A banquet is a major revenue generating project in food and beverage. Its fanction is to cater to large parties and can be formal or informal. These parties are normally held in open areas and not in restaurants. The banquet department has minimum permanent staff because of the nature of the business. In some months there are a large number of parties, and in some months there are none.
The formal parties are handled by in-house staff whereas for informal parties casuals are hired. Casuals are stewards who do the actual service and are hired on contractual basis as per the requirement and size of the party and how elaborate the menu is.
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Duties of a Banquet Manager
The banquet manager is responsible for selling, booking, arranging and serving all banquet functions. He/she is responsible for arranging local publicity stories after he/she has the permission of the people arranging for the banquet.
The banquet manager is too often more interested in selling the banquet than in making certain that the food preparations that are promised can fit into the available kitchen facilities. He must realize that the guests in the regular restaurants are the bread and butter, and so are the banquet guests. Unless every detail of the agreement made between the hotel and the person booking the function is in writing, misunderstandings are bound to arise.
The man who sells the banquet should see to it that there is a contract or letter mentioning these details duly signed by some responsible person. Copies of the menu selected should be distributed to the manager, chef, pastry chef, banquet head waiter, beverage department and accounting department. These menus should include all special arrangements which have to be made to minimize the possibility of error or omission.
The arrangements, for example, may have been made for floral displays, wedding canopies, ice cream display cabinets, multi-coloured spot lights, patriotic motifs, public address or photographic equipment, television hook ups or other special requirements. All these details should be listed on a function sheet and sent to various departments or sub-department heads concerned with making the necessary arrangements.
A chronological cross-check file of special arrangements is advisable to make certain that adequate preparations have been made sufficiently in advance to insure proper delivery and installation time. Weekly list of functions should be prepared and dispatched to all appropriate department heads. Signatures should be received to insure the actual receipt of these lists.
Daily function lists should be delivered to all department heads concerned as a reminder and to permit them to make last minute arrangements. The banquet manager should inspect the final arrangements for every function.
Banquet Head Waiter
The duties of the banquet head waiter are considerably more complex than for the same position in an ordinary dining room. Each function has different arrangements and personnel requirement.. He must draw up the floor plan and notify the housekeeper of the room and equipment requirement. He must also check the linen supplies, floral decorations, special menu cards and place cards. His major problem is of course the food service.
Engaging extra waiters, captains and bus help is his responsibility as is the maintaining of their time records and the authorization of payment vouchers for wages due. The banquet head waiter must obtain a verification of the number of persons served and present the bill for payment or signature. He must check in advance from the credit manager whether credit can be allowed.
He must collect for all bills not approved in advance for credit. Serving the food is the difficult part of his job. timing the courses so that all guests are served approximately the same time and finished at the same time is no simple job and requires complete cooperation from every one concerned.
The steward must supervise the supply of all special equipment and check refrigerators for storage of items prepared in advance of service. Control over dish washing, storage of left over and restoration to its proper place of all equipment used for the banquets are also his responsibility.
The banquet menu differs from the restaurant menu because it is custom tailored; while for the restaurant it is ready made. In the banquets, the menu is adjusted to the customer, and in restaurant the customer adjusts himself to the menu. Usually, the banquet menu is made up a week in advance which creates a problem since it is difficult to determine in advance market conditions or kitchen problems. With proper coordination among different departments, these difficulties can be greatly reduced.
When a banquet manager discusses arrangements with the prospective customer, he should have at his finger tips a complete list of all functions booked for the date under discussion. When the same group has patronized the hotel on previous occasions, those menus should be reviewed to prevent repetitions.Preparation of all types of dishes should be card indexed for easy reference.
The banquet manager should also keep a history of all problems faced during a function and their remedies so that in future there is no repetition. He/she should also know the limitations of kitchen so while booking functions that should be kept in mind, not only the profit making; otherwise it will result in poor service and loss of future business.
The house keeper besides taking care of the cleanliness and linen for banquet areas should also cooperate in the matter of service elevators use during banquets and other functions. The front office should be briefed about different functions and their location so that any guest seeking information is guided in proper direction. Daily event bulletin should be posted at strategic locations for the guests to see.
The chief engineer should be notified of all the requirements that are under. his jurisdiction. Any special electrical, carpentry or painting work should be specified in writing. The expected schedule of each function should be notified to the chief engineer so that his department can take care of the lighting and air conditioning arrangements.
The beverage department should be intimated of the beverage requirement so that extra help may be engaged in advance. The supervision of banquet beverage service is extremely important to prevent pilferage, faulty handling, standard cocktails and safeguard against dilution.
It is advisable to:
- Avoid parfaits for parties of more than 75 because of melting and storage problems.
- Avoid chicken pies for parties more than 100 since they tend to tie up the baking facilities.
- Try not to sell oysters and clams for more than 100 unless there is adequate staff of oystermen.
- Do not push baked Alaska or cherry jubilee for parties in excess of 25 because of service and preparation difficulties.
- Avoid parisienne potatoes for parties of more than 75 because of manpower requirement for scooping out each potato and also the waste.
These are a few of the possibilities that can be worked out in consultation between the chef and the banquet sales manager.
Duties of Banquet Sales Manager
The following are the duties of a banquet sales manager:
- Researching markets to identify opportunities for events
- Liaising with clients to ascertain their precise event requirements
- Producing detailed proposals for events (e.g., timelines, venues, suppliers, legal obligations, staffing and budgets)
- Securing and booking a suitable venue or location
- Ensuring insurance, legal, health and safety obligations are adhered to
- Co-coordinating venue management, caterers, stand designers, contractors and equipment hire
- Planning room layouts and the entertainment program, scheduling workshops and demonstrations
- Organizing facilities for car parking, traffic control, security, first aid, hospitality and press.
- Identifying and securing speakers or special guests
- Co-coordinating staffing requirements and staff briefings
- Selling sponsorship/stand/exhibition space to potential exhibitors/partners
- Arranging accommodation for exhibitors and/or delegates
- Preparing delegate packs and papers
- Creating, implementing and monitoring marketing and PR plans
- Liaising with clients and designers to create a brand/look for the event
- Liaising with newspapers, TV, radio and other media
- Writing press releases or briefs in order to gain maximum exposure for the event
- Organizing the design and production of tickets, posters, catalogues and sales brochures
- Co-coordinating everything on the day of the event to ensure that all runs smoothly
- Handling client queries on the day and troubleshooting exhibitor and visitor problems on the day
- Overseeing the dismantling and removal of the event, and clearing the venue efficiently
- Post-event evaluation (including data entry and analysis and producing reports for event stakeholders)
- Responsible for soliciting, banquet business and ensuring customer satisfaction with all functions booked
- Coordinates and supervises the execution of all banquet functions to ensure clients’ specifications are adhered to
- Make sure that the function runs smoothly and efficiently
- Possesses knowledge of food production and service
- Should have the ability to perform all position in banquet operations in order to supervise, direct, and train all banquet personnel.
Oversees management, budget and operation of the food service outlet, catering services, and kitchen, and maintains liaison with sales department to ensure maximum profitability.