an outside production company, but that’s not always the case.

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