The current economic gloom has pushed local businesses to trim Christmas events and party budgets, management and business support training organisation, BizTech said on Monday.

Hotels and restaurants were reporting a lag in bookings as corporate clients either eliminated or planned budget year-end events.

"One client, which enjoys a multi-million rand turnover has in 2008 replaced office parties at five-star venues with braais in the gardens of the office park.

"They see it as bad for their cost-cutting image for the year ahead to splurge on events when everyone has been told to trim expenditure," said BizTech's chief executive officer Liza van Wyk.

She said it was part of a growing trend of corporate finance departments tightening the reins on expenditure as global financial markets bucked and bent.

Van Wyk said planning for and management of events in tough economic times was essential.

"The effective management of a function or event is particularly important in this tight economic environment where events have to give maximum quality at minimum cost."

A lot of the outcomes of a Christmas party or any business function or event had to do with the planning.'

Van Wyk said that the function or event planned also fed into company strategy. For example, "questions would be raised about a health food company that served fizzy drinks with hot dogs swathed in tomato sauce".

Too often, planning was left to a junior personal assistant who quickly became overwhelmed, she said.

Van Wyk said that organisers needed to take into consideration staff ability, venue, transport, as well as aspects such as economic, social, cultural, political or legal, technological, demographic, meteorological and competitive factors.

For instance, it was disastrous to host a function at a beautiful mountain venue but with lots of steps if some of the delegates had walking disabilities or were in wheelchairs, she said. - Sapa