The Dilemma: To Feed or Not to Feed

We’ve selected a venue to ensure we have enough space to accommodate a professional conference, we’ve designed the program to provide the best experience for attendees - now comes the tricky decision of what else to include. 

It's a hard decision deciding whether to provide food or not at an event. There are so many factors that go into food and beverage (F&B to event planners) decisions - from deciding what, if anything, to include (meals, snack breaks, beverages), what are there alternative options within the vicinity for attendees to access, what are the right items to offer and most importantly how it all fits into the planning budget. 

I want to caveat this message by saying with past AORE venues, we have received complimentary education space provided that we meet minimums on F&B and hotel attrition rates. This co-dependent relationship makes it harder to define these expenses as singular line items in a budget.

Most people would say they want food, but they also don’t want to pay for it (or think it could be cheaper). It’s imperative to note that we have done a disservice to the industry by not being clear on the financial realities about conference events as well as the misrepresentation of what things should be included. We want to share a wider lens on the conference industry, in hopes that it helps folks understand why many professional conference rates are in the $500 - $1,000 range. To put it bluntly - food & beverage costs are expensive, no matter the venue. 

Here is one (seemingly) simple example: offering complimentary coffee for attendees at a conference. At a past convention center for AORE’s conference to offer one gallon of coffee was $75 (plus tax & service fees) - this is sixteen 8 oz servings. For a group of 500 attendees we would need to order 32 gallons - which is $2,400 (again plus tax and service fees). For ONE coffee break. All this is assuming everyone ONLY consumed 8 oz of coffee (which we all know it takes more than 8 oz to get the wheels spinning). Because I can’t help myself, here’s another quick example - to offer ONE muffin to 500 attendees, it would cost $2,310 (again plus tax and service fees). 

We’ve worked hard to keep AORE conference rates around $500 for the past 5 years (if not longer) even as service prices continue to climb - F&B, space rentals, audio/visual (all aspects of planning really). With this in mind we have had to make the decision on whether to include F&B in the conference experience and if so, what that looks like. 

All this is to say that “free” isn’t really free and AORE must make the best financial decisions it can to ensure that everyone’s needs are met in the most cost-effective way. Does this mean AORE will never have F&B at an event in the future? No. We just hope that if you aren’t seeing that “complimentary coffee” that you know that there was a very intentional financial decision made.  

Ever have a question about AORE or what we're up to? Just ask! Reach out to us at!