To a catering manager, culinary team or banqueting department, that is a four-letter word. Especially when we, as planners, make ccxhhhaaannngggeesss every five minutes.
Last year I hosted a panel of banquet and catering managers who spoke candidly to meeting planners about what puts “a bee in their bonnet.” Unfortunately for those planners, once this can of worms was open, the panel let loose with a string of sentences that began “And another thing.” By session’s end, many planners were slunk so low in their chairs it was clear they were among the guilty.
So let’s take this from the top and walk through the anatomy of a BEO change.
As many of you know, once a menu is agreed upon it goes to a “BEO” or a banqueting event order.
That BEO is distributed to:
• The kitchen
• Banquet department
• Banquet captains
• Purchasing department
• Setup department for the housemen
• The catering manager
• Audiovisual (if AV is involved)
• Convention services (if this hotel has a separate convention services department)
• The beverage manager (if alcohol is involved)
This doesn’t even count the labor involved to copy and distribute all this paperwork.
After the paperwork is distributed — one page per BEO, the entire team convenes daily to review all pending banqueting event orders. And just when you think it’s safe to go back in the water, the changes start.
When any change occurs, the original BEO gets stamped with the word “change” and re-distributed to all those departments detailed above. This happens for something as small as increasing coffee from one gallon to two. You have to hope that every department gets the change orders and replaces their old sheets with the new ones.
Then you decide that one gallon of coffee is enough, so you change it back. ANOTHER piece of paper goes out and so on and so on!!!
The point is that many times we throw our catering orders together thinking we’ll get something to the facility just to get them something, and will deal with it later once you see the BEOs. That’s not fair or good enough. We’re professionals — not that you aren’t — but the panel’s point was to ask planners to please give BEOs thought before submitting them.
The last bit of advice comes from me: When stuck on quantities or what to order, go back and look at your group history and previous years’ billings. They will always give you guidance.
That’s my story for now, and I’m sticking to it.