Best Practices for Calculating Hotel Food & Beverage Minimums

As a planner, one of the most important parts of a program is not only the quality of the food, but staying within one’s food and beverage budget. To assist clients in staying within their means, hotels have developed suggested spend per person as a guide.

  • In most cases, food and beverage minimums are set on the client’s anticipated spend by calculating the number of attendees by the hotel's average banquet pricing. Depending on this number and the hotel's revenue requirements to contract function space, rental may be charged and/or a higher food and beverage minimum may be set to encourage additional spend from the group.
  • As a planner, the most important thing to remember when it comes to food and beverage minimums, is that the minimum does not mean the hotel will necessarily discount their menus to help you stay within this number. This number is only the amount the group needs to spend per contract, not always what the total cost will be based on the program's meal functions.
  • When comparing food and beverage minimums from different proposals, always compare the hotel’s banquet menus against one another. Ask for a food and beverage cost breakdown from the hotel so you can see the spend per person and/or meal function.
  • If a hotel is offering a “10% discount” off of food and beverage pricing, calculate this against their standard menu pricing to the competing hotels’ menu pricing to see the true value in this discount. In some cases, you may be surprised at how little the 10% discount really is when compared to other menus.
  • Don't be deceived by the food and beverage minimums set by hotels. In many cases, the minimums may range significantly from one hotel to the next. Always compare menu prices from one hotel to the next—as opposed to comparing just minimums—as this is the differentiating factor when it comes to your actual spend.

Following these best practices, alongside clear communication with the hotel regarding the needs of your group and the budget you have available, is the best way for staying on track with your overall spend. Feel free to share your own best practices in the comments below!

Submitted by: Caitlin Lyon
Associate Director of Sales
Hyatt Regency San Francisco

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