by Art Pfenning | September 01, 2004

It’s an old stereotype the business event with an open bar, where boisterous attendees keep flocking for refills. But how prevalent is excessive drinking at meetings? To find out, M&C conducted an online poll in July. Nearly all (94 percent) of the 602 planners who responded said they serve alcohol at their organizations’ events. 
    chartThe rest of this study’s results suggest planners are adept at controlling alcohol consumption before it becomes a problem. For example, three quarters of those polled said they keep the bar open only for a limited period of time at events. More than a third (35 percent) said they issue drink tickets in order to cap the amount of alcohol attendees can consume, and a quarter (26 percent) offer a cash bar only.
    Two in five planners (41 percent) said they have offered a taxi or other transportation to an attendee who seemed unable to drive, while comparatively few respondents reported they have ever removed an attendee from an event due to behavior related to excessive drinking (16 percent). Similarly, only 17 percent said they have had to cut off an attendee from bar service, although 24 percent were unsure whether this had occurred at their events.
    A few planners reported having taken the drastic measure of asking a hotel to remove all alcohol from attendees’ minibars (4 percent). The same small percentage have had to deal with legal issues that arose related to alcohol consumption.chart
    Interestingly, about a quarter of the meeting planners surveyed (24 percent) believe attendees drink too much at meetings.

By Art Pfenning, director, M&C Research;