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A Meeting Planner’s Guide to Catered Events

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1 A Meeting Planner’s Guide to Catered Events
Chapter Ten Contracts and Negotiations

2 Caterers typically require meeting planners to sign formal catering contracts before events are scheduled to take place. Sometimes a caterer will forgo the use of formal contracts and instead rely on signed banquet event orders (BEOs) or signed letters of agreement. These documents may be every bit as legally enforceable as formal contracts; however, they do not use the typical boilerplate legalese

3 More caterers are using letters of agreement as opposed to contracts.
They serve the same purpose. Signing an agreement is less threatening to most people than signing a contract. The word “agreement” is friendlier, not quite as cold.

4 Never book and confirm a catered event without a signed agreement.
Usually an unwritten contract cannot be legally enforced in a court of law unless you are dealing with an agreement worth $500 or less. Even with small parties, it is good business practice to detail in writing both your and the caterer’s responsibilities and obligations.

5 Banquet Event Order The banquet event order (BEO), also called the function sheet, is the basis of the property's internal communication system between departments. It is the basic building block upon which the caterer's accounting and record-keeping systems are constructed. A BEO is prepared for each meal and beverage function, and copies are sent to the departments that will be directly or indirectly involved with the events.

6 BEO Usually all departments receive a copy of each BEO a week or more before the catered function is held. This ensures that all department heads have enough time to schedule and complete the activities that support the events.

7 The typical BEO contains:
BEO number Function day(s) and date(s) Type of function Client name with signature line Client address Client contact person, or person in charge Person who booked the event and authorized signature(s) Name of function room

8 BEO Contents (con’t) Beginning time of function
Expected ending time of function Number of attendees expected Number of attendees to prepare for Menus Style of service Function room setup

9 BEO Contents (con’t) Reference to other BEOs or other relevant records
Date BEO was completed Signature of person preparing (or approving) the BEO List of departments receiving a copy of the BEO

10 BEO Contents (con’t) Special instructions (such as centerpieces, set-by times, parking details, miscellaneous labor charges, sleeping-room blocks, napery, tablescapes, bar arrangements, props, entertainment, electrical/engineering needs, unique underliners, VIPs, and other special amenities) Prices charged Master billing account number Billing instructions

11 Resume A resume (also called a convention resume or meeting resume) is a summary of function room uses for a particular convention or meeting. Normally it is used whenever a meeting planner books two or more catered events to be held consecutively. The resume usually includes all BEOs.

12 Resume The resume may more appropriately be referred to as the function room resume as this report details function room use for a particular client. It focuses on the major highlights while deferring to the pertinent BEOs for specific details.

13 Resume If you book a one-week convention, and there are 15 meal, beverage, and business-meeting functions, the resume will highlight each function, when the function rooms will be booked, and when they will be dark.

14 Resumes Include: Function day(s) and date(s) Types of functions
Client name Client contact information (address, address, and cell phone number) Client contact person, or person in charge Person who booked the events along with authorized signature(s)

15 Resumes Include: (con’t)
Beginning times of functions Expected ending times of functions Number of attendees expected Furniture and equipment needs Function room names Room setups Special instructions

16 Resumes Include: (con’t)
Date resume was completed Signature of person preparing (or approving) the resume List of departments receiving a copy of the resume

17 Resumes Include: (con’t)
Room charges Labor charges Equipment charges Master billing account number Billing instructions Reference to other relevant records

18 Contract Contract date Function day(s) and dates Function time(s)
Appropriate client and facility signatures Function room(s) tentatively assigned Menus Style(s) of service Function room setup(s)

19 Contract Other client service(s) Deposit(s) Breakage
Head-count guarantee(s) Overset Attrition Refunds, returns, and allowances Outside food and beverage

20 Contract Taxes Gratuities Tips Service charge(s) Cancellation penalty
Room setup charge(s) Room rental rate(s) Setup service charge(s)

21 Contract Display restriction(s) Responsibility for loss and/or damage
Underage or visibly intoxicated guests Indemnification Security License(s) and permit(s) Price quotation(s) Uncontrollable acts

22 Contract Substitutions Change order(s) Service ratios
Other extra charge(s) Billing procedures Collection procedures

23 Guarantee You will have to provide a head-count guarantee and/or dollar amount guarantee. At the time specified by the agreement, the meeting planner must finalize the count of attendees. A guarantee deposit is normally paid at this time.

24 Guarantee A guarantee provides the information that will drive food production, staffing, and sales revenue. With a guarantee, the caterer is assured of receiving payment based on either the guarantee or the number of attendees served (whichever is larger). Without a guarantee, the caterer doesn’t know how much food and beverage to order and how much labor to call in.

25 Guarantee Guarantees are generally required 48 hours in advance of the event. Sometimes a 72-hour advance notice is required if the event is held over a weekend or in a location that doesn’t receive daily deliveries. Sometimes a caterer will take a minimum guarantee 48 hours in advance, and the meeting planner can add to that number up until 24 hours prior to the event.

26 Guarantee Caterers must charge for the guaranteed number of attendees regardless of how many attendees show up. They still have labor, food, and beverage costs, but no compensation for them if the number falls below the guaranteed count and they did not charge for the guaranteed number.

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