Holiday parties get cut back due to economy

December 4, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Your 401K isn't the only victim of the current economic downturn. The holiday party is also becoming a relic since many corporations have canceled them. Others like Google are downsizing. San Francisco businessman Gordon Getty cancelled a big soiree on Treasure Island.

"I think we're getting fewer calls right now," says Gatti.

San Francisco's premier party event and environment planner Stanley Gatti is feeling the pinch.

"When people stop spending money, especially those who still have it, it affects everybody," says Gatti.

He's designed some of the most celebrated parties in the country. Now his direction is changing.

"People's lives don't 100 percent change. There are still people out there who can afford someone to come in and decorate their house for Christmas," says Gatti.

It's the corporate business where the hits are coming, with smaller parties and none at all. Nationwide, company holiday parties have hit a 20-year low.

Cancellation of holiday parties certainly have a trickle-down effect, from food, beverage, entertainment, and many more. Hotels like the Fairmont in San Francisco are offering incentives to gets customers here.

"I think people are looking for value right now. We're responding to that by offering packages," says Samara Diapoulos, with the Fairmont Hotel.

Like rooms for $199 a night with drink credit. If companies are scaling back, it seems individuals are not.

"We're finding that people are still having parties, which is a good thing, and we're finding people are being creative about parities," says Diapoulos.

Whether it's a small group in a landmark room or the exclusive pricey penthouse, the Fairmont is being used four to five times a week for holiday parties. Their New Years Eve reservations are up over last year and their two-story-high gingerbread house are drawing visitors. For people in this business, it's a time to tough it out.

"I will do everything I can. I will sell my Vespa if I have to, just to maintain my staff during this difficult time because they are like family," says Gatti.

"As Auntie Mame said we need a little Christmas right this very minute," says Diapoulos.


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