Restaurants and hotels stung by more 2009 holiday party cuts

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As businesses settle into a newfound frugality in the recession era, holiday parties are increasingly becoming a thing of the past. For many companies who cut their 2008 parties in the wake of the Lehman Brothers collapse, the lavish, open-bar affairs won’t yet return, and for others who held steady on their celebrations last year, they are now resigning to the severity of the times. This year, only 62 percent of companies nationwide will hold holiday parties, according to a survey by Challenger Gray & Christmas. In 2008, 77 percent of companies held holiday parties, and in 2007 that number was 90 percent. The decision to scale back isn’t necessarily influenced by a business’ bottom line. Firms in the financial sector are especially concerned about the perception of corporate excess. A Bank of America spokeperson said a holiday party “would not be appropriate.” The change of heart is cutting into restaurant and hotel businesses: they say their private party business is down roughly 20 percent this year, even compared to a crushing 2008. Many are offering up incentives to try to lure companies back in to the market.

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