Swift brings the curtain down on Sibos party

Swift brings the curtain down on Sibos party

Ending a long-standing tradition, financial messaging network Swift is pulling the plug on its iconic end-of-Sibos party as it looks to rein in costs ahead of this year's event in Hong Kong.

The legendary Thursday night party that marked the end of a week of intense networking and debate at the annual Swift banking conference has been deemed surplus to requirements in the current depressed economic environment.

Amid vendor grumbles about price hikes for exhibition space and fears of a low turn-out from hard-pressed European and US delegates, Swift has moved to cut costs and reduce ticket prices for Sibos in Hong Kong in September.

Registration for the event opened this week, with participant passes priced at EUR2000, a cut of EUR200 over the cost of a week-long delegate ticket in 2007. The banking co-operative is also promising savings of up to 20% on the cost of official Sibos hotels as it bids to entice participants to take time out from their desks and spend a working week debating the big industry issues in Hong Kong.

Sibos typically attracts up to 6000 participants and more than 200 vendors to the annual shindig, and is usually sold out of exhibition space by the time registration opens. But, after a wave of bank mergers and bail-outs and big cuts in technology budgets and frivolous entertainment expenses, exhibition stand sales at this year's show are approximately 25% down on last year.

Swift doesn't break down the costs of running Sibos year-on-year, but catering for a lavish party for some 6000 hard-drinking delegates is understood to ring up a bill of close to £1 million before venue hire and associated logistical costs kick in. Last year's event was staged at the Imperial Hofburg Palace in Vienna, and featured ballroom dancing, disco, karaoke, live music and cabaret spread out across two floors of the imposing 13th century residence.

In a statement to participants, Swift says it has conducted a thorough review of all aspects of the Sibos event. "We have asked tough questions about what really matters to you and negotiated hard with our suppliers. We've taken every opportunity to increase the value of the event while identifying ways to trim costs and pass the resulting savings on to you."

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