Elevating Hotel Events for the Long Haul
Keeping tables, chairs, and more looking sharp.
There is no doubt that in many hotels and resorts, banquets and events are the cash cow for the F&B operation. However, staying competitive and forward-thinking requires a constant inflow of funds to keep tables, chairs and other equipment looking sharp and current. Unfortunately for many, this is not the case, and banquet tables are held together with half a roll of duct tape and a prayer.
Banquet equipment such as tables, chairs, bars, buffet tables, and coffee break carts are the backbone of day-to-day operations. In most instances, it is an all-or-none purchasing scenario. If new banquet chairs are needed, frequently it is necessary to buy the full inventory, which requires a significant amount of capital. Partial purchases can be done and should be done for tables that are used for specific purposes such as buffets, coffee breaks, or receptions, but when it’s time to replace tables for sit down dinners or conferences, it’s an all-in scenario.
The accepted rule of thumb is (or was) that 10% of total event space would be allocated for equipment storage. Unfortunately, that now seems to be the exception, not the rule. As hotels are being built, there is the constant struggle over revenue generating space and operational needs. Can you guess who wins? Knowing this is imperative to have a realistic and accurate understanding of storage capacity and restraints before ordering any large scale banquet equipment. Consider a typical hotel, where a 12,000-square-foot ballroom may need up to 1,100 chairs or more just for conference seating.
The second consideration is understanding your capital improvement cycle. This includes knowing when and how much funds will be released for events as well as if funds can be set aside from the operating budget to be applied to large equipment purchases (every company is different so it is important to discuss with your financial team). Knowing this will require some tradeoffs and long-term planning. Typically, it comes down to equipment that is in a critical position and determining what can be pushed until the next funding cycle becomes available. Be that as it may, never miss the opportunity to build a strong business case to appeal for additional funds if the quality and style of the banquet equipment is causing the operation to lose business.
The style, positioning, and competitive set of the hotel will be important when exploring design. From an operational perspective, comfort, weight, movability, transportation system, transformative attributes, and durability are all important.
Equally important are the tables that will be used for buffets, receptions, bars, registration and classroom settings. However, one should always be mindful of the design style of hotel to ensure the operational components complement the overall aesthetic. Given the fact that storage space has been greatly reduced, a great strategy is to explore nesting and modular tables. These are tables that can easily slide into each other, can be broken down into core components, or become part of the public space, and, when needed, can be moved apart to be a fashionable buffet area.
In addition, linen-less tables provide a vast amount of flexibility, not only in conference-style seating but also on receptions, coffee breaks, and buffets. Many tables are now available in a modular form, enabling the operator to take the basic style and easily convert a table into a cooking station, bar or registration table with the use of add-on modesty panels, in-table induction cooking units, and bar speed rails. They also can easily be broken down into the smallest components and easily stored.
In order to offset significant outlay of funds many operators work with local rental companies to provide “special” chairs, tables, bars and props as needed for weddings and other unique events, then pass along those costs to the guest as part of their program. Others have worked with third parties to sell used chairs and tables being replaced.
Member, Hotel F&B Editorial Advisory Board
President, LJ Trope & Co. LLC