The Singapore Event Planning Lexicon: 50 Essential Terms to Know

Have you found yourself bewildered by the event planning lingo and acronyms when reviewing an event contract, negotiating with a restaurant or planning a pitch to the boss? – Fret not. You are not alone.

Event Planning Terms

Whether you are a seasoned event planner who could use a refresher or someone just beginning to plan events – we’ve put together a lexicon of essential terms every person who plans events in Singapore should know. 

There are over hundreds of terms, vocabulary and jargon that industry professionals use.  We’ve shortlisted 50 essential key words when planning a business lunch or group dinner so that you can walk into any meeting and pitch like a pro:

  • Awards & Recognition (Restaurant & Bar)
  • Event and Catering Terms
  • Industry Associations and Organisations 

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS (RESTAURANT & BAR)

Relais & Chateaux Member

Established in 1954, Relais & Châteaux is an association of more than 550 landmark hotels and restaurants operated by independent innkeepers, chefs, and owners who share a passion for their businesses and a desire for authenticity in their relationships with their clientele. With a selection of restaurants and hotels of the highest quality, membership is exclusive and sought after as a mark of distinction. R&S quality department audits the candidate according to their quality charter, in accordance with more than 300 different criteria. A secret inspection is also done to control the criteria of excellence together with rounds of interviews made by the President himself. In Singapore, the sole member is Saint Pierre Restaurant which offers fine French cuisine by the bay. 

Michelin Star Restaurant

Awarded to restaurants by the red-covered guide, the Michelin Guide is published by the French tyre manufacturer of the same name. It was first published in France in 1900 as a travel guide to encourage motorists to take to the road,  in the hope of boosting their tyre-manufacturing business. Michelin introduced restaurant listings in 1920 and its star rating in the early 1930s. One star indicates “A very good restaurant in its category”; two stars is for “Excellent cooking, worth a detour”; and three stars denotes  “Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.” Michelin started expanding overseas in 2005, with its inaugural Singapore edition in 2016. In its latest edition, Michelin inspectors awarded stars to 44 establishments in Singapore, with Odette and Les Amis receiving a coveted Three Stars.  

Bib Gourmand

The Bib Gourmand category, created by the Michelin Guide in 1997, awards establishments that offer exceptionally high quality menus at great value for money. In Singapore, menus need to be priced at a maximum of S$45 per person for establishments to qualify for a Bib Gourmand. This year, 58 restaurants, eateries and hawker stalls were recognised with Bib Gourmand status.   

Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants

Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants is owned and published by William Reed Business Media which also runs the World’s Best Restaurant Awards. The Asia edition was launched in 2013 and takes in six voting regions.  The list is created by the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, an influential group of over 300 leaders in the restaurant industry across Asia, each selected for their expert opinion on Asia’s restaurant scene. This year, 7 restaurants from Singapore made the cut, with Odette clinching the list’s top spot.  

Asia 50 Best Bars

Asia’s 50 Best Bars is the first regional event of The World’s 50 Best Bars, created with the purpose of showcasing the best and most innovative talent in the drinks industry in Asia. The ranking is based on votes of Asia’s 50 Best Bars Academy members from 14 countries, comprising the most knowledgeable and travelled members of the bar industry, drinks media and mixology experts from across Asia. This year, Singapore remained the best in the region with 11 bars in Singapore making it to the list.   

EVENT & CATERING TERMS

MICE

An internationally used term for the business events industry which stands for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions. This acronym is commonly used in Asia and Europe.

Dry Event

Used in a hotel context to denote a catered event with no hotel room block.  Events are held in the hotel’s function rooms, ballrooms or various F&B spaces and are managed by the Sales & Marketing department of the hotel. 

Lead Time

The duration of time provided by a client to plan an event from the time of information to the event date.  Typically restaurants and venues require a minimum lead time to confirm a booking, secure the table and prepare special ingredients.

