Businesses team up for New Year's parties

December 30, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Given the recent layoffs, this is perhaps not the year for over-the-top New Year's celebrations, which makes for a tough-sell for the hospitality industry. They're trying to desperately to lure people out for Wednesday night to start the New Year.

San Francisco's hospitality industry is trying to keep last year's party alive.

"Our friends in the industry, not only at Fishermen's Warf, but local hotels and restaurants are a little bit soft," said Claire Sherwood, the Hornblower Cruises General Manager.

So Hornblower Cruises lowered its New Years Eve prices and it's offering an open bar. So far 900 of its 2,000 seats on the San Francisco Belle are sold. They're happy about it.

"I'd say on the normal evenings, our normal dinner cruises, they have soften up a bit. I think people are saving up for the big event," said Sherwood.

Tough economic times call for creative marketing tactics. That's why Hornblower Cruises is teaming up with other local businesses to keep each other afloat.

The "Cruise and Snooze" package includes a dinner cruise and a night at the Hyatt. This year, the Embarcadero Hyatt isn't even hosting the New Year's Eve party that used to accommodate 4,000 to 5,000 people.

"My best friend and I will just hang out and go to a bar. Probably won't do dinner or anything, just something casual," said Troy Coalman, from San Francisco.

Hospitality experts believe the average partygoer is cutting back this year.

"My best friend doesn't have a job right now, so what we do together I have to pay for," said Coalman.

But high end revelers are still shelling out. The cost is $185 per person, at the Epic Roasthouse and Waterbar. They're sold out for Wednesday night.

"It's New Year's Eve. You know, go out. Let's all pray for a better New Year and a more prosperous New Year's," said Maggie Moore, a San Francisco resident.

In the past, businesses didn't have to hustle as much, in one of the nation's top tourist destinations, but 2009 could ring in a new attitude.


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