UK Companies Invest in Lavish Corporate Events to Lure Employees Back to the Office

Amidst a squeeze on the cost of living, the market for corporate parties and events is thriving, as businesses make concerted efforts to rebuild connections with their workforce.

Even in the face of the ongoing cost of living crisis affecting UK expenditure, British companies are reserving more corporate gatherings and social events than ever before. This revelation stems from fresh data provided by Poptop, the premier platform for booking corporate parties in the UK. As the lucrative Christmas party season approaches, the robust resurgence of corporate bookings post-COVID has led industry experts to question: could the events sector finally be staging a recovery?

The Striking Surge in Corporate Gatherings Few industries have felt the economic turbulence of recent years as acutely as the events sector. Following a near-complete shutdown of trading for nearly two years during the pandemic, the corporate and private events domain exhibited signs of recuperation, only for high inflation and the ‘cost of living’ challenge to once again dampen growth expectations. However, amidst this uncertainty, one facet of the events realm continues to flourish. Poptop, an online events marketplace, conducted an analysis of data from 423 of its corporate clients and unveiled an astonishing 68% upsurge in corporate bookings and staff parties compared to pre-pandemic levels.

The nature and timing of these thriving corporate events have notably evolved since the pre-COVID shutdown era. Buffet catering and bartender reservations witnessed a 40% decline in comparison to 2019, while event categories with a ‘family-friendly’ orientation, such as barbecues, children’s entertainers, and magicians, experienced an almost 100% spike in corporate bookings. Events are now frequently scheduled on short notice, with corporate get-togethers often being arranged mere weeks or even days before the actual event. The question that arises is: why, in the midst of market volatility, is the corporate events industry thriving?

A Paradigm Shift in Workplace Thinking It is no secret that remote and hybrid work arrangements have surged in popularity over the past few years, initially driven by necessity and later fueled by employees’ quest for a balanced work-life equilibrium. However, many businesses are eager to entice their employees back to shared office spaces. Prominent business figures like Elon Musk, Tim Cook, and James Dyson have openly criticised hybrid work models, perhaps reflecting a shifting sentiment among senior management.

Nevertheless, the reality is that UK workforces need to be motivated to return to office spaces on a full-time basis. Consequently, some HR departments view this as an opportunity to underscore the value of corporate life. Events centred around families that bring employees together, as well as impromptu surprise events for staff, serve as potent reminders that the office offers more than just managerial oversight. It also provides employees with a chance to overcome the isolation and digital fatigue associated with remote work, and to forge genuine connections with colleagues – an aspect nearly impossible to achieve via video calls.

Prioritising Employee Well-being At this juncture, it is challenging to determine whether this corporate charm offensive is effectively coaxing employees back into the office. Irrespective of the outcome, these new corporate events confer additional advantages to both businesses and their employees. The challenges of the past years have unquestionably taken a toll on employee well-being and overall business productivity levels. Extra corporate events and team-building exercises can exert a substantial and enduring impact on employee contentment, reinvigorating team morale in the process.

Moreover, there is an external benefit. Savvy sales teams are recognising that clients are equally eager to step away from their screens, and stand-alone networking events offer an excellent opportunity for this. In a landscape saturated with online marketing that can be costly, businesses can truly differentiate themselves by organising in-person events for their clients, thereby fostering enduring connections.

A Bright Future for the Events Industry Regardless of the rationale underpinning this surge in corporate bookings, its reverberations are being felt profoundly across the broader events sector. Industry confidence is on an ascending trajectory, showing no signs of abating. Thanks to the corporate segment, it appears that the events industry is at last regaining a solid footing.

“In 2023, we have witnessed an exponential rise in popularity for corporate events and parties. While hybrid work arrangements have become commonplace for numerous companies, business leaders are actively seeking novel ways to keep team members engaged with the company’s values, motivated, and to foster communication among them. We are no exception – with almost all our team members adopting a ‘hybrid’ approach, we perceive a significant opportunity to bring everyone together for enjoyable and interactive events. This offers an excellent chance to share recent developments, discuss company objectives, and simply revel in each other’s company!”

Eugene Shestopal, CEO, Poptop UK



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