Top Ten Tips for Planning a Hotel Banquet
There are a lot of different uses for the banquet hall in a hotel. It can be used for a wedding reception, awards banquet, ball or any other of a number of celebrations. Regardless of the type of event being held, there are some things every hotel banquet manager ought to keep in mind while planning the event.
- Start planning well in advance. Planning for specific events can begin several months to a year in advance. It's a common rule that planning for a wedding should begin a year in advance. The earlier the planning begins the better, because any bumps in the road or problems can be worked out ahead of time.
- Get an accurate guest count. The guest count determines not only the number of seats and tables but how much food to prepare, too. The sooner the client can provide a guest count the sooner the hotel staff can determine meal portion sizes.
- Stay within budget. Whether the hotel charges a flat rate or gives estimates for a particular banquet, the last thing the client wants to see is a price that is above the estimated or agreed-upon amount. If the client wants something that is outside of the original price range, be sure to tell him or her ahead of time how much more the additions will cost. It helps to put it all in writing and have the client sign to approve any additional costs. This way you have written documentation throughout the entire process.
- Have a banquet agenda. Whether it is an awards banquet or a wedding reception, most banquets have a series of activities to get through (like the meal, cake-cutting and bouquet toss), and since the banquet hall is only rented for a certain amount of time, it is important that the event coordinator and Maitre 'D for the event work together to come up with an agenda and stick to that schedule so everything is accomplished.
- Do not skimp on decor. Nobody wants a barren banquet hall. Table coverings and wall hangings are the easiest way to spice up the banquet hall. However, some clients may decide to come in and decorate the hall themselves, which is a plus because it frees up hotel staff.
- Do not be afraid to rent. If there is some piece of decor or multimedia equipment that the client wants but the hotel does not have on hand, go out and rent it. The local party supply stores should be willing to cut hotels a deal on the rental fees in exchange for repeat business. Just make sure any rentals do not exceed the budget for the event.
- Have different menus for different events. Different types of banquets call for different types of food and services. It will make planning a lot easier for both the client and the hotel if you put together an itemized price list/menu of the different food and services the hotel can provide for each type of event.
- Leave enough space between tables. Room setup is a critical piece when it comes to guest comfort. There needs to be enough space so guests can move about freely, but too much space, and guests will feel isolated and the banquet hall will appear too large. If the banquet hall is too large, putting up divider screens is a good way to condense the available space.
- Provide adequate privacy. Having another hotel guest or random person wander in to a private banquet can ruin the evening. Since most banquet halls/rooms have doors, this shouldn't be a problem for most hotels. However, it will also help if there is a member of the hotel staff at the door acting as an ad hoc guard to keep uninvited guests out. Just be sure they have a guest list, so invited guests can still get in.
- Make sure there is enough parking. If there is not enough parking available, guests may get discouraged and return home, leaving the banquet hall partially empty and the kitchen with too much food. If the hotel's main parking lot does not have enough space, be sure to direct guests to nearby streets or garage parking. Providing valet parking for large banquets and shuttle services for off-site parking are more ways to alleviate guests' parking worries.
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