Food and Beverage Purchasing

Meeting Services (1)As a self-proclaimed “Foodie” I feel very fortunate to be able to plan meals (amongst many other logistical details) for a living!  Food and beverage often is the second-largest item in a meeting’s budget, but you don’t have to break the bank to provide a memorable F&B experience.

When starting to plan F&B functions for your meetings, events, incentive trips and product launches, it is important to start building relationships with the key vendor partners from the get-go, with your Convention Services Manager and Executive Chef.  Talk to the chef directly regarding details of your specific group and what you are looking to do.  Discuss the potential of local items , availability based upon season, their recommendations and the items that will be more economical based upon the date of your event.  Additionally, we take this a step further and ask the Chef:  “What is something creative that you have always wanted to do?”.  Aside from the obvious, this also helps engage the culinary team and allows them to do something new a different.

Think strategically to determine which purchasing methods work best for your group, without sacrificing quality (or quantity).  There are many purchasing methods to consider:

  • Per Person:  Generally works well for small groups under 100 people, but please note that each menus is still negotiable.  Talk with the Chef to see what he/she feels you can cut out of each meal, without the attendee suffering.  You can also talk portion sizes with the Chef and request smaller portions of each item to reduce the cost.
  • Ala Carte:  For larger groups, consider purchasing each item on an ala carte basis.   When you purchase a menu on a per person basis, the price is generally based upon every person taking every item, which in reality is not the case.
  • Carving Stations:  When purchasing ‘carving station’ items, it is not necessary to purchase for every person.  We generally cut our attendee numbers in ½ or more to determine the number of items to purchase as each carving station.
  • Action Stations:  When purchasing ‘action station’ items, it also is not necessary to purchase for every person.  We generally cut our attendee numbers down by a 1/3 to determine quantity.
  • Bulk:  For larger groups – consider purchasing bulk vs. per person packages – compare pricing to see the best way to go for your group.
  • On Consumption:  Purchase on consumption when possible (Prepackaged items, canned beverages, coffee, alcohol, etc.)
  • Mixture of Above:  We often mix per person with consumption to get the biggest bang for our client’s buck.

It’s all about creativity and knowing your groups history.  As you move forward with future years for the same group, be sure to reference last year’s notes and final bill to make changes that will benefit your client’s bottom line.   You will be sure to exceed your client’s expectations each and every year by making improvements on the previous year’s decisions.

Happy Purchasing!

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