Christmas parties canned in latest COVID insult

 

At the end of a year full of shocks and heartache, the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed its final victim of 2020 - the corporate Christmas party.

For years a bastion of legendary shenanigans, corporate Christmas parties will this year be significantly less newsworthy than they have been in the past.

Flight Centre, the travel group which holds Queensland's most outlandish corporate party, will have a more subdued event this year.

Flight Centre chief executive Graham 'Skroo' Turner said the major party, usually a gathering of employees from around the world, would be cancelled this year.

Flight Centre made headlines with a Christmas party that involved an indoor slip and slide. Picture: Supplied
Flight Centre made headlines with a Christmas party that involved an indoor slip and slide. Picture: Supplied

"We're still trying to have a zero travel and entertainment expense," he said.

However, Mr Turner revealed the group would still hold its famed slip 'n' slide - which drew national attention in 2014 when an employee - a man of small stature - was injured while riding and taken to hospital.

Mr Turner, whose own personal fortune has been smashed by COVID-19, is optimistic for 2021.

"If the domestic borders stay open and the vaccinations take hold then things are looking a lot more positive," he said.

The travel behemoth has been hit harder by COVID-19 than any other major Queensland company, except for Virgin Australia.

Virgin will celebrate the end of 2020 - its worst year on record after plunging into administration in April - in a less than noteworthy way.

The company will not hold a corporate party, but an airline spokesman insisted its employees were in the festive spirit.

"We do encourage our frontline team members to decorate and spread Christmas cheer at airports and onboard our aircraft throughout the festive season," he said.

Domino's pizza chief executive Don Meij said his company was still working through its plans for the end-of-year party after a bumper year.

"We're hopeful that we can still come together in some capacity to commemorate what's been an incredibly challenging year," he said.

The Hamilton-headquartered pizza empire has thrived during COVID-19, increasing its profit 18 per cent to $121m.

"We were privileged to continue operating throughout the pandemic and doing what we do best - safely delivering hot meals to those that need them most," Mr Meij said.

"While we anticipate that we'll be living with COVID for a while yet, we hope that 2021 will throw a fewer curve balls and see the world return to some level of normalcy.

Hutchinson Builders director Jack Hutchinson Jr said this year's Christmas party, usually a huge affair, would be quiet.

"Coming together to celebrate with our people at the end of the year is typically a big part of Hutchies' culture, but of course this year has changed how we normally do things," he said.

"We aren't having a company-wide party but instead many of our offices and teams are having small gatherings.

"In Brisbane, we intend on hosting an outdoor BBQ on our break-up day which will be a quarter of its usual size - It's really important to us to still do something even if it's different to other years because it's a way of saying thanks to our people for their hard work."

Suncorp, Queensland's largest company with a market cap of $12.9bn, will forgo its corporate get-together in favour of smaller, informal gatherings.

"Suncorp's end of year celebrations vary each year and this year we will not be hosting formal parties," a company spokeswoman said.

"It has been great to see teams reconnect after a challenging year as our people have been returning to our CBD offices."

 

Originally published as Christmas parties canned in latest COVID insult


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