10 Unconventional Ways to Cut F&B Costs

F&B, meetings
A management consultant shares ideas on cutting F&B costs.

To avoid waste and control costs when it comes to F&B, think outside the box. We looked outside the industry to Donald Cooper, an international management consultant, coach and speaker, for suggestions. You’ll find dozens of other unconventional meeting cost-cutting tips on his web site.

  1. For small meetings of less than a 15 people, consider having lunch in the hotel restaurant rather than providing a fully catered meal.

2. Purchase water bottles for attendees, complete with the logo of a sponsor, and ask the venue to have plenty of cold water on hand so delegates can grab refills on the go. This saves on soft drink and juice costs, and delegates get to return home with their own personal water bottles.

3. Shorten the time of your receptions by 15 minutes and don’t announce last call.

4. If you are serving liquor, have the venue serve drinks with one ounce of liquor by requiring bartenders to use jiggers or bottle attachments that pour out an ounce at a time.

5. When booking F&B for a group’s afternoon break, be sure to ask for “pop on consumption.” You only want to be charged for what is consumed. And if there is a dessert item at the lunch that is untouched, bring it out for the afternoon break.

6. In large convention centers, setting up a refreshment area in a foyer or hallway leaves you vulnerable to the “help-yourself” syndrome. Chances are that your snacks will attract attendees cruising by from other meetings.

7. With Continental breakfast, order less than your expected attendance. Some attendees are bound to eat at home or in their hotel room before coming to the event.

8. When hosting an event in a specific region where wine is produced, feature wines from that area. Not only is this thematically appropriate, it can produce real savings, especially if you deal directly with the wineries.

9. If there is an error in the meeting room setup, try to get the venue manager to provide more coffee or a reduction in the cost of your coffee as a make-good.

10. Often, only 65 to 70 per cent of the group attends the final banquet. Provide the hotel with rough numbers three days in advance, then refine that number the day of the final dinner. One way to know how many will show up for that final banquet is to issue banquet tickets at registration and then ask people to confirm table seating during the conference. This gives them an opportunity to choose tablemates and confirms who and how many will attend.

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Barbara Scofidio is editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In 25 years of covering the industry, her articles have spanned topics ranging from social media to strategic meetings management. She is currently the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee and was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of Site, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. A familiar face at industry events, Barbara often leads panel discussions or speaks on topics close to her heart, such as green meetings or how the industry can help combat human trafficking. She is also on the board of ECPAT USA, the human trafficking organization. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.