Saving money on food and beverage functions takes a bit of creativity and strategy...or just follow what experienced planners have already figured out.

  1. Guests eat less during receptions if their attention is diverted by entertainment, music or dancing.

  2. If guests come directly to a cocktail reception following a meeting, consumption of hors d’oeuvres will be less than if they relax and come an hour later.

  3. Eliminate bar service and serve only butlered (waiter-passed) drinks to lower consumption.

  4. Instead of bottled water, provide pitchers or coolers.

  5. Instead of a closing luncheon, hand out hotel restaurant vouchers. Many attendees will not utilize it.

  6. To reduce consumption, shorten the cocktail reception by 15 minutes—or even 30.

  7. Order sandwiches for entertainers and crew instead of serving full banquet meals.

  8. Roll away the continental breakfast when it is time for the meeting to start. This saves money and encourages punctuality.

  9. Seek sponsors for receptions, meal functions or coffee breaks.

Arlene Sheff, CMP, is a strategic marketing consultant with over 30 years of experience in the meeting and event management industry.