October 01, 1998
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio October 1998 Current Issue
October 1998 ChecklistPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:



Planning a Banquet


  • Determine nature of the banquet. Is the function primarily business, an awards ceremony, product launch or a social fund-raiser?
  • If the event is to recognize sales staff, keep it appropriate to employee performance levels. A excellent profit margin may warrant a glitzy affair, but the same would be inappropriate for a mediocre sales performance.
  • Develop a formal seating chart that encourages mingling of guests at each table.
  • If the event will have a theme, keep it appropriate. For example, if the company is experiencing changes such as a merger or layoffs, the theme should be motivational.
  • Decide whether the theme will be incorporated into the design of invitations, promotional materials, giveaways or banquet room decorations.
  • If you intend to hire an event producer, be sure to include your contact in the planning details.
  • What is the expected attendance? Keep track of acceptances and regrets, and keep the catering department advised of numbers.

  • Find out if there is a room rental fee.
  • Ask about federal, state, and local tax charges.
  • Ask about gratuity service charges. Many properties routinely charge an 18 percent mandatory gratuity surcharge for food functions.
  • Ask if there are any miscellaneous charges. (For example: labor set-up fees, corkage, ice, etc.)
  • What is the overtime rate for staff?
  • Before agreeing to any published function prices, negotiate a discount based on the overall dollar value of your event Ñ particularly if there are sleeping and meeting rooms involved.
  • If contracting more than six months out, get in writing the percentage above current food and beverages price you will be charged.
  • Inquire whether decorating and floral arrangements are included in the room rental fee.
  • Will musicians, entertainment or a keynote speaker be required?

  • Determine your group's tastes. Are they willing to try various ethnic cuisines, or are they the traditional meat and potatoes crowd?
  • Discuss your budget with the caterer.
  • Provide menus from similar past functions. Point out what went over well with your group, and what did not.
  • If you plan on incorporating a theme, discuss it in detail. Certain foods, particularly chocolates, can be custom-designed.
  • Ask your caterer for suggestions on local dishes that best represent the banquet's location. For example, in Tucson, Ariz., quail breast medallions are a popular dish.
  • If at all possible, meet with the executive chef and ask for suggestions.
  • To avoid offending guests with special dietary or religious restrictions, ask for alternative entree suggestions. Typically a choice of a vegetarian or seafood dish should be offered.
  • Ask the chef what vegetables or fruits are in season locally, and incorporate them into your menu selection.
  • Decide if beverages, particularly alcohol, will be included or cash-bar service.
  • Confirm beverage pricing with caterer. In some cases, it might be cost effective to pay based on consumption rather than a per-person price.
  • Ask the caterer for consumption guidelines. Basic beverage guidelines are one drink per person, per hour; six to seven glasses of wine per liter bottle; 20 cocktails per liter of liquor.
  • Ask the caterer to suggest champagne and dinner wines that complement the menu and stay within your budget.
  • Once you have agreed to a menu, stick to it. Eleventh-hour menu changes may result in higher cost, even surcharges.
  • Give the cater a final headcount at least 48 hours in advance, and sign off on food and beverage details at least 10 days prior to event.
  • Notes:

    Back to Current Issue index
    M&C Home Page
    Current Issue | Events Calendar | Newsline | Incentive News | Meetings Market Report
    Editorial Libraries | CVB Links | Reader Survey | Hot Dates | Contact M&C