Basic Catering Guide for Event Planners

Catering is the activity of providing food and beverage for events. Caterers, which are either independent vendors or individuals within a particular department of a facility, such as a hotel or restaurant.

Catering is provided at a full range of events, including business meetings, conferences, exhibitions, special events, weddings, and other social occasions. In addition to responsibilities for food and beverage, many caterers also handle event decor, A/V and other aspects of the program.

The catering manager will typically manage the staffing of servers, chefs and others.

For example, the event manager organized a fundraising special event at the local hotel, and the catering department handled all logistics associated with food, beverage, decor and entertainment for the program. Catering included a cocktail hour and a formal sit down meal.

Deciding on a Menu

​As an event planner, you’ll meet with the banquet or catering manager ahead of your event to discuss your needs. Knowing the basics of what you’ll need will save you time. For example, if you’re planning a business meeting that will carry over to lunch, you may order box lunches.

​When you’ve chosen the kind of service, you can work with the caterer to decide on what they’ll serve. Take into account both the expectations of your guests and your budget.

And openly talk about budget limitations with the caterer. They may have some ideas that will look elegant but are less expensive, such as using produce that is in-season.

Catering Lingo

Every industry has its jargon, so it’s important to understand industry terms before you’re meeting. Below are 42 common words and phrases you should know:

  1. A la Carte: A phrase meaning “according to the menu,” which refers to a variety of differently priced dishes
  2. A la mode: A phrase indicating that a dessert will come topped with ice cream
  3. Amuse-bouche:  Bite-sized hors d’oeuvre that is prepared according to the chef’s selection
  4. Apéritif: A before dinner, light alcoholic beverage that is used to stimulate appetite
  5. Back of House: The equivalent of “backstage.” Everything your guests do not (and should not) see
  6. BEO: A Banquet Event Order is a document that outlines the details of your event. It serves as a guideline for the hotel to execute and communicate logistics to all necessary hotel departments
  7. Bowl Food: Small bowls of food passed amongst your guests during a standing, casual reception
  8. Canapé: Bite sized appetizers
  9. Charger: Also known as the under plate, they’re larger decorative plates used to dress up the table and food is not served on them
  10. Corkage: A fee charged per bottle for opening and serving wine brought in by the client
  11. Crudité: Raw vegetable appetizers, sliced or whole, that are dipped
  12. Dry Hire: Hiring a venue, without any labor, assistance, furniture, or delivery included. Always check what “dry hire” includes
  1. Deposit: The amount required to pay in advance of your booking
  2. Digestif: An after dinner, stronger alcoholic beverage enjoyed as an aid to digestion
  3. Dueling Menus: Are split Entrees and often used to introduce more exotic menu items. For example, instead of having an eight-ounce steak, you can have a four-ounce steak and a four-ounce piece of fish (surf and turf).
  4. F&B: Short for “food and beverage”
  5. Family Style: A style of serving food in which diners help themselves from plates of food that have been put in the middle of the table
  6. Food Stations: A fun way of serving a variety of foods at a reception. For example, you might have a mashed potato station, a roast beef carving station, an oyster shucking station, or an ice cream sundae station

