Meeting Planners Cheat Sheet: Beverages

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Here’s the first in a series of four quick tip sheets for meeting and event professionals regarding food and beverage, and meeting room setups. It’s also a great referral sheet for those appointed to handle meeting logistics for their company’s meetings and need some insight.

Morning Beverages

Amount to serve:

  • 1 gallon regular coffee per 30 attendees
  • 1 gallon decaf coffee per 75 attendees
  • 1 gallon hot water (for tea) per 100 attendees
  • Provide soft drinks and bottled water for 25% of the group

Tips:

  • 1 gallon fills 21 6-oz cups
  • 1 gallon fills 16 8-oz cups
  • 1 gallon fills 10 12-oz cups
  • Some hotels will let you order half-gallons
  • Order bottled water and soft drinks on consumption instead. If you do, be sure to conduct an opening and closing inventory.

Beverages For Breaks

Amount to serve:

  • 1 gallon regular coffee per 50 attendees
  • 1 gallon decaf coffee per 50 attendees
  • 1 gallon hot water (for tea) per 100 attendees
  • Provide soft drinks and bottled water for 70% of the group

Tips:

  • Order bottled water and soft drinks by consumption

 Evening Banquet Beverages

Amount to serve:

  • 1 gallon regular coffee per 30 attendees
  • 1 gallon decaf coffee per 30 attendees
  • 1-2.5 alcoholic drinks per person, per hour at an open bar

Tips:

  • 25 1-oz drinks in a 750 mL bottle
  • 33 1-oz drinks in a 1 L bottle
  • 4-5 glasses of wine per 750 mL bottle
  • Size of drinks can vary greatly among bartenders
  • Ask bartenders to use a pouring-control system to contain costs
  • Conduct an opening and closing inventory to confirm proper amount charged.

Staffing

Service ratios:

  • 1 bartender per 75-100 attendees
  • 1 cocktail server per 50 attendees

Your mileage for beverages may vary based on length of breaks, outside temperature and male-female mix.

Are you using any other formulas or best practices to hydrate your attendees? How are you stretching that expensive gallon of coffee?

Comments

    • Jeff Hurt says

      @Adrian
      Thanks for adding to the discussion. The dilemma of bottled water versus water on the tables in pitchers to large water stations is challenging. Everyone, including attendees, have their own opinons about it. Thanks for the link too.

  1. Pat Goodberry-Dyck says

    Something we have found particularly helpful the last 2 years is “all-day” beverage service. It cuts down on guessing, ordering too much or too little, and helps you plan your budget. This year we are taking it a step further in that it includes food breaks as well (including breakfast). When you do the math, it can sometimes work out to be less money, and with a lot less hassle.

    • Jeff Hurt says

      @Pat
      Thanks for reading and adding your thoughts about an all-day beverage service. That’s defnitely worth exploring.

  2. says

    Jeff, great info that can have so much value to planners. I wonder how many of us who run events take the time to inventory and keep excellent history that can be referenced when planning that next event.
    You might want to add there are 27 1.25 oz pours to a liter of liquor. I haven’t seen a 750ML except maybe a cordial in a while and most brand hotels use 1.25 as their standard pour.

  3. Elain T. Vance says

    Beverage and Food Great Cheat Sheet Information and it is really very helpful!

    I would love to see a cheat sheet on selecting a venue for your event. Is there one out there it would be most helpful as well.

    Thanks Again.

  4. Ellen says

    The Atlanta hotel I recently used charged me for 10 gallons of coffee/decaf/tea for my meeting of 26 people ($650.00). Is it just me, or does this seem high to anyone else?

    • Jeff Hurt says

      Ellen:
      Did you sign off on a BEO for 10 gallons of coffee/decaf/tea? If not, you can dispute the charge. I’ve seen both higher and lower than $65 per gallon.

  5. Ellen says

    The BEO gives cost per gallon, but I just can’t see how 26 people consumed 10 gallons of anything – even a combination of coffe/decaf/tea bags. I’m thinking it’s an easy way for a hotel to pad the bill because there is no way to keep track of consumption. I was not at this particular meeting but talk about “lessons learned”!

    • Jeff Hurt says

      I’ve typically listed on the BEO the exact number of gallons that the hotel is to supply. If I put on consumption, I put a note that refills must get my approval. Even when I didn’t do that, the banquet manager or her representative always brings me final tally to sign off on before it goes to billing. In this case I would have challenged the consumption then and there and probably got it removed. If your organization meeting planner did not approve this, it can still be disputed and removed from the bill.

      • says

        Ellen, I agree with Jeff. If you haven’t paid this, you can still dispute. A good compromise would be to cut the bill in half. 5 gallons is still a consumption of 3 – 4 drinks per person. That’s erring on the high side of what actual consumption was for a morning coffee service…even a continuous one that’s serving semi-truck drivers.

  6. says

    I would have challenged the consumption then and there and probably got it removed. If your organization meeting planner did not approve this, it can still be disputed and removed from the bill.

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