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Corporate Holiday Parties Are Great Morale Builders

While Some Companies May Eliminate Parties, Others Shift Planning Approaches

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If there’s one thing that’s consistent over time among employers during the year end holiday season it’s this: the vast majority of organizations hold an annual holiday party for their employees.

More than 85% of businesses will host such a party in 2007, according to results of the 2007 Battalia Winston (BW) Annual Survey of Corporate Holiday Celebrations . BW is an international search firm headquartered in New York City, and the firm has been surveying employers about their annual parties since 1988.

But many organizations are looking carefully at how they are approaching the annual holiday party. In fact, 19% of respondents to the BW 2007 survey indicated that the current market conditions such as subprime crisis and the weak housing have impacted planning decisions.

To be sure, for those companies hosting a year end holiday party, event planners are in an excellent position to advise their employers and clients about strategies to reduce holiday party expenses that still result in great celebrations.

Fewer Holiday Parties in 2007

Even though 85% of employers may seem like a high number, this is actually a drop of about 9% vs. 2006 when 94% held events. A historical look at trend results finds that only two years when fewer employers hosted holiday parties:

  • 83% in 2001 (post 9/11)
  • 82% in 1991 (recessionary year)

These results reinforce what many event planners already recognize: most employers remain interested in hosting an annual holiday party. That’s a given. These events are generally cost effective and are great morale builders. But other noticeable trends may be found from an analysis of the BW study over time.

More Companies Shifting to Lunch Holiday Events

According to 2007 survey results, 54% of companies expect to hold an evening event while 46% will be held during lunch. This trend toward daytime events has been growing over time:

  • 40% held lunch parties in 2005
  • 27% held lunch parties in 2002
  • 34% held lunch parties in 2000
  • 29% held lunch parties in 1998

Such a shift to an afternoon event is one of several strategies that event planners are using help reduce holiday party expenses.

Holiday Party Alcohol Consumption Declines

The BW survey found that 70% of companies will serve alcohol in 2007. This is a significant reduction since the year 2000 when 90% of companies served alcohol at holiday events.

Of those companies today that are including alcohol, more than half are taking steps to help restrict alcohol consumption. Event planners are incorporating the following ideas:

  • 9% are limiting complimentary drink tickets
  • 13% are serving beer and wine only
  • 16% are closing the bar early
  • 20% are focusing the event on the meal

Additional Holiday Party Trends That Impact Planning

Some other findings from the 2007 survey that event planners should note include the following:
  • 76% are held off-site; 24% are held on-site
  • 10% provide general gift bags at holiday parties
  • 4% provide a cash bar
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