Catering Lingo

  1. Front of House: Like the stage of a theatre; everything you and your guests do see
  2. In-House: Everything that the caterer or venue already has. For example “we have an in-house audiovisual team”
  3. Intermezzo: an intermission in meal service just before the main course.
  4. Linens (aka Napery): The table covers and napkins
  5. Market Price or AQ (As Quoted): used in place of a set price on a menu item where the price shifts seasonally or where prices fluctuate greatly
  6. Mise en place: Literally means “putting in place” and refers to organizing and setting up all aspects of the event
  7. Placement: The correct way of displaying cutlery, glassware and stationery on the table
  8. Platters: Used to display and serve canapés to your guests. Can be extravagant or elegant, and should always allow for beautiful presentation
  9. Props: The term for everything that exists purely for aesthetics, with no purpose other than to make things look beautiful or convey a theme. For example, balloons and flowers
  10. Service: A term for the delivery of food and drinks to all of the guests
  11. Set Up: (aka “the in”) the time it takes to get all the equipment into a venue and set up for the event
  12. Shuck: The delicate process of opening an oyster shell
  13. Silencer: Padding used under the tablecloth to prevent noise from dishes, cups or and flatware from clattering. Its’ especially important when speakers are on stage during a meal
  14. Site Visit: A venue walk-through before booking the venue and before the event. It helps you determine the best space for your event, and the advantages and limitations of the venue. With a thorough site inspection, planning and production teams can avoid unexpected costs, last-minute changes to layouts, and mishaps during the event
  15. Snake Service:  A line of servers, typically one per guest) enters with plated food and circles each table, placing the plates in front of each guest at the same time
  16. Sommelier: A trained professional who specializes in wine and food matching
  17. Tasting: A pre-event meeting where the event planner and client tastes menu options before finalizing the meal plan with the catering manager or chef
  18. Whisper Call: An alternative to announcing, “Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats” over a microphone. Instead, the Maître De walks amongst the guests, asking them to move to their table/seats.

By Rob Hard

Scottsdale most visited city in the Southwest

Scottsdale most visited city in the Southwest; it’s one of the most dynamic cities on the planet. We have fabulous parks and museums and world-class dining, shopping, entertainment and hotels. We have everything you (and your guests!) could want—including a long list of special event venues.

The most dynamic cities on the planet

Corporate events are drawn to unique sites that offer both privacy and an occasion for maximum personalization. They do not want to tolerate the hotel guest lounging poolside in swim trunks a measly few yards away from the reception.

They also dread ineffective attempts to add a special spin to the usual boring décor. “The privacy factor is unquestionably a big draw—in a private hangar you can have the location all to yourself. It’s almost like home.” For guests who want every element to sing in perfect harmony, a private hangar makes that possible.

Whether it’s on a faraway island, a 5 Star Resort or a secluded desert villa, weddings at exclusive private hangars top the charts for couples tying the knot. We are made up of multiple venue options within the Scottsdale Arizona. Our exclusive access, in-house capabilities and extraordinary team make this venue experience like none other. We offer unique venues and options such as world class catering + dynamic furniture, decor and entertainment packages if needed.


How to Beat 3 of the Gnarliest Room Block Challenges

Today’s planner has to deal with housing poachers. They prey on exhibitors and attendees to get them to book in their block. Whether they actually have a block or not. And then there are the attendees who’d rather book their rooms through than your provider.

How to Beat 3 of the Gnarliest Room Block Challenges
How to Beat 3 of the Gnarliest Room Block Challenges

These are among the many threats to room blocks today. In fact, one study cited in a session on housing at the American Society of Association Executives’ 2016 Annual Meeting found that one out of every three attendees are booking their rooms outside the block. But planners, of course, want to keep those blocks to help them secure the meeting space they need. As well to protect their attendees’ experience while at the event.

In a wide-ranging discussion, Rose Horcher, vice president, client services, Choose Chicago, and Bill Martin, strategic sales executive, Experient—with Christine “Shimo” Shimasaki, Destination Marketing Association International mining the audience for suggestions with her roving mic—tackled some of the toughest challenges facing meeting room blocks today.

Bringing out-of-block bookers back into the fold. As Martin said, “If you let them get housing on their own, they’ll get used to doing it on their own.”

Some tactics:
Include an explanation on your event website and in every email communication you send to attendees of why it’s important to book within the block.

When your block is filled, use a company—Experient uses—to allow attendees to click through to another inventory to keep them from going off on their own.

If your meeting is small enough to make it practical, use your call center to contact everyone who registered.

If your meeting is too large to contact all the out-of-block bookers, at least reach out to your top exhibitors, who likely are taking up larger blocks of rooms.

Go through your history from last year to find out who booked outside the block and market to them differently this year, emphasizing the benefits of staying in the block.

