Office Christmas party rise boosts hospitality sector


It may not be the glory days of the Celtic Tiger when groups of noisy revellers racked up huge bar tabs toasting the good times, but the hospitality sector is reporting green shoots with a boost in corporate Christmas party bookings raising hopes of a recovery.

The Dublin Chamber of Commerce said there were “significant increases” in Christmas party bookings among its members this year. Some venues even had to turn away customers due to excessive demand.

“It has also been mentioned that businesses appear to be bringing more staff, whereas last year it might have been only senior management,” said spokesman Andrew Smyth.

Bookings at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel on Golden Lane in Dublin have “almost tripled” compared with last year, general manager Tim Whyte said.

“It’s fantastic. A number of people went through a stage of mourning after the recession and there were fewer people having parties when colleagues were being laid off at the same time,” he said.

“I think that has plateaued out now and people are back having them again and that’s a good sign because it shows people are gearing up for more positive things in 2013.”

However, he noted a trend towards more modest celebrations. “It’s moving away from the five-course meal with the free bar. It’s more of a buffet now. Certainly it’s nothing like what was experienced pre-recession. I imagine most of us thought [that] was never going to end back then. It’s a very sensible and appropriate party now.”

Bookings at the Stillorgan Park Hotel have doubled, according to general manager Daragh O’Neill. “It’s been really good: we’ve seen a huge increase on last year,” he said.

“During the boom years you would have had companies paying for everything but more and more now the cost is split between the companies and the employees.

“People still want to have the event but when the drinks aren’t included [companies] obviously spend less.”

Discretionary spending

Citywest Hotel in Saggart has recorded a 35 per cent increase in bookings. General manager Glenn Valentine said: “We would still see a big fall-off in beverage sales, however. So while food and party nights get better, discretionary spend would be heading south. More and more you will see that the days of the free drinks are gone and people are slow to spend the money they have in their pockets. They’re going home earlier and being a lot more frugal.”

The Guinness Storehouse has seen an increase of 20 per cent in bookings, according to spokesman Mark McGovern. In addition, more people are attending the parties.“Over the last number of years we have noticed a shift with companies wishing to run with a more informal type of event,” he said.