For the host country of the Olympics, the advantages extend beyond displaying their athletic abilities. The Olympics present the opportunity for the host to improve their infrastructures and boost their economy, the effects of which can be felt for years after the Games have ended. Businesses in particular will often see an increase in revenue and brand awareness. However, many firms have found that the number of sales and level of customer satisfaction will remain stagnant or decline throughout the Games if careful preparation isn’t implemented well before the Opening Ceremonies.
What Can We Learn from Vancouver 2010?The 2010 Winter Olympics resulted in significant growth in British Columbia in the number of new businesses, jobs and an increase in visitor spending according to a study by the University of British Columbia. Research by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) estimated that Olympic coverage reached approximately 3.8 billion people worldwide and incremental tourism spending of £288 million ($455 million CND) in British Columbia resulted directly from hosting the Games.
Despite the fact that 78% of businesses in British Columbia saw the Olympics as an opportunity to gain business prior to the Games, investigation by BT Global Research showed that 38% of private sector firms acknowledged that they could have done more to take fuller advantage of the business opportunities. Over 23% of firms experienced issues with their network capacity during the Olympic Games as a result of the sudden surge in demand.
London 2012So what does that mean for London with the 2012 Olympics just around the corner? The UK government has been hard at work with preparations, with new buildings to accommodate the events and flood of tourists. The city of London has been enhancing its transportation and will offer Wi-Fi in its Underground and Overground stations.
In late March, the president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacque Rogge, praised London for its preparations thus far. “London has raised the bar on how to deliver a lasting legacy,” he said. The UK government has made huge strides in developing the infrastructure to handle the hosting responsibilities, and Rogge stated he’s pleased that the Games appear to be on time and budget.
But What About UK Businesses?To make the most of the Games, businesses would ideally already have a plan in place and begun to implement activities to prepare. A survey conducted by BT found that it should take a company about 18 months to be fully prepared for the Olympics. According to BT Business, by January 2012, 15% of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) said they were already involved in London 2012 in some way. Of those, 58% were supplying products or services directly to the organisers.
But if you have a business that hasn’t started preparations, you still have time to prepare yourself to a certain degree – if you start now. There are a few basics to making sure the traffic and sales flow: ensure your business has great and clear signage, and can be found easily both online and offline. Also, make sure you’re handicap accessible. The Paralympic Games will likely bring in a large percentage of disabled visitors and accessible tourism is estimated to be worth £2 billion in England alone.
One major method to bring more people through your doors – offer Wi-Fi. Visitors will want to share their experiences through Facebook, Twitter and email as they’re happening and businesses with Internet service will attract more customers. Even if that’s not the right solution for your business, ensure your IT department is ready for anything. Have contingency plans in place should your Internet service go down due to bandwidth congestion and cyberslacking, or employees are unable to get to work because of heavy traffic.
As a final note, make sure you’re ready for those who prey on the Olympics. Spam, malware and fraud infected the World Cup in 2010 and there are already indications that the 2012 Olympics could suffer similarly. If you prepare now, you’ll be able to avoid these attempts to take away from the magic of the Games. Even better, the Olympics will provide an avenue for tremendous business growth and profit.
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