Dealing with pirates and poachers. These block-busters are getting pretty sophisticated, with some going as far as setting up fake duplicates of your website on a very similar URL to pose as your official housing company.

Some tactics:
Have a cease-and-desist letter ready to send as soon as you catch the slightest whiff of piracy.

In addition to housing, provide a list of all your official vendors (AV, floral, etc.) to exhibitors and tell them to just say no if they’re approached by any vendor not on your list.

Let people know that they could end up getting to the hotel after a long trip and not having a room reservation if they book through a poacher. “That’ll get their attention,” said one audience member.

If you have corporate attendees, reach out to their travel managers, suggested another participant. Their corporate policy may prohibit reimbursement to any broker other than the official housing company.

Some tactics:
Include a clause for your organization to add rooms at your negotiated rate. Only until the hotel reaches a certain occupancy rate that is agreed upon ahead of time. This can help in situations where a hotel can get better rates at the time of the meeting.

Put a clause in your contract that allows you to audit your pickup to make sure all your attendees staying at the hotel are counted.

Include a room block review date in the contract so you can track how your pickup is pacing against expectations, and adjust accordingly.

Another handy clause is one that guarantees no group is offered a lower rate over your dates.

Make sure the hotel can’t double-dip. If it’s sold out over your meeting dates, you shouldn’t have to pay attrition for rooms.

Include a walk clause that specifies the maximum number of attendees the hotel can walk. “The hotel may not accept it, but at least you will know that it could be an issue if they don’t,” . The contract should include who cannot be walked (speakers, staff, VIPs). It’s important to be able to have veto power over who gets walked. As well to guarantee transportation to alternate hotel, must be of equal or greater value than the host hotel.

How to Beat 3 of the Gnarliest Room Block Challenges

Why DMOs Need Strategic Relationships with Airbnb

Why DMOs Need Strategic Relationships with Airbnb. As destination marketing organizations around the country come face-to-face with one of the biggest players in the collaborative economy airbnb. Destination Marketing Association International is gearing up to help members understand the issues. Recently we caught up with Jack Johnson, DMAI’s chief advocacy and board compliance officer, to ask about it. He’s one of the new team brought in by Don Welch, who stepped in as DMAI president and CEO in April after leaving his post as head of Choose Chicago.

First, a little background on you. You come to DMAI from Choose Chicago, where you served as chief administrative officer and senior vice president, public policy. What will your role be within DMAI, and how does it relate to Airbnb?
This is a newly created position within DMAI. Our members have asked for more focus on advocacy, public policy, and research. We’re here to help them navigate the new economy, including understanding players like Airbnb.

What is DMAI’s position on Airbnb?

Airbnb is a legitimate option for lodging, just like boutique hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, and campgrounds. Airbnb is a global business with a platform offering a different product mix. In many destinations, there are tax, regulation, and compliance issues that have to be worked out. Overall, the realization is that Airbnb is not going away— it’s something many travelers want.

Airbnb made a pitch at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Indianapolis later in June, touting that it now has agreements with 190 cities and states to collect and remit room taxes directly to government. The company claims that over the next decade it could provide at least $2 billion in tax revenue at the top 50 American cities. That’s a pretty strong pitch to cash-strapped cities.
In our experience with Choose Chicago, we found that Airbnb accounted for as many as 700,000 to 800,000 room nights on an annual basis. We also found Airbnb rentals fueling business outside the Loop , adding a whole new dynamic to the city. So yes, Airbnb is driving economic impact and visitation in many destinations, and they will remit increasing tax revenue as agreements are worked out in more and more cities. That’s why we think DMOs need to build a strategic relationship with Airbnb. It’s a vital driver for economic impact and visitor growth in many destinations.

How does Airbnb affect room blocks for groups?
DMAI released a study last year that showed one in in three group room nights is booked outside the contracted room block. While don’t have any data specific to Airbnb at this point, having this kind of lodging option certainly can mean more people booking outside the block. We have a long list of research and advocacy projects that we are considering in the next few months, especially around the effects of the sharing economy, and this is one topic that we will definitely be tackling.