Serving alcohol at a meeting or event tends to be a boon for guests, but it can also add stress for planners. Luckily, Complete Beverage Service, a Minneapolis-based beverage company, has spent more than 20 years perfecting the art of beverage catering in the metro area.

The small, family-owned and -operated company, which specializes in beverage catering for any type of event from a small office happy hour to corporate events with thousands of guests, is run by Melissa Glancy, her brother and her father. Glancy, who is also the sales manager, sat down with Minnesota Meetings + Events to share some tricks of the trade from her years of experience.

"The first rule of thumb when it comes to planning an event with alcohol is that the number of guests is the most important aspect."

Pricing out the alcohol for an event isn’t usually negotiable and is almost always based off the number of attendees, so getting these numbers right can ultimately save money.

"Plus, you never want to run out of the product at an event," says Glancy. "I always plan for one drink per person, per hour. That always leaves us with more than enough."

Glancy advises to opt for a keg with larger groups because bottled beer is more expensive. Additionally, assess the needs of your event. If it’s a dinner, it could be beneficial to stick with beer and wine-leave the mixed drinks for a happy hour. But remember, nonalcoholic options need to be provided, too.

Finally, plan ahead and talk to experts, like Glancy herself or other seasoned event planners. Permits are dependent on each city, so Glancy always looks into them long before the event starts. It’s important to make sure the company and the venue are in understanding of each other-this is where speaking to an expert can come in handy. "Don’t be afraid to ask," she says. "A successful event can happen when you trust the expert’s opinion."

The times they are a-changing, and that has never been truer than when it comes to selecting an A/V partner and deciding whether the in- house A/V vendor or an outside third-party provider is the right partner for you. Due to advancements in technology, lighting and other A/V equipment that has come down in price, planners are now finding op- portunities to use previously out of budget technology with a much more palatable price tag. 

 

Retreats and off-site meetings present wonderful opportunities for groups to collaborate, strategize and build relationships away from their normal office environments. With proper planning, these sessions can be highly effective and even pivotal in setting a new direction. However, off-sites may present some unforeseen challenges that can quickly deflate the energy in the room if not anticipated and addressed in advance.

 

Landing a big-name keynote speaker can be a significant part of your conference budget. That person should add credibility to the event and hopefully boost attendance. But if your speakers just deliver canned presentations before making a quick exit for the airport, you and your attendees are missing the full value they can bring to an event. With some extra planning, you can help set up the speaker and your event for success.