Strong economy fuels lavish corporate Christmas parties

A stronger economy seems to be bringing back lavish corporate Christmas parties in Calgary.

Venues kept busy as companies embrace the spirit of big spending

David Woodward, the director of sales and marketing at the Fairmont Palliser, says the hotel is doing a booming business in Christmas celebrations this year. (CBC)

A stronger economy seems to be bringing back lavish corporate Christmas parties in Calgary.

According to David Woodward, the director of sales and marketing at the Fairmont Palliser — one of Calgary’s swankiest hotels, companies have bigger budgets for this year’s celebrations.

"I think we’re seeing more companies are getting back to the traditional level of spending that they had pre-recession and I think that seems to be continuing on now as the economy gets stronger,” he said.

“And that is fueled by energy, financial companies, infrastructure around the oil and gas business, pipeline, drilling, those types of businesses.”

Woodward says he has noticed a trend this year of departments within companies wanting to book smaller parties in addition to the full corporate events.

Partygoers are also drinking more, he said.

“Our guests seem to be driving the elevator home this year more than they have in the past, and taking advantage of inexpensive room rates on the weekends and staying in the hotel and making it a night out,” he said.

One of the largest corporate Christmas parties in Calgary this year might be the one for WestJet's employees.

The airline is throwing a Wizard of Oz-themed party Saturday for 2,300 guests at the Telus Convention Centre.

But today's parties are still less flashy than they were in the 1990s, said Keri Miller, who runs e=mc2 events.

“Anywhere from Colin James to Barenaked Ladies. They used to bring in different acts to show their employees that they loved them. And now they're asking us to create that same experience without the show,” she said.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly said WestJet was having its party at the Telus Spark science centre. The party is at the Telus Convention Centre.
    Dec 05, 2013 12:08 PM MT

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