Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Receptions Q&A: “I want to have a reception during my conference. How much food do I need to serve?”

This is a tough one to answer concretely since much of the answer depends on knowing the group of people who will be attending. Fortunately, there are some guidelines that we use to give us a ballpark estimate of how many hors d’oeuvres need to be served at a reception.

Let’s assume that your reception will be going on for one hour and that you are serving dinner afterwards. A range of five to seven pieces* per person is considered moderate consumption, so a reception for 100 people would need 500-700 pieces. Write that range down! 5-7 pieces/person. This is where you begin.

If you are doing a reception/dinner combination, then you could simply stop there. However, many receptions do not fit that model completely, so let’s look at two other factors that we need to also take into account.

Length of reception: For any reception under two hours, we do not need to make any adjustment based on this factor. So what about receptions longer than two hours? My rule of thumb is to increase the amount of food served by 50% for each additional hour, to a maximum of +100%. So, if our reception for 100 people was scheduled to be three hours long, I would need to order 750-1,050 pieces.

Dinner not provided: If you are not providing dinner following a reception, many attendees will make it their dinner! This means that you need to plan for more food. I usually increase my order by 50% when dinner is not provided, which means 7-11 pieces per person.

Once you have taken these two factors into account, you still are left with a range and not a single number. This is where you adjust for the specifics of your group. A group that wants a heavier reception would be at the top end of the range (if not beyond it!), while a group of light eaters would be at the lower end of the range.

This is just a quick overview of food ordering for receptions. In future installments, we’ll look at tips and tricks for getting the most out of your reception budget.

- Karl Baur, CMP, Project Director

* A “piece” is usually defined as a single item, often bite-sized, that a guest would take to eat. So, if you order five dozen eggrolls, each eggroll is considered to be a piece and you would have sixty “pieces” in your order.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Meetings are still relevant!

I’ve just returned from an educational conference and tradeshow put on by the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) called Affordable Meetings. It was held June 10-11 at the convention center in San Jose and was attended by approximately 450-500 meeting planners from many different organizations of every type and size, including associations, corporations, government, military, religious, incentives, social, ethnic, special events, sports and educational groups.

Exhibitors at the tradeshow (200 of them!) included hotels, university conference centers, unique meeting sites, convention and visitor bureaus, transportation companies, software companies, audiovisual companies, destination management companies and other meeting and convention suppliers.

In the seminars and on the tradeshow floor there was the expected talk of business slowdown from both the planners and suppliers, however most everybody was upbeat and hopeful about continuing to do business together, which means – having meetings and conferences!

For another take on the importance of meetings, check out this video from CBS News by Ben Stein.

Staying current is critical in these rapidly changing times, knowing the latest in legislative mandates and travel restrictions is so important when considering holding a conference or meeting. By networking with peers and attending educational conferences such as HSMAI, meeting planners can be equipped with the information necessary to coordinate successful and cost-effective events.

I definitely learned some new tools and tricks that I will be sharing with you in the weeks ahead to make your Food & Beverage budget go a little farther, how to think clearly under pressure, and more!

- Ginger Myrick, Meeting Planner

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Everyone is for it, everyone professes to do it, everyone agrees it is vital to business.

But what is it really? Is it sharing information? Is it being pro-active in office manners? Is it treating colleagues with respect? Is it being truly fair?

Yes, all of this and more.

It is more than just a word to be bandied about. It is about morale.

Teamwork is self-explanatory. It means helping your co-workers, sometimes before they ask for help. It means deep listening; understanding them, getting vested and caring. It means respecting your co-workers. It also means understanding various ideas around a subject and being mature enough to not take rejection personally.

Each individual is a unique being, yet all are brought together into a specific environment to work: to pull in the same direction, to give up personal conceit for the common good.

Teamwork means treating all employees with equal dignity and attention.

Teamwork means follow-through: it means being dependable.

Too easy it is for all good will to be swept aside in the jumble of the day. Do unto others, not as has already been done to you, but how you would be done to in a perfect world.

Talk to your colleagues. It shows you care.

Look at yourself with fresh eyes.

Here is the link to a wonderful article that gives 8 steps to building teamwork in the office.

- Alex Zabelin, Meeting Planner

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Leading by Example: Recycling in the Workplace

It is sometimes uncomfortable to constantly be telling people to recycle their paper, cans, and plastics. You may come across sounding as preachy. There are ways to introduce changes in the workplace without irritating your co-workers. Lead by example. Create a recycle center in your office. Label containers for paper, plastic, and aluminum. Mention to staff members that you put them in a specific location, and ask them if they would mind using them. Then, make sure you use them, especially when your co-workers are in that area. If they see you using them, they will follow your example.

As the cans, and plastic fill up, take them to the recycle center, cash them in for $$. Once you have collected a fair amount of $$, use that money to bring in treats for the staff, mentioning that you bought the treats from the recycle dollars.

This takes very little effort, but has an effect on the environment, as well as promotes a fun work atmosphere.

- Kelsi Brewer, Meeting Planner

Editor's Note: Kelsi's point about "leading by example" can also be extended to events of every kind. While it is great to talk to folks about reducing, reusing, and recycling materials, it can be so much more powerful to simply do those things. When others see that good things come from your actions, they can be inspired to follow suit. The meetings industry generates a lot of waste. Think about all of the handouts, give away items, and other disposable goods (plates, cups, etc.) that you see at a typical event which end up in the trash and consider how we, as planners, can reduce or eliminate the environmental impact of the events we produce. It can be as simple as following someone's example...

- Karl Baur, CMP