When showings are few as they are here currently in Colorado Springs, many agents will try to entice colleagues to view a property by providing some sort of cuisine that would peak the interest of the masses. The intent is to market the home to active agents within the community that might have a potential buyer, to gain feedback from colleagues on condition and price to present to the seller, and to show sellers they are going above and beyond the average agent because quite frankly the opinion of many is that it provides nothing more than free lunches to the masses.
For the newer agents out there, you might ask, "what is a broker open and how are they done?" My suggestion is to visit a few and get ideas on the creativity of fellow agents. Usually in Colorado Springs we have them at lunch and serve either some sort of catered dish (can be costly), a home cooked dish such as today's green chili chicken tortilla casserole with tortilla chips, or a BBQ outdoors. You can have progressive ones with other agents serving parts of a meal and dessert at a couple of homes but I suggest no more than 3. The happy hour opens will usually have wine and cheese platters or beer and chips but I prefer to not have the liability of alcoholic beverages and agents mixed! If the property is not within a mile or two of an office then be prepared to offer drawings for gift cards.
Bring your own supply of plastic silverware, napkins, plates, serving spoons, bottled water, and garbage bags. Have feedback forms ready along with flyers on the home. Everything you bring in- you remove including garbage and leave the home spotless for clients. Start sending out emails and putting up flyers in offices 4 days prior so agents know to leave that time frame open. Be very careful offering items that stain carpets. I visited one that served chocolate chip cookies in a million dollar listing with white carpet- disaster.
Creativity will keep the cost minimal, the interest high, and the goal of getting solid feedback optimum. Be prepared for honest feedback- agents can be brutally honest but then sellers sometimes need to hear it from someone other than their agent. It does have the potential to connect a buyer with a property but more likely the end result will be good honest price change suggestions or staging suggestions.
So are they worth the time, effort, and cost? If showings are few and sellers are cooperative and motivated then I would say yes they are worth the effort. If sellers are testing the market, expressing the deal breaker fixed dollar mentality, selling a vacant home without utilities, or not cooperating with prep suggestions, then I would say it would be time, money, and energy wasted on a no win situation for return on investment for the agent.