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Raising the Bar - How Bar Service Can Make or Break Your Event

The service and availability of alcohol at an event is often joked about, but the approach taken to bar service can make or break your event. Ensuring attendees have a good time at night but wake up ready and fresh the next day is a serious challenge, but will have a resounding impact on the memories of the event that are forged. Understanding this balance whilst maximising your beverage budget is not easy, but our experience gained from years of weddings and conferences will assist you planning this event element effectively

Running a tab

If running a bar tab, work with the bar staff to decide which types of beverages are to be served. Start by deciding if you would like beer, wine, cider, and/or spirits included, then look at the price points and the quality of the selection to make your decisions. If budget-conscious, opt for house wines and local beers. If you have cash to splash and hope to make an impression on your guests, choose a more premium selection.

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Communicate with the bar staff

If you would like to cap the amount of money spent on the bar each evening, let the bar staff know this dollar figure from the start of the night. Ask them to advise you when the spend is close to reaching this predetermined limit, so that you can look at amending the bar limit in the moment if desired.

Quiet nights

On the nights of your event you would like to be ‘quieter’, look at ending the bar tab at a reasonable hour. It is up to you if you then allow guests to purchase their own beverages or close the bar completely, but either way, you will slow down bar service. Advise the bar staff pre-event when you plan on ending the bar tab each evening, but amend this decision if you feel necessary on the night.

If you hope to run some activities early-morning across the event, definitely schedule these for after ‘quieter’ nights. Knowing that there is an expectation to wake up early the following morning should deter most from getting too silly the night prior.

Beverage packages

To maximise your beverage budget on the larger evenings of your event, look at your beverage package options ($$$ per person for unlimited alcohol for a set duration), instead of paying for each drink as it’s consumed by the group. This will make the group feel as though they have access to more beverages, and therefore looked after, whilst you are saving money. Most venues will have different package options available at different price points, so work with them to find the best solution for you.

conference planning guide

Taylor Davidson