Banquet Event Orders – How to Create and Use a BEO
There are hundreds and hundreds of details involved in proper event management and planning. However, not all of those details are of equal importance. In fact, there are a handful of critical details that every person involved in producing the event must have at their fingertips - from the venue staff and managers, event planners and outside vendors to the clients themselves.
This is why caterers and venues like restaurants, hotels, convention and conference centers, wedding venues, banquet halls and special event facilities invented the banquet event order many years ago and why it is a critical part of their venue management systems and processes. And if you have ever planned or booked an event at one of these facilities, you are already familiar with this interesting little sheet that’s usually packed with vital information. Let’s take a deeper look at what makes up a BEO.
What Is a Banquet Event Order?
A BEO is a single-page document developed by an event venue or caterer that offers a detailed yet precise guideline of the key logistical, timing, catering, staffing and setup details involved in the production of an event.
For a quick look, download a sample banquet event order template free (in Google Sheets) to get an idea of what a BEO looks like.
A banquet event order or BEO can go by many names, including event order or EO, banquet order, function order, kitchen order, function agenda, event agenda, function sheet, event run sheet or running sheet. In addition, the specific details included in a BEO can vary somewhat among venues and caterers (which we will cover later in this article).
However, the reasons behind using BEOs are usually the same:
- To direct venue/event/kitchen staff and vendors properly and ensure all event team members are coordinated and working in unison.
- To ensure that the client is aware of key details and has agreed to them.
- To streamline and automate processes on the day of the event.
- To avoid mistakes, oversights and duplicated efforts that could lead to major issues.
How is a BEO typically used?
Venues and caterers will prepare BEOs for almost any size and type of event, from small parties and gatherings to weddings and corporate events to large galas and festivals. In addition, if an event contains two or more “sub-events” that have their own unique setup, schedule and/or food-and-beverage requirements, the venue or caterer will likely create multiple BEOs for the same overarching event.
Usually a banquet event order is developed by an event manager, catering sales manager or group sales manager, and it serves two purposes:
- As a road map for internal staff and external vendors for setting up and executing key event deliverables.
- As a legally binding contract and the client’s final signoff on what will be delivered and when it will be delivered.
As such, it communicates to the client what they can expect on the event date and to the staff and vendors their responsibilities on the event date.
Typically a BEO is created after the sales process and after the client has signed off on an event proposal and contract. It also may follow or be created during the event invoicing and payment process (depending on the payment terms of the venue or catering company).
The layout of a banquet event order template or document should be simple to follow and easy to read. Ideally it is quickly scannable so recipients can find important information in seconds, and as such it should be single-sided (though some providers attach documents like room layouts, proposals, invoices or equipment setup lists). Many event run sheets organize information in a two column or three column format, while others employ a grid layout; any one of them is capable of keeping details well-organized.
Again, depending on the venue, the BEO is distributed anywhere from a few days to several weeks prior to the event date, usually by email but sometimes by printed hand-out. The distribution list of a BEO can include the client, event planner, head chef, kitchen staff, beverage or bar manager, banquet captains, venue managers, sales managers, front desk, accounting staff and parking staff.
What Details Are in a Banquet Event Order?
As mentioned earlier, very few event function sheets look the same or contain identical information, and for good reason: because no two venues or catering companies are the same, and each does business a little bit differently.
In addition, if you do an Internet search for BEO templates, you will find very few of them look the same or are identical in how information is organized.
With that said, here are some common items you will see on many BEO templates, with many of these items being standard across almost all event orders.
Event Name, Dates and Times
This is basic topline information that every BEO should contain.
Ideally this should provide the name, phone number and email address of key stakeholders, including the client (individual, group or company), sales manager, general manager, kitchen contact, head bartender, etc.
Often outside vendors are required for the execution of an event (like DJs, bands, speakers, rental companies, florists, outside caterers, etc), and this area can include their names, responsibilities and contact information.
Can include minimum, expected and guaranteed number of guests as well as meal count breakdowns.
Food and Catering
If meals, appetizers and/or snacks are being served, this section should include items like menus (with breakdowns for entree options), service type (buffet, sit down, etc.), food costs/prices, dietary concerns or dietary restrictions, vendor meals and children’s meals.
At the least, this section should offer water/coffee/soft drink service offerings, and if alcohol is included, there should be breakdowns on what is being served, in what quantities and at what cost. Note that most party and wedding banquet event orders will include bar service details.
