Editor’s note: This article first published in the June 2023 State of the Industry Special Edition of Beyond the Meeting Room, ALHI’s printed magazine, a luxury lifestyle publication focused on sharing compelling, inspirational and educational stories from beyond the four walls of a meeting room.

Hospitality professionals are finding creative ways to stretch tight budgets at a time the cost of eggs, butter, meat and other staples remains daunting—and, at the same time, many organizers and attendees are following trends that may add to their overhead, like buying local, sustainable food and catering to special diets.

That’s the conundrum facing hospitality professionals like Sandy Rasque, a meeting planner in Anaheim, California.

These days, she gravitates to make-your-own-plate style menus, with a variety of hot and cold dishes, to simplify menus and keep costs down. And when she does so, she’s choosing “super clean” menu items, keeping vegetables separate from meat and meat separate from sauces, and eliminating dairy entirely, so those with special dietary needs and preferences can easily make a meal to accommodate them.

“It puts the control back in the hands of the attendee,” Rasque said.

Her budget-consciousness extends to planning refreshments at breaks. With the cost of coffee very high, Rasque tries to avoid serving it altogether when she can.

“Many people aren’t drinking coffee now, and we can go with bottled sparkling water at most of the events we do now,” she said. “We don’t even add sodas anymore when we do group events because that adds a lot of costs, and you have to have a number of different kinds. You’re really guessing how many people will be drinking sodas, and that number has dwindled so much that no one blinks when we don’t bring anything other than water and iced tea.”

Read the article.