Venues want to be sure large events go off without a hitch or, if there is a hitch, they want to be sure it's not their fault. With that in mind, they provide carefully crafted Banquet Event Orders (BEOs) which event coordinators must sign. While it might be hard to sue if a BEO is not followed to the letter, it is a legal contract and should be read carefully before it is signed.
What Is a Banquet Event Order?
Nearly every major event planned at a hotel or special event facility requires a BEO, which is a contract that outlines every detail of the event. If you're an event planner, you'll want to become familiar with BEOs so that you're able to ensure that all details are covered correctly.
The agreement is often outlined on a form that details selections for food and beverage, audio/visual, room setup, table centerpieces, staffing requirements, and all other items relating to your event. Included in the BEO is an itemized list of costs you will need to pay. The above information will usually be grouped under subheadings, along with contact information, schedule, terms and conditions of the arrangement, and the signature blocks.
Reading the BEO
While it's obvious you need to read the BEO and agree to the terms outlined in the agreement, make sure also to read the fine print. It's important to be fully informed about what you are agreeing to, including all costs.
Check that the following is outlined in the general section of the BEO:
- Onsite contact’s information, including a cell phone number
- Use of the space for the day of the event (double-check to be sure that the spaces mentioned are the spaces you toured)
- Setup, start, and end times for the event
- The total number of guests expected
Food and Beverage Arrangements
A section of the BEO will be devoted to food and beverage arrangements. You want to make sure the following are detailed in this section:
- The entire menu, including all courses
- Every item at a buffet, and how each station will be set and positioned in the room
- How the venue intends to address the needs of guests who have special dietary concerns (such as gluten-free or vegetarian diets)
- Service times
- Special items regarding service, such as wine and sparkling water on the tables
- A breakdown of all food prices
- Detailed list of alcohol, including brands of alcohol and beer available at the bar
The BEO should specifically outline the entire room setup. This includes:
- Placement of tables
- The number of seats per table
- Placement of food stations
- Location of entertainment (and details regarding accommodation of entertainers if appropriate, including storage of equipment, access to food and drink, changing space, etc.)
- Location of bar(s)
Some BEOs may even include a diagram of the room setup.
Audio/Visual and Outside Vendors
Audio/visual arrangements will sometimes appear on a BEO, but since many venues contract A/V services to a third party, there may be a separate contract. If it is included in the BEO, make sure all details are finalized before signing the contract.
Terms and Conditions
All contracts, including BEOs, have terms and conditions to which you must adhere. Make sure you are aware of all terms and conditions before signing the document. For example, what are the terms of the agreement in case of a cancellation? How will disputes be settled if, for example, a guest slips and falls?
It's important to ask any questions of the facility manager and confirm details with your client before signing. Once you have signed the BEO, it's a binding contract.