by Jonathan Vatner | March 15, 2010

Food-and-beverage planning, by its nature, involves some guesswork. Overestimate the number of attendees, and you'll pay too much for food. Underestimate it, and you'll have miffed attendees or the high cost of ordering more food on the spot. Get the best count by convincing attendees to register early. Some tactics: Offer a substantial early-bird discount, and increase the ticket price steeply for walk-ins. You also might offer to donate a percentage of early registration fees to a charity. And make sure attendees list dietary requests up front so the venue is prepared. The idea comes from Leonard Levey, CEO of the National Cost Reduction Corp., a group that helps businesses reduce their expenses.