Save Money on Food and Beverage Costs for your Meeting

Four Points by Sheraton Roma West Hotel—Meeting FacilitiesFood and beverage is an important element to a successful meeting. Knowing how to save money on the costs for these items will allow you to keep your budget secure. The following is a checklist to consider when saving money on your food and beverage needs.


Before you begin placing your orders for food and beverage there are a few basics that you should understand. These ideas will help you to get the most out of the budget that you have set for F&B.

Crunch the Numbers
Create a spreadsheet for your data including; prices, products and companies that you are purchasing from. It is always better to buy in bulk, by the dozen or a la carte. Having a spreadsheet of all of this information will help you to be able to see what you are spending and to project how much of your budget will be used toward food and beverage purchases.

Deal with Chiefs Directly
The best way to get the best deals is to work directly with the chiefs. Give them the details of the menu you desire and the budget you would like them to work within. Challenge them to create a top notch assortment and menu that will fit within the confines of your budget.

Be Tight with your Guarantees
Be very tight with your guarantees. Keep track of your data, make reasonable estimates and watch your delegates work and patterns closely. If you are over billed on your guarantee, speak with the hotel and they will typically refund your money immediately. Keep the following guidelines in mind when you are approaching a guarantee:

  • Keep in mind your function description. Ask yourself how many of your attendees will be from out of town and how many will be local.
  • Include menu options and other F&B information in the registration. This will give you a bigger picture of how many people will be attending and how much to purchase.
  • It is important to never base your guarantee on the number of tickets sold. Instead, guarantee the exact number that RSVP. Typically around 2 to 5 percent will not show up.
  • If you are having a reception, count 8 to 12 pieces per person. Increase this number to 15 to 20 pieces if you are presenting a meal.
  • Purchase your coffee in bulk and your tea by the gallon where possible. You will save money because you will not be paying per unit.
  • When you are ordering the food, order reduced portions. If you lower the amount of food that you are ordering per portion, you will save money on the entire bill for the food purchase.
  • Consider working with multi-function events. Most hotels can help you to save money on networking functions so if you work together with the hotel in this arena you will reduce the costs for the food and beverages that you are purchasing for your event.
  • Order your food by consumption. This will guarantee that any food that is not eaten does not have to be paid for. This will save you money on your entire order.


When you are considering your food and beverage needs, break down the event by meals. Look at the breakfast, lunch and dinner separately to determine your needs and where you will need to spend the most money, as well as where you can save money in your budget.

Look at where you can save money and what types of things must be added to your budget for the first meal of your event. There are several things that you can do with your breakfast costs to save money.

Instead of serving hot breakfasts to your attendees, consider a continental breakfast with cereals, Danishes and fresh fruit. You will be able to buy more food with less strain on your budget.

Save on portions by cutting doughnuts and other pastries in half. You will find that there are some people that will attend the event that will not want to eat the whole portion.

At some events, lunch and dinner are considered to be the biggest meals. You can save money on these two meals as well with some of the following tips;

One way to save money is to have a sit-down meal rather than a buffet. You will spend less on the labor costs to prepare the meal if you have a sit-down affair.

Skip the desserts at the end of the meal. You can save money by serving a dessert one time when you are taking a break rather than a few times during the day with meals.

To save money on serving meals and increase socialization, hand out boxed lunches instead of holding a sit-down meal. You may also want to consider ordering pizza or buying a party platter of submarine sandwiches.

It is also important to look at the money that you will be spending on serving beverages at your meeting. Make a determination as to which is better; by the person, by the beverage or by the container pricing. This will make a difference when you are setting your guarantee.

You will need to know details such as; if a jug of juice is opened to pour one drink, will you be charged for it. Knowing all of the small details about which way to pay for your beverages will save you money in the end.

When you are trying to save money on the F&B that will be served at your meeting, look at all of the factors that are involved, the price, the product and the guarantee. When you are making your selections, crunch the numbers and record everything. Paying attention to the little things will pay off in the end when you are purchasing food and beverage.

What should you do next?

Since you are planning a meeting, learn the golden rules of negotiating with a hotel for a room block. You’re guaranteed to save money!

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