A banquet event order (BEO) is a document that keeps catering and special event teams on the same page during an event. Here’s how to use a BEO, plus a free template.
This article is part of a larger series on Restaurant.
A BEO (banquet event order) is a one-page document used by catering and special event teams to communicate all the relevant details about an event service. BEO is the term most used in special events, restaurants, and hotels, even for events that are not technically banquets. Some solo catering operations may instead refer to simply an “event order.”
Any catering company, special events venue, event planner, restaurant, or hotel that hosts or plans large events can benefit from using a BEO. This single sheet provides a quick reference in the heat of service so you and all the teams collaborating on an event know exactly what time various tasks need to be performed, what food and beverages will be served, what items are rented, and who to contact in case something goes wrong.
Free BEO Template
Whatever your operational size or style, you can configure our free banquet event order template to fit your needs:
How to Use a BEO
Using a BEO is easy. The biggest thing to keep in mind is to keep everything on a single page, even if that makes the writing very small. Here’s everything you need to know:
Step 1: Start With a BEO Template
Whether it is the free template above, one you create yourself, or one that is included in your catering management software, you should start with a blank template. A BEO template should include all the information for the event in an abbreviated format and should fit on a single sheet of paper. The information should be in columns so you and your team can view relevant sections quickly from a single smartphone screen or fold paper copies into server books for quick reference.
What to Include in a BEO
A BEO should include several types of information. To effectively communicate across your staff and event collaborators, your BEO should include:
- BEO number: This number can help you track BEO versions, so if there are changes you know you are working with the most recent draft.
- Event details: Include the day, date, and start and end times for the event. Additional details—such as the occasion (like a wedding or bar mitzvah), event type (as in banquet, cocktail reception, etc.), and name and contact information for the client’s on-site contact during the event—will help your team set the right tone. You should also include the event location, which may be an off-site address or simply the name of the room or space in your venue.
- Client information: This should be the name, contact information, and billing address for the client paying the final bill.
- Staff information: List the roles and names of each staff member assigned to the event so your team knows what to expect. If your staff have different clock-in and clock-out times, list that on the BEO as well.
- Setup: This section should include a description of how to configure furniture and fixtures at the event site. Include decor instructions and any service timeline information that is important, such as the time of any toasts or speeches, when dessert should be served, or when bar staff should perform last call.
- Menu information: This section is a brief description of the food items to be served along with how they should be served. This should also include any dietary restrictions or food allergies in the party.
- Beverage information: Include any details about beverages from soft drinks to bar packages.
- Billing and payment details: This section is an overview of the total costs for the event and any payments made (such as a deposit). It should also include a final balance due so you (or your on-site staff) know how much to collect.
- Signature lines: A BEO should be signed by you and by the client or a client’s representative to ensure that everyone has read and understands the terms and timelines.
Depending on your catering style and the event type, you might want to include additional sections or different information. If your team all arrives in a single vehicle, for example, you may not need to include as much detail about staff in times and out times. Take some time to make your BEO template fit your most common event styles so you can complete it quickly when you book new events.
Step 2: Complete Your BEO With Event Information
A BEO should include all the basic information from the event time and location to notes about customer preferences, parking location, menu changes, food allergies, and more. But be careful how you include certain details, especially if you print physical copies. Staff can leave BEO copies sitting out, and event attendees might see sensitive information like pricing that your client would prefer to remain confidential.
Step 3: Get Signatures (optional)
Many catering and event companies choose to send a copy of the BEO to the client along with the final contract. This can ensure that you and the customer are completely on the same page about everything from when the staff arrives to who your team should interact with on the day of the event. If you have customers review your BEO, you should leave a spot for the customer’s signature. If you collect a customer signature, you should also sign the BEO. However, keep in mind that if you and the customer sign the BEO, it becomes a contract. So make sure the information on the BEO is 100% accurate before signing it yourself.
I’ve also worked with many catering and event companies who use BEOs informally as only internal use documents, without signatures. If you don’t collect signatures, then your BEO does not become a “binding contract,” though it does still reflect the information on the underlying catering contract you created for the event, so you should still treat the information with care.
Step 4: Share Your BEO With Staff
When your BEO is complete, you can print paper copies to distribute to staff or upload your BEO to a cloud service like Google Docs or Dropbox so your team can access them from smartphones. If you will be working an off-site event that does not have strong cellular reception, paper copies make the most sense. If you don’t want to run the risk that a client or event guest will accidentally see a BEO copy, cloud access is a better option.
BEO Tips & Best Practices
A BEO is a simple document that ensures the smooth running of catering orders and special events. All it takes to complete a BEO is attention to detail to ensure you transfer the information from the contract correctly. But there are few other things that will help you be successful.
Draft a BEO ASAP
Draft your BEO as soon as you complete the contract, while the information is fresh in your mind. This is the best way to ensure your BEO details are correct. And anytime the customer requests changes to the contract, adjust the BEO as soon after the conversation as possible. This is where numbering your BEOs can be handy. If you have gone through multiple BEO drafts when finalizing an event, you’ll know which is the most recent based on the BEO number.
Keep It to a Single Page
A BEO works best when it is a single page, full stop. So use small type or print double-sided, but whatever you do, keep it to a single page. Some of the biggest miscommunications I have ever seen in catering and events happened because a BEO was multiple pages, but some staff only saw the first one.
Keep BEOs Secure
A BEO contains a lot of sensitive information that is important to both you and your client. Especially when your client is hosting a large event, like a wedding or conference, they won’t want their attendees to see how much the event cost or other details.
So stress to your event staff how important it is to keep BEOs secured in their pockets, taped to a service area table or wall, or inside a server book. Alternatively, you can share your BEOs through a cloud-based platform like Google Docs so there are no hard copies to keep track of.
BEO Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Expand the sections below for answers to commonly asked questions about BEOs.
A BEO form is a banquet event order form, a single-sheet event summary commonly used in catering and special events management. Though the word “banquet” is in the title, caterers and event managers use BEOs for any type of event, from a cocktail reception to a bar mitzvah to a corporate conference.
A BEO should include all relevant event details on a single page. The best BEOs include the booking client’s name and contact information, the on-site client contact (if different from the client who is paying for the event), the date, time, and location of the event, along with menu information, staffing information, and a thumbnail of the pricing and balance due. If there is a set timeline for service (as there often is with weddings or corporate events), the BEO should include a summary of the schedule as well.
If you collect client signatures on your BEO, then yes, it can be considered a binding contract. Even if you don’t collect client signatures on the BEO itself, the information on it is still a reflection of the underlying event contract. So no matter how you use a BEO in your catering or event operation, it is essential that the information accurately reflects the information on the event contract.
A BEO keeps catering and special events teams organized. This one-page operational document is the difference between an event that runs smoothly and one that falls apart. If you have never used a BEO before, try our free template to get started. Using a BEO for every event—even the simple ones—will help your team and customers feel confident that everyone is on the same page.