how to read a banquet event order (beo)

how to read a banquet event order (BEO) - event planning 101

If you ever plan an event at a hotel or special event facility, you will likely have to sign a BEO, which stands for Banquet Event Order. Sometimes this form is called simply an Event Order or something similar. This is a document that outlines every detail of your event, so it can (and should) be detailed and thorough. But if you aren’t used to reading them, they can be overwhelming. Here are a few suggestions for working your way through the document, as well as some things to check for to make sure they are included.

The good news is that many hotels use a similar software so the BEOs tend to look pretty similar. Even if a BEO doesn’t follow this exact template, it should have all or most of this information. This is what many will look like (click the image to expand):

how to read a banquet event order (BEO) - event planning 101

The most likely “blocks” of information are contact information, schedule, food and beverage arrangements, room set up, audio ┬ávisual, terms and conditions, and the signature blocks. If you take nothing else from this article, remember to read EVERY SINGLE LINE on EVERY SINGLE PAGE. If you are planning a large event there will likely be different BEOs for each “piece” of the event, such as each breakfast, lunch, dinner, reception, general session, etc. While a lot of the information will be the same on each page, it’s important to read carefully. This document is what the hotel staff (especially catering and the team that sets up and tears down rooms) will use to manage your event, so if it’s not correct in the BEO it likely won’t be correct at your event.

Contact Information

This sounds obvious, but make sure this is correct. Make sure the on-site contact’s information is listed on the BEO – this will usually autopopulate with the contact information from the contract, but if it is a different person, make sure that person’s information is correct. I also like to make sure I include my cell phone. There is no use trying to call my office phone if I’m actually on-site at the hotel! This is also the section where many facilities have instructions on how to display the event’s information for the readerboards – this usually noted as “Post As.” Make sure this is correct! We often have internal names we use for events that differ from what we communicate to guests. Make sure the name of the event makes sense – guests may use readerboards to find out where meetings and events are located. If you have security or privacy concerns for an event and do not wish to post, make sure that is noted on the BEO on EVERY PAGE.


The schedule should list the different uses of the space for that day per event (many hotels will do one BEO per room – for example, one for the ballroom, one for the breakout room, one for the foyer). It should include set up time and the start and end times should be correct. Make sure these match when you need to have access to the space. This section may also have the total number of guests expected – often using fun abbreviations like “AGR, GTD, EXP, and SET.” This translates to Agreed (what did you contract for), Guarantee (how many people are you guaranteeing will be there if this has changed since the contract), Expected and Set.

Food and Beverage Arrangements

The entire menu should be detailed here – and I mean detailed! Every single item on a buffet should be outlined. Special diets, such as gluten-free or vegetarian, should be noted here. Service times may be included here (or may be incorporated into the schedule section). If there are any special items regarding service, such as wine and sparkling water will be tray passed as guests arrive, should be noted. If you are requesting the facility label all of the food items, it should be written here. ┬áThe prices should be noted, as well as if items are charged per person or based on consumption. If you are providing alcohol (bar arrangements are sometimes broken out into their own section) make sure every type of alcohol and beverage is listed – not just “house brands.” For meal functions, the total number that will be prepared should be explicit, including whether the facility will be preparing an overage above the guarantee.

Room Set Up

This should outline every aspect of set up within the space. If you are using a straightforward set up, such as theater seating for 100, you probably don’t need a diagram. But if it’s more complicated and otherwise non-standard, make sure you have gone over a diagram that should be attached to the BEO (and the BEO should reference that the diagram is attached). Most times the venue should be able to create the diagram for you – if you’re lucky, the venue is using a fantastic software platform like Social Tables to make things even easier!

Whether you have a diagram or not, each piece of furniture or major equipment should be noted, such as stages, risers, backdrops, etc. If the hotel is providing centerpieces or even just votive candles, this should be noted. Linens and table skirting should be outlined.

Audio Visual & Outside Vendors

Audio Visual arrangements will sometimes appear on a BEO, but since many venues contract their a/v services to a third party, there is often a separate contract. If you are using outside vendors, such as a florist, their information and delivery schedule must be on the BEO.

Terms & Conditions and the Signature Lines

Since a BEO is a contract, there will likely be terms and conditions to agree to. These may or may not be explicit on the BEO – if you have any questions, ask before you sign! And speaking of signing, make sure that you sign every page and request a countersigned copy from the facility that is also signed on every page.

There you have it – a cheat sheet for reading through a BEO. Again, the most important part is to be as thorough as possible when reading through them and if something is incorrect, making sure it is changed before the BEO is finalized.

For any event pros reading this, did I forget anything?

Photo Credit: { Tax Act }


  1. Kate says:

    Thank you so much for sharing such a thorough and complete breakdown on how to “decipher” a BEO. This is BY FAR the BEST EXAMPLE I’ve found on the internet! You kept it straight to the point, while emphasizing the importance of those details that could truly “make or break” an event.

    Additionally, you broke it down in laymen’ terms for those of us who are just getting started in this industry. Bravo!!

  2. Eddie says:

    This is great information for my future with the catering business. . The break was so clear that it provided me with a better understand what to look for when reading Banquet event order ,

    Greatly appreciated

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