By Jack Carter, Untangled
When clients are cutting budgets, it’s often F&B that gets the chop first. However, there are ways event planners can offer a show-stopping dining experience for their delegates without having to scrimp on quality.
Natalie Ackerman, EVP Greater China at Jack Morton, said the best way to stretch an F&B budget is to work closely with the venue’s in-house catering team. She said being open about any financial restrictions early on in the planning process can allow agency and supplier to work together to find a creative solution. “Start with asking these questions and understand all the F&B options ahead of time: What are your attendees’ expectations? Is buffet service appropriate, or are plated meals desired? Are there other groups in the hotel with whom we can combine meal service?” Ackerman also suggested monitoring and reviewing attendance at meal times, like breakfast (which tends to be the least attended meal of the day if mandatory attendance isn’t required). If this is the case, try
guaranteeing it at only 80 percent to 85 percent of delegates.
More with Less
Producing a dining experience that is both new and innovative while costing the same, or even less, than previous years is pressure that many seasoned event planners are used to. This can be even more challenging if the event is taking place within the same venue or even with the same catering team. “Our solution,” Ackerman said, “is to work closely with the venue to curate a menu that is more focused on the variety of foods. More importantly, we use our creative talents to completely redesign and refresh the environment, showcasing and presenting the food in a completely different way. This includes intriguing shelving, great lighting, and thoughtful presentation, which can have a huge effect on the attendees’ food and beverage journey.”
Innovation can also be found in Fair Trade initiatives that, as well as being a pleasing bonus for attendees, needn’t break the bank. “You can approach this using a method we like to call FLOSS – Fair, Local, Organic, Seasonal, and Sustainable,” said Maria Kriva, content and marketing coordinator at MCI. “Food that achieves the FLOSS criteria touches all aspects of sustainability: the social aspect, by making sure the food was produced in the right labour condition; the environmental aspect, by minimising transportation and pesticides and is fresh; and the economic aspect, by developing a flexitarian menu that isn’t meat heavy and thus cutting costs down.”
Check out these additional food and beverage tips for event planners.