It may be the season for a whole lot of cheer and partying, but once again the pandemic has put a pause on both for some.
Hotel Arts, in the heart of Calgary’s downtown, has opened the door for corporate parties but it appears many businesses remain closed to the idea.
“We had a fully booked holiday season and then the cases started to rise,” the hotel’s associate director of sales, Elena Menk told Global News.
Since then bookings have rebounded somewhat but Menk said that bounce back has been small compared to previous years.
“People are eager to meet, eager to celebrate but they’re trying to do it on a smaller scale,” she said. “Meaning instead of gathering as an office or an entire company hosting 600, 700 or 800 people — we’re seeing departments getting together.”
Menk added parties are now usually capped at 40 to 60 invited guests.
“What the difference is, is the size and the number of events. Not everyone is still comfortable to meet in person,” Menk added.
Local event rental company, Modern Rentals, has heard the same thing from many of its clients.
“There’s a group of people that just want this to be over or want to get back to doing what they were doing before. And there’s a group of people that are still nervous,” owner Scott Henuset said.
That hesitation for widespread in-person events continues to be a drag on Henuset’s business. One event booked for this upcoming spring has already seen its size reduced by 25 per cent.
As for holiday events, a lot of the company’s inventory continues to sit idle in its massive warehouse.
“Instead of sending four, five-ton trucks full of gala event décor, we’re sending one. One truck,” Henuset said.
“Nobody wants to be that person that causes an outbreak or does something because they wanted to have fun and ends up wrecking a family.”
Still, the Calgary business owner has seen some, albeit small, rebound in bookings and he’s grateful considering the hit the entire industry took in 2020.
“The whole event industry was decimated for a long period of time.”
Hotel Arts has put in several safeguards for the parties it’s helping host this holiday season. Menk said the hotel is following all of the restrictions and COVID-19 protocols, plus it’s also put in a new system.
“We also have a special system on site where we implemented special bracelets,” Menk said. “So essentially once you provided all the necessary documents, you’re able to enter the event space and you will have your bracelet on so we don’t have to triple check or do multiple checks for the same person.”
It’s hoped these precautions will lead to less hesitation in the future — a future they remain cautiously hopeful about.
“We are really really excited for the smaller, but still a holiday season this year. And hopefully next year we’ll be back to normal.”
–with files from Adam Toy, Global News