Crafting the Perfect Banquet Event Order

This key document is the planners' on-site playbook

• Hotels can place service fees and taxes on almost anything listed on a BEO. Always ask if negotiated pricing includes such charges.

• An optional payment designated as a gratuity generally is not subject to tax. A mandatory payment such as a published service charge, gratuity or tip is subject to tax.

• To avoid double payment or inadvertent nonpayment of tips, ask your hotel for its gratuity distribution policy.

The banquet event order is the most important document used on-site during a meeting or event; it is your program map, the form that enumerates all the elements of the event in intricate detail.

The BEO is the playbook that directs the performance of the banquet team and everyone else concerned with the execution of the program, whether involved in planning, accounting, the front desk, housekeeping, A/V, restaurants or even parking.

First Steps Development of a precise BEO can commence as early as the negotiation phase of the overall program.

Ask for a copy of the meeting and banquet policies for your preferred hotel or venue during contract negotiations. A quick review of this document might reveal items that could impact your program, e.g., bar and entertainment end times, menu price changes close to program dates, staff-to-guest ratios, liability terminology, and preferred vendor and security requirements.

International hotels, in particular, might have terms and conditions in the fine print on the back of their BEO documents. Read these carefully for meeting and banquet policies that might contradict negotiated clauses and concessions in your overall hotel contract.

Dealing with potential issues up front helps in the development of consistent and workable terms and conditions for your program, giving you time to focus on ensuring the accuracy of the logistical details contained in your BEOs in the days leading up to your program.

Team Effort Crafting the BEO is a collaborative effort between the planner and the hotel convention service manager or F&B manager. The CSM creates the BEO from information provided by the planner in the program specs.

No BEO is perfect, and all will require vigilant review and ongoing updates as program changes occur. Make sure that all meeting and event room diagrams are included, are to scale and have been approved by the local fire marshal.

A group résumé or letter of operation (LOO) is a supplemental document and provides additional information about your program for distribution to the hotel staff. It includes details not be covered in the BEO, such as master account guidelines, VIP and on-site contact information, and off-site events and activities.

The LOO and BEO pull together hours of conversations and hundreds if not thousands of e-mails between parties, capturing all the information necessary to provide clear direction to the hotel staff tasked with delivering the program.

Final Checks A wise planner never assumes anything. That said, do assume that if something is not accounted for in the BEO, it probably will not materialize.

Be sure to check, double-check and triple-check everything on the BEO, beginning with the date of the event; setup and tear-down times; estimated guarantees for attendance and meals; negotiated pricing; service schedules and show flows; specific wine and liquor selections; event name for reader boards, all the way down to parking arrangements for the entertainment.