In this three part blog series, I am going to share my own tips and tricks in stretching the conference budget. We will cover F&B, Going Green with Mobile Conference Apps and a final post on Entertainment and Décor. In this post I am focusing on strategies in stretching my food & beverage budget.
As an event planner, it’s our job to do everything we can to maximize our marketing dollars at events. Every table, speaker, centerpiece has a purpose & a strategy – made by an expert in conference design. These days, it’s so much more than having a visually pleasing event, it’s all about stretching our dollars and proving value with ROI.
I am just finishing up a large Users Conference at an internationally recognized resort in southern California, and while I try my very best to leverage my relationship (aka butter her up) with my conference services manager, it is very clear: she works for the hotel and is responsible for bringing in revenue and I am here to make sure I maximize every single dollar my company has sunk into this event!
Here are a few ideas to stretch your F&B budget:
- Maximize your morning breaks – Ask the hotel to serve the leftover uneaten breakfast breads and pastries at your morning break. The croissants and danishes are made to keep well for several hours, why waste? This little trick will save you several hundred dollars.
- Cut down on soft drinks/on consumption fees – Most people don’t know this, but almost every hotel’s buffets and plated meals come with complimentary iced tea and coffee. Have the tables set with iced tea to encourage guests to drink what is in front of them; place the soft drinks in the back of the room or lawn, several feet away from the tables. Potential Savings: If half of your group skipped the diet soda in place for the complimentary iced tea, you can save on average $500. That’s figuring a group of 200 at $5.00/drink.
- Maximize your afternoon break – Again, let’s repurpose those desserts we didn’t consume at lunch! Often, lunch buffets come with a couple of mini bite desserts and by the time we have gone through the line and sampled one of each entrée option, there is no room for dessert! Have the hotel re-plate the uneaten desserts at the afternoon coffee break. Potential Savings: at $50 – $65/dozen for lemon bars & brownies this little trick is saving you $500 – $1,000!
- Snacks on consumption in general – You know, we all love something for free…you see the lines 10 people deep in Costco for the bite of a half of a ravioli with Prego Sauce! I have found often times people will take one of each type of snack offered – a sweet & a salty snack as well as grab a coke. You will see many people grab one for now & one for later. Baked goods do not pack well into purses & pockets and most people will only take one. Potential Savings: I saw one afternoon break go up $2200 when we offered packaged snacks, this was on a 250 person event at $5.75/snack. WOW!! Never making that mistake again.
- Water – I was going to put this under the snacks on consumption bullet but it deserves its own dedicated paragraph! Bottled water has the same portability as other packaged goods – one bottle fits easily in your hand & the other in your purse for later. We all need water, ask the venue to offer a water station with cups for your attendees. This is done complimentary by the hotel and satisfies attendees’ thirst & your budget saving goals.
Thanks for reading this far, I hope I provided you with some great ideas. When I have googled F&B saving tips, all I found were random tips like serving well alcohol at the event (well…..duh).
Feel free to email me at Elizabeth@docs.xponow.com to learn more about event planning with our Mobile Conference App or leave a comment directly on the blog post.
Elizabeth Knox, Event Planner Extraordinaire