Hotel and conference center catering departments offer some good entry-level positions for folks looking to break into event planning as a career. Understanding the daily operations of an on-site catering operation is required knowledge for most hotel management positions, so acquiring this experience early in your career will lay the foundation for long-term job growth.
Every venue has a different hierarchy of catering sales positions, but the most prominent opportunity for those with limited event backgrounds is typically advertised as “catering sales coordinator” or “catering accounts representative.” These positions are essentially one in the same; it is just that certain venues use different titles to describe the position.
Requirements and Salary
Catering sales positions typically require a bachelor’s degree or some combination of higher education and experience. Salaries range between $27,000 to $38,000 per year depending on experience and the size of the venue. Annual performance and sales bonuses are usually included at the big hotel corporations.
The primary role of a catering sales coordinator is to meet with the client or lead planner to discuss food and beverage needs for their event. In some venues you work directly with the client and handle all aspects of catering for them. Other venues assign an event coordinator to clients, and in this scenario you would process food requests from the event coordinator and advise them on menu selection, prices and staffing needs.
The catering sales staff is expected to be familiar with the venue catering guide and ordering policies. Because this is a sales position, one of the goals is to upsell menu selections and maximize revenue whenever possible. This is achieved through increasing per person food spends and applying structured fees in situations where costs overrun prices.
Beyond sales and customer service, catering sales coordinators are also responsible for managing the details for client food orders. This includes creating banquet event orders and insuring that relevant details are communicated to both the kitchen and banquet staff. Efficient use of event management programs, email and room diagram software is often essential for good performance.
As with any coordinator position, communication is one of the important skills to have. As the main contact for the client, catering sales representatives are trusted to communicate all of the client’s food and beverage requests to the appropriate catering channel. This is done through creating BEO’s and meeting with kitchen and banquet managers.
The best catering sales coordinators are proactive problem solvers who know who to spot problems before they occur. A lot of catering mishaps occur due to a lack of information, which is why the sales coordinator has to really work with the client to understand all of their needs and chief concerns. A good coordinator will also help identify inefficient departmental practices and suggest ways to streamline them to shape a better experience for the client and staff.
Advancement opportunities are wide-ranging for individuals who demonstrate the ability to handle a high volume work accurately. Within the catering department, sales coordinators can become catering mangers or food and beverage directors. Hotel-related opportunities include room and banquet sales, front desk management and even general manager.