Controlling the Beverage Budget at Your Meeting

With budgets continuing to tighten on meetings and conference it is important to look for not only areas to save but for areas where unexpected spending may occur. It can be tough to forecast just how much attendees might drink during breaks and meals if given the option. Is it possible for attendees to drink more than $8000 then you budgeted over 3 days? Apparently yes.


Let's look at ways to control this budget line item.


  • ask to purchase coffee by the gallon, not per cup
  • ask to purchase juice bulk by the gallon, not in individual containers
  • offer bulk water on meeting tables, and in lobby and food and beverage areas
  • at breaks offer flavoured water in bulk, with fruit and herb add ins instead of pop and juice
  • communicate clearly with your food and beverage team that beverages are not unlimited, set a quantity, and when they run out, they are out.  Establishing this line item as fixed in your budget, versus variable will let you stay on budget.

Don't take "no" as the end of negotiations

If the venue indicates that you must choose off their catering menu, don't take that as a final decision.  A food and beverage team should want to provide the best possible solutions and options for a client.  If they do not price for coffee by the gallon, ask, if they do not price juice by the carafe/dispenser, ask!  Ask to customize to fit your group's needs and budget.

Food (...or should I say drinks) for thought

Groups don't need sugary drinks to fill them up through the day, move towards offering healthy and hyrdrating options with water.  If they need a sugar fix, they will seek it out and pay for it themselves.

The days of individual consumption bottles are now an environmental faux pas, especially in a large meeting setting. Take the step to be more conscious of this.