Patti Shock answers additional questions from the 04.13.16 F&B Budget Tips webinar.

Q1: I prefer having the food passed around by servers in order to save on my catering budget. Do you have a budget saving alternative?

A1: That is a budget saving alternative. You can put the inexpensive food (cheese cubes, chips, dips, veggie trays, etc.) on a table, then tray pass the expensive items (shrimp) by sending the servers out in timed waves to control consumption.

Q2: What do can a planner do when we return to the same property year after year and the menu hasn't changed?

A2: Have a conversation with the caterer and express your concerns.  Ask to speak to the chef to come up with more creative ideas.

Q3: I'm more of a fan of stations than of a buffet line.  What are your thoughts?

A3: Food stations are great for stand-up receptions where people mill around.  For a seated meal, you would want a buffet because you don't want your guest to have to stand in multiple lines to fill their plate.

Q4: Do you have any tips on saving money with guarantees?

A4: Most guarantees are required 48 hours in advance of an event, unless you are in a location that only get weekly deliveries and may require a full week in advance. You can negotiate to give a guarantee 48  hours out, where they can add to, but not subtract from 24 hours in advance.

This allows you to include late ticket sales.

Q5: I struggle with how much food and how much variety to order for receptions. Is there a rule of thumb?

A5: Yes, my book, A Meeting Planner's Guide to Catered Events, includes all kinds of charts and graphs on how much to order depending on the number of attendees and also by demographics (for instance, a predominately male group will typically eat more than a mainly female group).

But, the best guide is your meeting history. A PowerPoint from a previous webinar, which is available to you, includes much of this info.

Q6: Doing an international conference we are not able to serve pork. Any thoughts on this one?

A6: Then, don't serve pork. You can serve chicken, beef, game or any other protein.

Q7: Can you speak to the difference of working with chefs in a hotel versus in a convention center where that service is typically outsourced?

A7: While convention center food service is contracted out, the exclusive contract food service company has a chef. For example, the LVCC has ARAMARK contracted for their food service.

And Aramark has a chef located on site.

Q8: For the Rubick’s Cube setup, can that be used for larger groups of 150+ attendees?

A8: Yes, and you can put multiple round setups throughout the room.

Q9: How can as signature drink reduce your overall bar tab if it’s an open bar?

A9: By using cheaper brands of liquor in the specialty drink. Also, if trays are passed, you can save on bar setup and bartender costs.

Q10: Can you do a combination of service in one dinner event, e.g. family style, preset or hand service? How can you ensure that each person gets their meals at the same time if plated?

A10:  You can use several service styles during a meal.  You can start out with butlered hors d'oeuvres, family-style salad, French service for the main course and a dessert buffet.

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