Over the last two years, the events industry has been faced with things that we’ve never had to deal with before – so it’s a little tricky to make prediction on how businesses are going to approach their end of year celebrations and any impact this may have on Christmas party venues in London.
That said, venue finding experts at Venue Search London, who booked over £1.5m of Christmas parties into London venues in the 2019 season, have outlined some early booking patterns that may indicate how the corporate Christmas party season may go within the all-important return to live events.
Testing, testing, testing
Although it is still uncertain whether Covid passports will be used for domestic events, it does look likely that people will carry these for their long-awaited trips overseas. This indicates that there may be requirements to provide proof of vaccination or negative lateral flow tests on the return to the office environment, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see this policy extended to off-site socials.
The end of the line for the buffet
The buffet has been a staple food service offering for informal dining for decades, but many of us will not be too sad to see the end of the buffet queue. Current regulations and perceived risks of cross-contamination are putting an end to the buffet setup, caterers instead focusing on innovative new ways to deliver informal food offerings: bento boxes, well-spaced canape trays, bowl food.
More entertainment, but less dancing
For event bookers, the packed dancefloor remains a distant memory for the time being. Whilst many of us may find ourselves attending busy bars, weddings or nightclubs before the end of the summer – with many fears therefore subsided – it is possible that event organisers may wish for an easing back into social event programmes. After-dinner entertainment is shifting, with comedy slots and other stage performances replacing the end-of-evening dancing. This is likely to impact finish times for events, too, with 10-11pm finishes likely which may be popular with hosts and/or guests after an unusual year.
The return of the Christmas lunch
In keeping with the shift in after-dinner entertainment practices, a resurgence of daytime events reflects increasing awareness of work/life balance and growing company responsibilities around wellbeing. This would not only reduce alcohol intake and enable attendees to get home earlier; it’s also anticipated that Fridays will become the favoured day for these lunch events – many of which will include live comedy or other on-stage entertainment.
Mixing business with pleasure
For many companies, the Christmas event may be the first time the whole company is reunited in the same room for two years, and business leaders may well feel that combining a conference and/or internal awards with a lunch or dinner is a more suitable return to social events than the full-on party format. For evening events, this may lean towards a 3pm start, with the business element leading into a dinner, with a 10pm finish.
Whatever the chosen London Christmas party format, the booking patterns for 2021 end of year celebrations will be like no other.
Whilst some companies have already got events booked due to postponements from 2020, others are booking now to secure their preferred dates. Many decision-makers are awaiting greater confidence and clarity in the roadmap to recovery dates and restrictions before making a final call on their plans for this December.