formal and informal functions

Type of function

Business organizations, clubs, family, and friends organize functions for various occasions. Due to non-availability of place to hold the function and time to pay attention to the detail, most of them depend on a third party to organize the function according to their needs. This is where the banquet department of a hotel comes to their rescue by conducting the function.

1. Formal function
In this type of function, certain procedures, such as seating the host, chief guest, guest of honour, and the invitees, serving the food and beverages are decided by the host. This should be strictly followed during the function. Formal functions always include speeches at a specified time winch at the end of the meal just before the service of coffee. Dress code for the invitees may be insisted upon. Controlled behavior of the guests prevails in the formal function catering.
Functions hosted by the head of the country or state, military, formal wedding breakfasts are some of the examples of formal functions.

Formal banquet setups
 class room style setup

 conference style setup

 theatre style setup

 U-sape setup

 fish bone setup

 E- shape setup

2. Informal Function
In an informal function, no formalities and procedures are followed on seating, serving, and the dress codes. The service is indiscriminate of sex and rank. These functions normally include entertainment. One can witness casual behavior of the guests in the informal functions. More of normal functions are organized in the present days. For example, birthday parties, cocktail parties, wedding anniversaries, club members meets, alumni meets, etc.
Functions can be further grouped into the following types according to their purpose.

a) Social Function
 The purpose of this type of function is to meet people, make new friends, entertain oneself, and For example, cocktail parties, wedding anniversaries, birthday parties, wedding dine and dance parties, etc.
b) Public relation
These are organized by the business houses in order to make the consumers aware of their presence and to establish relationship with them. Exhibitions, contests for home makers, fashion parades, dealer's meetings etc. are some of the examples.
c) Conferences
The purpose of this type of function is to share the knowledge and expertise and to discuss on matters of concern. Political conferences, trade union conferences, international and national conferences on important issues etc. are some of the examples.
 Informal setup

Following are some of the functions normally organized by the banquet department of a hotel.
Workshops • Seminars
Conferences • Exhibitions
Fashion parades • Beauty contests
TV shows • Training sessions
Wedding receptions • Wedding anniversaries
Birthday parties • Graduation days
Alumni meets • Cocktail parties
Club members' meets, etc. Whatever may be the kind of function, it needs two broad categories of facilities without which the function will be a failure. The facilities are in the following.
Food and beverages
Other amenities include seating, audio, video, stage, lighting, press meet, etc. which vary according to the type of function

All the functions need some basic facilities other than food and beverages. These facilities vary according to the type of function. For example, the facilities required for a seminar will be different from those required for a beauty contest. The facilities required should be discussed with the host at the time of booking the function and provided accordingly. Banquet department is a facilitator. If the facilities required by the host, say an LCD, or a screen, is not available in the hotel, they may be outsourced. Other than the provision of food, beverages, and seating arrangement, following are the facilities required for various kinds of functions, but not limited to.

Road show/ Exhibition

This is basically a display of a particular product. This may be from the same company- different types for example range of Akai TV’s or may be different company TV’s displaying their range of products. The set up for all road shows or exhibitions will differ from product to product. In this sort of an event a hall hire is charged to the concerned as guests keep coming and going. There will be an ad in the newspaper regarding the timing of the road show & guests will choose a convenient time to visit. The hotel high organise a coffee tea service for all the guests who come in.


An exhibition of sarees will require a platform or a stage in each stall to display the entire saree with lot of spotlights so that the colour is not hidden. They will also require tables behind to store the sarees. One man per counter from the company as a salesman displaying. A computer road show will require stalls as in cubicals with spotlights highlighting the product & a display table with focus light to display the catalogues of the product. They would also require lot of extension cords to operate the computers & printers & a three phase power supply available at all times. In these sort of road shows no one speaks, but each stall has a salesman who takes care of getting the addresses of the guests who are interested to buy the stuff. These guests are approached at a later date by the company for sales.

Product Launch

This type of a function mainly is for company who has just launched a new product in the market. This will mainly consist of a presentation regarding the product to the dealers. May it be a medical product, toothpaste or a computer or a new toffee. The presentation will be done by a single person who knows the product well & is confident of handling the questions which may come up by the dealers.

The seating will necessarily be a theatre style with a visual aid. After explaining the product, the product is displayed for the guests to see. Spotlights will highlight the product. The dealers can go see the product & take samples & ask the company representatives questions regarding the product. A cocktail & dinner will follow this. This is a very prestigious function for any company. No compromises are generally made on the quality of the hotel & the food. Usually the best is chosen, as this is a time for the company to create an image about itself. Bigger the product , the bigger the type of function & the greater the product awareness in the market.


These are basically lectures given regarding a subject. After the researchers do research on a particular subject, they present the results & what they have found during the research to the other people in the same field. For example a seminar on “Cancer” will necessarily have doctors, journalist & druggists attending it. Doctors & druggists for sharing the knowledge & the journalist for bringing it to the rest of the world.

This also involves a lot of visual aids & the seating will be either theatre style or classroom style. In this sort of a conference, there will be a panel of guests who will be pioneers in the subject & will sit on a stage waiting or present their papers regarding the subject. Each one of them will present what their views are on the same subject & then answer to the question asked by the audience.

