An ‘industry standards’ story: Seeing red when someone is green

An ‘industry standards’ story: Seeing red when someone is green 

August 2012 morsel

If you’re reading this, please batten down the hatches because I PROMISE you that I’m going to blow! NOTHING wears me out more than having some young events professional, and I use the term loosely, tell me that something is not “industry standard.”

This is so infuriating because I have earned my dues with 25 years’ experience working in 23 countries. It’s rare for me to even quote industry standard. This term seems to be the fall back when a vendor is uneducated, can’t think past the everyday and/or doesn’t want to go the extra mile. Vendors spurt this phrase out of their mouths thinking that’s going to end it since they are the voice of authority. Not so much.

A recent scenario led me to ask myself: What is considered industry standard? How does that line get drawn (as applied to banqueting)?

To me, and based on my experience, industry standards are best practices that are formula based, not scenario based. When someone in the industry quotes scenario-based “industry standards,” I can always tell they’re haven’t been around the block enough.

These examples are formula-based best practices that are true:

  • Industry standard for banqueting wait staff serving a plated meal: One server per 25 to 30 guests.
  • Industry standard on banqueting bars: One bartender per 100 to 125 guests at a cash bar; one bartender per 75 to 100 guests at a hosted bar.

The next example is a scenario-based situation in which the green events manager spurted off industry standard to me without listening to what I was saying or asking.

“I have a customer who is doing a large customer event in a popular nightclub. I have done this event through the years and, being the good event professional, have group history. The event is a five-hour event and is one of the few times where it makes more sense for the group to do a bar package as opposed to consumption. Since not everyone is going to be there the entire five hours, we have been guaranteeing x amount of people at the five-hour bar package, which takes us into the first two hours of the event. For the next hour, we do a three-hour bar package, then a two-hour.

“The client doesn’t allow any customers in for the last hour because it gets too hectic. This method of charging has worked well for us as well as the venues. I explained  this to my catering manager and showed her the group history. This method works best for us because it helps me with budgeting, etc.”

The venue response back to me was ‘no,’ and that this way of charging wasn’t industry standard.

Seriously? It took a lot of willpower for me NOT to ask who is she to be quoting industry standard. We have been using this method of charging for years. I was very disappointed at the venue’s inflexibility because I was not asking for any type of discount. I was using their published bar packages for us to adjust accordingly based upon guest arrival.

The point in sharing that story is to explain that a scenario-based situation is not a circumstance in which industry standard should be quoted.

When any one of you run into this situation, do ask what qualifies this person to quote industry standard. You often will leave them dumbfounded because they won’t have an answer. It’s just another example of vendors not wanting to go the extra mile.

This is my industry standard story for now, and I’m sticking to it.



Speak Your Mind



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.