The $16 muffin outrage!

While it’s last weeks news, it’s still making me laugh a week later, so I thought I’d blog about it…

There was outrage that the US Justice Department paid $16 a muffin (and $10 a cookie) as part of the catering for a legal conference held at a hotel near the White House.

Anyone involved in organising conferences knows that hotels want to make a certain amount of money from a conference, which you can pretty much express in this simultaneous equation:

Income = Meeting Room Hire + AV + Catering + Hotel Rooms

Thought of simplistically, the hotels income breaks down roughly as fixed costs, such as the hotel’s overheads, the cost of consumables for the event, such as coffee and food, the costs of hiring anything special in for the event (such as AV the hotel can’t provide in-house, or additional casual staff), and a chunk of profit.

So, you can end up with a situation whereby if someone doesn’t negotiate hard enough, and not enough people stay in the hotel, the coffee and muffins become very expensive.