Order of Events Timeline
Sometimes called a run-of-event schedule, sometimes called an event agenda or timeline, this should detail in chronological order the timing and locations of items like event setup/teardown, guest arrival, food-and-beverage service and clearing, entertainment/speakers, vendor cues, etc.
Venue and Room Assignments
This section identifies the specific rooms and areas where event activities are being held and the rental fees for each.
Many events require extensive furnishings, equipment and decor, including tables, linens, centerpieces, chairs, stages, podiums, microphones, speakers, screens, lighting and other event-related resources. This section outlines required equipment lists and necessary instructions (like number of chairs at tables, height of stages, etc.). Note that audio visual items are frequent items in this list.
If necessary, this outlines self-parking/parking lots, valet, shuttle, public and other applicable transportation options. However, parking details can also be included in the setup or special requests sections.
While not as extensive as a proposal or invoice, the banquet event order can contain pricing totals and overall breakdowns so the client can re-confirm their financial commitment.
If the client has made or paid for any special items or services, this is where those items would be described. These requests would usually be outside the bounds of or in addition to normal services or resources that are offered in the other areas of the BEO.
Terms and Conditions
Some BEOs double as client contracts, and as such contain basic legal language of the binding nature of the document once it is signed.
If your BEO template contains terms and conditions, then you will also need a signature area to either physically or electronically capture signatures (with dates) for a client and a representative of your company. The purpose of this is for the client to confirm that they agree on what will be delivered on the designated days and times and what they will be paying for them.
What Shouldn’t Be in a BEO
While it’s convenient to try and place every vital billing, contractual, logistical and scheduling detail into one document, it’s really asking too much of a single-sided BEO sheet to do all that.
So for starters, a proposal/quote and invoice should be their own documents and used to convey pricing/offering details and billing/payment information, respectively. These documents routinely must contain lots of details on costs, taxes, gratuities, other fees/charges, product/service descriptions and options, product imagery, deposits, payments and payment options. Including them in a banquet event order will only overwhelm and confuse clients, so it’s best to keep those details in separate documents. Plus you can always attach them to the BEO if necessary.
Also, event layout diagrams and seating charts also are not routinely part of a BEO. Again, this information, while a helpful guide for venue/catering setup staff, is too much visual information to cram into the structure of a BEO and is better served by being included in its own document (again, you can always attach it to the event order).
The Future of Banquet Event Orders
For the last 30 or so years, banquet event order spreadsheets and electronic documents (i.e., Microsoft Word and Excel, Google Docs and Sheets) have been the primary tools used by event venues, restaurants, hotels and caterers in creating BEOs. Although these tools have enabled event professionals to design custom BEO templates for their businesses, filling out these spreadsheets is still time-intensive because specific information for each event needs to be entered in and then manually edited when details change.
Now technology is again playing a big role in innovating BEOs with banquet event order software tools available from a variety of venue management and event management software platforms like Planning Pod, Tripleseat, Event Temple and Amadeus. It’s recommended to sign up for a free trial or demo of these tools to make sure they fit your needs before purchasing.
Here are just a few advantages of using BEO software tools:
Data merge, auto-fill and auto-updating
Pull information that’s already been entered for the event into BEOs automatically and never again double enter information like client details, contact information, event dates/times, menus, timelines, invoiced totals, payments, etc. Any time information is updated in other areas, it will also update in the BEO so it’s always current.
Online management and review
Manage and store BEOs in a single organized place (that is, in a secure, cloud-based environment); access them from anywhere on computers, tablets and smartphones; and share them with clients online and via PDF downloads.
Have access to one-, two- and three-column event order templates that have already been built and can be easily customized based on the needs of the business.
Customization and branding
Add logos, business colors, contact details and more to every BEO sent out.
Easier team collaboration
Multiple internal users can log into the account and quickly access BEOs in order to make relevant changes and communicate them with the team and client.
Streamlined client communications + electronic signatures
Easily share professionally designed BEOs with clients online and track event client email communications, updates and changes with them in real-time. Plus efficiently collect online signatures from clients regarding their BEOs and receive reminders on unsigned documents.
To summarize, the banquet event order is an essential document in the overall event planning process for a venue or caterer, and any tools you can implement to streamline the BEO process will serve you well in saved time and reduced errors.