Minimum Guarantee

A clause found in restaurant contracts, this is the number agreed upon by the client as the minimum number of covers for the event. This means that if the actual number of covers is less than the minimum guarantee, you will still be charged based on that guarantee. Most clauses will also state a latest date that any change to this number can be made so as to not incur a penalty.

Banquet Manager

This is the person in charge of the operations of your event. Typically, the sales manager will negotiate and secure the contract and pass your instructions to the operations team to execute your event. This will be supervised by a banquet event manager. 

No-show

An expected guest or group that  does not attend and hasn’t advised the organiser or venue of a planned absence .

Item 86

A restaurant jargon to mean that a menu item is temporarily unavailable. Example, “the sea bass has been 86’d”.

On Consumption

A term used for beverages that refers to the purchasing option based on the amount utilised by the group. You  pay based on the actual food and beverage consumed . 

Proof

Alcohol proof is a measure of the content of ethanol in a beverage and is defined as twice the percentage of alcohol by volume. Hence a 100% proof whiskey contains 50% alcohol.

Beverage or Drinks Package

A set amount per guest, determined when making an event booking for beverages. Typically charged on hourly blocks or for the whole event, there are various packages for different types of drinks, both non-alcoholic or alcoholic. Choosing a package option that allows unlimited free-flow means  you don’t have to worry about exceeding budget or under catering .

Cocktail Reception

A networking function that can be held as a standalone event or prior to a meal. Usually networking in nature, drinks and passed canapes are typically served.

Table d’hôte 

A restaurant term to denote a set menu where multi-courses are served with   a few choices offered . This menu is typically chosen by the host and all diners at the table share the same menu with a variation of a choice of main course.

Dégustation

A sampling of the chef’s signature dishes in one seating.  Dishes are served in small portions (usually one and half bites) and the menu generally consists of six or more courses. This form of menu is usually offered at fine dining restaurants hoping to create a showcase for their high culinary art. It may also be accompanied with an optional wine pairing to complement the dishes.  

A La Carte

French term that translates to ‘from the menu,’ referring to items selected individually as opposed to offered in a package or as a set.

Buffet style

A form of service where the food is  laid out on platters for guests to serve themselves.

Butler Passed

Used in the context of canapés or other small bite-sized appetisers.  Butler passed is a more formal way to serve food at a cocktail reception , which means servers pass canapes around  on trays for guests to enjoy. 

Open Bar

Private room bar set up where guests do not have to pay for drinks. Also known as Host Bar or Sponsored Bar

Event Order

A form used by hotels and restaurants that indicates all details and specifications of the event. The document will include payment terms, menu, dietary preferences and flow of the event. The event order is a crucial piece of document that your event will be executed upon.

Call Brand

Any brand of liquor that a customer must order for by name in a restaurant or bar, instead of the more generic and typically less expensive house brand.

House Brand

Also known as well brand, these are the brands of wine or distilled spirits selected by the venue or restaurant as their standard when no specific brand is specified. 

Cash Bar

A private bar set up where guests pay for their drinks individually. 

Covers

Actual number of meals served at a function or in a restaurant

PDR

The Private Dining Room in a restaurant.  A room separated from the main dining area that can be reserved by groups to dine with more privacy. Frequently requested by event planners for parties or group dinners after a meeting or for an event.

Venue Rental

When booking an event space, venues or restaurants may impose a fee for the use of the space for a specific duration. This fee is usually exclusive of equipment and catering.    

Preferred Supplier

When booking a space, venues may specify a list of approved or preferred suppliers (e.g Audio Visual, Caterers) that can be booked for use in their space. This is a limitation that you should check in advance especially if you have a specific supplier in mind. 

Minimum Spending

Used in the context of a private dining room, most restaurants or venues will require a minimum food & beverage spending before you can utilise the room or space. If you do not reach the minimum spending amount, the restaurant will generally charge the difference as a venue rental charge.

Corkage 

A small charge applied for bringing outside alcohol into a venue or facility. The charge is normally made per bottle but may differ for wines, spirits and champagnes.

