Five-star venues suffer as the office Christmas party is downgraded to a braai in the office park

…economic fears see businesses trim events and party budgets

Hotels and restaurants are reporting a lag in bookings as corporate clients slash budgets and either eliminate or plan budget year-end events.

Liza van Wyk, CEO of management and business support training organisation, BizTech – which is giving all food left over from their office Christmas party this week to children’s cancer organisation CHOC said: “One client, which enjoys a multi-million rand turnover has this year replaced office parties at five-star venues with braais in the gardens of the office park. They see it as bad for their cost-cutting image for the year ahead to splurge on events when everyone has been told to trim expenditure.”

Its part of a growing trend as corporate finance departments tighten the reins on expenditure as global financial markets buck and bend. “We have our own conference venue but knowing that welfare organisations are experiencing hard times we decided to give all left over foods and decorations to CHOC. We already make daily food donations to them but wanted to extend that. We know from our corporate clients that some have eliminated end of year events this year or have severely curtailed budgets.”

Van Wyk says that BizTech’s course Masterminding the Perfect Business Function or Event is consistently popular at the end of a year with office parties but then again early in the year as conferences and trade shows begin and companies begin mapping budgets and strategies. “The effective management of a function or event is particularly important in this tight economic environment where events have to give maximum quality at minimum cost.”

“A lot of the outcomes of a Christmas party or any business function or event has to do with the planning,” Liza van Wyk, CEO of BizTech said.

And so the function or event planned also feeds into company strategy questions would be raised about a health food company that served fizzy drinks with hot dogs swathed in tomato sauce.

“Our Perfect Business Function or Event course gives organisers the essential know-how regardless of whether they are organising a mega-event with global impact, such as the Soccer World Cup, a trade show at a convention centre or a small dinner the CEO wants to have for key guests.”

Too often, however, planning is left to a junior personal assistant who quickly becomes overwhelmed and who may not be aware of some of the essentials necessary for a key event. “We suggest that a SWOT analysis is helpful before planning an event and in it organisers should consider SMART which is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timebound,” van Wyk says.

“In assessing objectives organisers need to understand staff ability, detailed specialist knowledge or lack of, reputation, venue, transport, financial returns, and then aspects such as economic, social, cultural, political or legal, technological, demographic, meteorological and competitive factors. For example, it is disastrous to host a function in a beautiful mountain venue but with lots of steps if some of the delegates have walking disabilities or are in wheelchairs.”

Van Wyk says that marketing an event is not just about getting people in through the door, “it is essential that their expectations are met and they leave feeling satisfied. Marketing views the entire business process as consisting of a tightly integrated effort to discover, create, arouse and satisfy consumer needs. The marketing mix is made up of price, product, place and promotion.

“Customer satisfaction in terms of pricing includes convenience, security, credit card acceptance, speed, simplicity and effective use of technology. Events require close attention to cash flow, negotiate discounts or trade barters and closely control purchasing.”

Van Wyk said that end of year Christmas parties would be far less lavish this year for most companies. “This might not be a bad idea because often end of year parties can be career suicide for those who design them and those who attend them and they can be business-loss accelerators for those who witness them.

“Take the top car hire company that hired out a restaurant last year, staff attended in uniform leaving no doubt as to who employed them, but it was when some started vomiting in toilets after over-imbibing and one started stripping atop a liquor strewn table that other guests started complaining.” Bev Riemer, a management trainer BizTech says, “I will never again use that company, their advertising depicts them as a company of style and distinction, but their staff behaved like louts.”

It is at many Christmas parties that once-promising careers meet a swift end when the management whizz-kid shows he can’t retain his liquor or the new head of a division blatantly tries to seduce a younger subordinate.

BizTech’s Perfect Business Function or Event over two intense days gives organisers the capacity to effectively develop the event concept, help enhance networking at the event, know the correct business etiquette, arrange catering and cleaning, running the event and closedown as well as other fine tuning techniques. “It’s essential to ensure neither time, money nor reputation is wasted,” van Wyk said.



LIZA VAN WYK, CEO, BIZTECH 082 466 8975 or 0861 249 8324 or

Issued by MediaOnLine or 011 646 7637