Why do clients need to pay for vendor meals to eat at events?

I always find it interesting when a client asks me this question. It is most often because I know that at my husband’s corporate office, the employees bring their own lunch unless it is a special event (to which a big deal is made). If they find that they will not be in their office over lunch time, they figure out a way to make themselves fat and happy. Now, don’t get me wrong when I say “who would not like to have an amazing dinner” and not pay for it. Just look at the photos below for a little bit of heaven.  I know that I am quite capable of bringing my own breakfast, lunch and dinner to an event and have done in the past.

What I find most interesting is that it is written into contracts. I find myself at a loss to explain to the client that “Oh,  you have to purchase 10 vendor meals in addition to your guest count”. Then, I have to itemize out who those people are. Then, the next question to arise is ” If that person is only going to be there from 5-11pm, can’t they eat before or bring their dinner with them?” It is truly a logical statement. It really is. The conversation then will lead into ” And I have to  greenroom needs to have bottle temp water, gardenias, 2 gluten free, 2 dairy free and 6 carnivore only plates for the cavemen in our group. So, NOW, we are accommodating everyone’s dietary issues (medical or just perhaps the fad of the year)?”. My response then reverts back to “Yes, it is in the contract. We can select another vendor if you would like to do so”. That goes down another rabbit hole of hell if we do that.

After all these years, I understand that the industry has come to this. I have appreciated that caterers offer a lesser per head price (and I know vendors need to appreciate the dreaded boxed lunch), but I feel we can do better. Perhaps we can reevaluate the time we are there, or be aware of the meal requests we have, or the caterer could be a bit more creative with the vendor meal selection. I don’t really know where to go with it, but I do know the conversations with the clients never change. As vendors, we might be a bit more cognizant of everyone’s role and how we can do better.