Site Inspection, Site Recce or Site Visit

In person on-site review and evaluation of a venue or location for an event. Typically a planner or organiser will conduct several site inspections or visits to various spaces before shortlisting and deciding on the final location.

Master Account

An account set up to which all charges for a specified group should be applied (often by the host or event planner).

Pro Forma Invoice

An invoice or bill provided by a supplier prior to the provision of the service that provides an estimation of the total cost of service.

Request for Proposal (RFP)

A formal request made by an event or meeting planner, which lists/details all of the specifications required for the event. This is sent to suppliers in order for the companies to draw up a proposal of their services and bid for the business.

Proposal

A written offer from a vendor or supplier to a prospective buyer, produced in response to an inquiry. This proposal will attempt to match the requirements and detail costs, availability, and specifications for the potential client.

Cut-Off Date

When a planner agrees to guarantee a number of people for their event  after the expiration of their  ‘cut-off date’, they can no longer decrease the guarantee number without a charge. Or, if the rooms have not been reserved by a ‘Cut-Off  date’, they can be released for general sale.  

Incidentals

Refers to minor or miscellaneous expenses, other than room and tax rates, that are billed to a guest’s accounts in a hotel.

Force Majeure Clause

This clause is included in most venue contracts to prevent the facility from being held liable should it not be able to hold up to their end of the agreement due to circumstances that are not within the venue’s control. These circumstances include events such as a natural disaster or other ‘Acts of God’.

Meeting Package

Typically offered by hotels or larger restaurant establishments, this all-inclusive package priced per person includes the room rental, catering (lunch or tea breaks) and a/v equipment. Options are available for both half-day and full-day depending on the event needs.

EVENT & CATERING TERMS

Destination Management Company (DMC)

A professional services company possessing extensive local knowledge and expertise for event planners from out-of-town to assist with the planning and execution of business events. They are able to plan itineraries, venue sourcing, transportation, tours, activities, dining and accommodation for groups.

Professional Conference Organiser (PCO)

Companies or individuals specialising in organising events on behalf of a client organisation for larger scale MICE events. They are able to assist with venue sourcing, registration, marketing, content creation and execution of events.

Certified Meeting Professional (CMP)

An internationally recognised certification program for professionals in the meeting, convention, and exhibition industries, awarded by the Convention Industry Council (CIC) based in the United States.

Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB)

An organization that represents a specific destination and promotes the economic development. It offers information to meeting planners, travel agents, and visitors including news, event calendars, lists of suppliers, and a directory of accommodation. These organisations may be privately owned and supported by a group of MICE organisations or be part of the city’s government. 

SECB: Singapore Exhibition and Convention Bureau

The official CVB of Singapore and part of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) , SECB is the lead government agency for business events in Singapore and provides planning, bid assistance and marketing support to international organisers hosting MICE events in Singapore. 

SACEOS: Singapore Association of Convention, Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers

The industry trade association for MICE in Singapore was founded in 1979 and is the representative voice of the industry. SACEOS works closely with the related government agencies: Singapore Tourism Board and Enterprise Singapore.

ACTE: Association of Corporate Travel Executives

As a global association, ACTE is comprised of executive-level members in more than 100 countries and has a 30-year reputation for pioneering educational and technological advances that make business travel productive, cost-effective, and seamless.

PCMA: Professional Convention Management Association

With more than 7,000 members and an audience of 50,000 individuals, PCMA claims to be the world’s largest network of business event strategists. Headquartered in Chicago, PCMA was established in 1956 and has been dedicated to driving global economic and social transformation through business events. PCMA acquired the Incentive Conference & Event Society Asia-Pacific(ICESAP) in 2017 to form the PCMA-ICEAP regional headquarters based in Singapore. 

UFI: The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry

UFI is the association of the world’s leading trade show organizers and fairground owners, as well as the major national and international exhibition associations, and selected partners of the exhibition industry. UFI directly represents around 50,000 exhibition industry employees globally, and also works closely with its 55 national and regional association members.

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