A muted sense of celebration prevails over the city as people prepare to bid farewell to 2021. Traditionally a time for large (and ticketed) late-night parties, the year seems to be ending on a more reflective and introverted note.
Part of this is due to many hotels in the city cancelling large gatherings due to the pandemic. But part of it may also be a change in public tastes, say those in the hospitality and event management sector.
“The restrictions on international flights and reduced tourism had already affected the city’s hotels. We were expecting to bounce back with the year-end festive season, but the new variant (Omicron) has forced us to put off events,” S. Ramesh, operations manager, Hotel Grand Gardenia, told The Hindu . “We have to wait and see how the Government responds, in order for us to move ahead.”
The downtime had also given many hotels an opportunity to upgrade their facilities, he added. “There is a demand for high quality hotels in Tiruchi, because it is a hub for regional tourism. We hope more luxury properties will enter the city in the near future,” Mr. Ramesh said.
The decline in social gatherings has helped to create a market for parties with a more personal touch. Event management companies have stepped in to curate events for limited groups of people. “The volume of home-based functions among families has increased during the pandemic. Corporate clients have also cut down their budget for these occasions,” said Sudhakar Mahadevan, managing partner, Kreativ India, an advertising agency whose event management wing handles birthday and wedding parties.
He added that event organisers now tend to outsource elements like catering and waitstaff because it is more economical than maintaining an in-house team of employees. Customers also are looking for a simpler and more eco-friendly celebration.
“But we would prefer to see this as a transitory change; things will rebound eventually,” he said.
For JustnFlair, that specialises in surprise celebrations for personal occasions, being unique is important. “People from the age of 18 to 35 years approach us for ideas that are not being done elsewhere. A traditional gathering in a hall or hotel is formal – we inject some fun and unexpected happiness into our events,” said planner Mohamed Naveeth.
However, some people remain determined to see the year out with a bang. “The pandemic and fears of Omicron have certainly diluted the mood, but people are still hoping to have a good time on New Year’s Eve,” said R. Natarajan, Food and Beverages manager, Ramyas Hotels.
“Since we adopted pandemic operating procedures early on, we are hosting our annual festive season buffets and a New Year gala dinner at our restaurants with special menus and musical entertainment for families,” he said.