Press Meet

This is done if a company is making its shares public or a new company is being launched, so that the press can be called & the vital statistics of the company can be discussed so that the company is projected through newspapers to the public.

This is a very food way of advertising. To call the press & let the press spread the word around through newspapers to the other residents of the country. This is a theatre style of seating , but very small gathering. This might involve a visual presentation to the press & followed by question answer session by the press directed to the board of directors of the company.

Political Parliamentary Delegation Meet

This happens when a parliamentary delegation meets the tip officials of a Government concern or of a company. For example- Parliamentary Delegation of Railways will necessarily have the Railway Minister of state & the other Cabinet Ministers & the members working for the railway. They usually meet for a tea meeting or a luncheon meeting.

The seating is usually two I shapes facing each other. One I shape for the ministers & the other one for the railways. Each member of the ministry will have a mike & the proceeding will be recorded. It is a very high profile function with name crds for each members present in the I shape. The hotel coordinates with organizers regarding the names & the itinerary of the entire function.



The following should be kept in mind while handling conferences:

The exact seating arrangement. If possible insist on a seating plan drawing with the exact head table requirement.

The stationery requirement.

The audio / visual requirement. What is the equipment, which the guests are bringing, or what do they want us to organize. The type of markers they require.

We must be very clear about the break timings / lunch / dinner etc.....

We must know whether they require extra cords / pointer / laser pointer / podium etc...

We must be clear regarding the nature of the function, whether it is a road show / exhibition / display / seminar as the requirement for each is different.

For e.g. For a seminar, a stage & a podium might be required, for an exhibition spotlights might be required etc.

It should be clear whether flip chart / white board etc. is required, whether recording is required etc.

All arrangements should be in the F.P & before the conference it should be re looked.


These are also called conference friends. They are very important conference aids & add on to the quality of conferencing. These are kept on the registration table in the hall or on the tables depending on the size of the conference & can be passed onto whoever requires them. These may include: -

• Staplers

• Gem clips

• Bell pins

• A4 paper

• Pencil

• Marker pen

• Cello tape

• Pads

• Sharpener

• Ruler

• Eraser

• Rubber

• O.H.P marker pens

• Scissors

• Tape dispenser

• Punch machine

• Gum bottle

The above mentioned conference aids should be neatly kept at the regn table or the head table in a neat conference kit pack.

In case the conference is for a 2nd day: -

• The tables / chairs are rearranged.

• The glasses are cleared, washed & wiped.

• The tablecloths are checked, dusted, if dirty changed.

• The glasses are relayed.

• The champagne saucer is refilled.

• The white board is rubbed & cleaned & ready for the next day.

• House keeping is called for & the hall is brought back to normal.

• Bulbs are checked, fused ones are changed.

• Lights are switched off & the hall is locked & ready for the next day.

DAY –2 Winding OFF

Day –2 is very easy. Usually all the problems are sorted out on day 1. But all the guest demands need to be kept in mind before the day 2 starts.

• Nevertheless coordination has to be done with the host as for the break timings etc.

• Guest preferences are to be kept in mind. In case a guest has lemon tea, serve it before he asks for it. Warm water instead of cold water etc.

• The same procedure is followed in the first day.

• The supervisor should be there when the guest / host walks in so as to form an impression that “WE ARE READY”. 

Function StaffWorking in the banquet is very interesting and challenging as the staff gets experience of serving large gathering of people of different temperaments, likes and dislikes. It is also an opportunity extend services to celebrities. Most hotels operate the banquet business with very limited staff, avails the assistance of service staff from other food service departments of the hotel, such as room service, coffee shop, restaurant, etc. or hires people on casual basis from outside as and when required. This system of staffing was traditional during the period when the banquet business was mostly seasonal but today the banquet business trend is totally different. Now, the banquet department is busy all 365 days, most of the times managing three to four functions in one day, demands continuous supply of staff. The quality of casual labour outsourced may not be good or may not have the same level of commitment of the regular employees. Students of catering and hotel management course are not available all the time particularly during the examination time. Therefore, it is advisable to man the banquet department permanently with adequate staff considering the volume of sales so as to ensure better customer relations, and staff satisfaction.

The Requirement Calculation

The number of staff required for a function is determined by many factors, such as
•Number of people to attend                • Type of function
•Type of food service                         • Number of dishes offered
•Provision of alcoholic beverages—if provided, cash or inclusive
In a formal banquet, one food waiter is for every 10 covers.
One wine waiter for every 15 covers, if beverages are served on cash basis; for every 25 covers, if drinks are inclusive and limited.
One waiter for every 30 covers for buffet service, in general, however, it cannot be calculated by applying this norm as it depends on the number of food stations and other counters to be manned, number of dishes to be served by the waiters, etc.
One supervisor for every 30 covers for a formal function and 75 covers for a buffet. One head wine waiter for every four to five wine waiters.
The banqueting in-charge must ensure that the duty allocation is done properly in such a way that everyone is distributed with adequate tasks and no waiter remains ideal. The wine waiter engaged for the service may assist in the mise en place and in food service. Briefing the staff on the service procedure is the most essential part for the successful service which should be done just before the function.


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