Folks, this is probably one of my most important morsels to-date, so I encourage every one of you to learn from what I have to tell you.
When you are doing site selections, be sure to ask for copies of the menus. Why? Because planners tend to miss a lot of negotiating opportunities when they are focusing on the rooms portion of their contracts. Include culinary in the contracting big picture.
Sure, you may have gotten a 10 percent discount, bartender fees comp-ed or a couple of chef/attendant charges for free. But because the economy is down, there are many additional charges being added to banqueting menus.
The only way to protect against these fees is to pour over the property’s current menus before you sign on the dotted line. That way, you know you are negotiating absolutely everything you need before you get locked in to a contract. Missing the chance to educating yourself on the properties banquet fees early on and throw them out if necessary can cause large budget problems later on.
Here’s an example of a typical F&B bomb. At one hotel in Arizona, an average buffet lunch is $56 per person, inclusive. But, if the buffet is open for more than 60 minutes, or you have less than 40 people, you will be charged up to an additional $10++ per person. You as a buyer would have no way of knowing in advance unless you would have reviewed the menus at the time of contract negotiation. So make sure you do due diligence and sniff out these fees before they blow up in your face and blow out your budget.