Banquet service, for some reason, is something where “average” is often considered top-tier level service. The pricing, however, is something that generally reflects fine dining, even for lunch and breakfast pricing. In many cases today, hotel food and beverage departments are not “earning” the prices they are getting already, so imagine how much more money there is to be made by actually delivering fine-dining service during every function.

Improving Overall Banquet Service

So, let me ask you this question…. If you go out to dinner and pay an average check of $100 per person, wouldn’t you expect to have your socks knocked off with not only the quality of the food, but also the level of service received? Then why are you satisfied with banquet service that is less than what would be received at a diner for a wedding where you are charging $120/head?

We have all been there. Food items being auctioned off at the table, pre-set salads and/or desserts, and guests have to leave their dinner plate getting cold on the table while they go refresh their own drink. Improving these small aspects of service to better reflect the service one would receive at a fine dining establishment will work wonders for the operation’s food and beverage reputation.

Add-ons to Drive Pricing

Using add-ons to a standardized menu will also help drive your sales. For instance, are you offering wine and/or champagne service for weddings and formal dinner service? If not, you are truly missing out on significant profits.

In most hotels today, food and beverage directors have tied themselves into a particular purveyor for most of their purchases in order to receive better pricing. In that pricing, there is no doubt a house wine and champagne available in the $5/bottle range, oftentimes less. Now, imagine offering wine service with dinner, where you can provide a three-ounce pour for $3 per guest, generally getting about eight pours to a bottle.

The key in adding service such as this is to limit when and how the wine or champagne is being served at the table. If you make it clear in the contract wine will be served during the entrée, or after the salad, you are limiting the window of service, which helps protect your profits.

Worst case scenario and everyone at every table has two glasses of wine, which is extremely unlikely, you are still making roughly $14 profit per table. Best case scenario, one glass per guest, you have a liquor cost right around 20 percent on wine for the function. Those profits can increase significantly by upselling from house to a premium label.

Banquets events offer so many areas for improvement and additional income, yet that money is often left on the table by both sales and operations. If you are looking at your particular operation and are suddenly realizing your managers are not thinking out-of-the-box enough to improve your profitability, it might be time to find some managers who can. JDI Search is a hospitality recruiter specializing in finding the ideal executive-level managers for hospitality operations. For more information about our services, please click here.

Photo By RuslanOmega