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Planning for the 2012 Olympics: Marketing

By Becky Paskin, 15-Jul-2011

Related topics: Business, Events & Awards, Restaurants, Hotels, Pubs & Bars, Olympics, Planning for the 2012 Olympics

Once you’ve made yourself aware of what’s happening during the 2012 London Olympic Games (by reading our first feature in this series) you need to decide how you’re going to use the event to boost your business’s profile.

Before you set off dreaming up creative marketing activities, remember this is all about going the long haul. Oxford Economics expects 54 per cent of the tourism benefits of the Games to be generated in the four years after the event has finished, with the event itself generating just 31 per cent.

The Olympic Games run for just two weeks, as do the Paralympic Games at the end of August, so any benefit to businesses in that period will be short-lived unless operators prepare their activity and marketing strategy over a minimum six-year period.

“This is all about playing the long game,” says Amy Crees, 2012 Games project manager at VisitBritain. “Businesses need to go for a long term approach in terms of building a brand, awareness, getting great media coverage and capitalising on that afterwards.”

Target market

As a starting point, hotel, restaurant and pub operators should consider which market they wish to target during and after the Games, whether that be a local audience, national, international or global.

Of course the decision needs to be tailored to the location of your business (whether it’s near an Olympic venue, relay route or live site), the size of your business, what your current market is, and which additional markets will be interested in your operation.

For example, while Hilton has partnered with VisitBritain to promote its UK-based portfolio to its existing hotel markets around the world, a small independent pub in Oxfordshire may want to scale its strategy down for a more regional audience.

VisitBritain has profiled all its target countries with information on consumer behaviour, size of market, local media and travel trade on its website, VisitBritain.org , to help operators understand where and who they should focus on. You can find that information here.

“There are loads of different ways of getting involved, such as playing upon any sporting connections you have, any past or present staff who are also athletes or historical or cultural associations,” Crees suggests.

“But the ideal scenario is going to be winning business from big groups coming in during the Games time and there are a few big players in the market doing that.”

Package deals

Organisations such as Sportsmark, Sportsworld and Jetset specialise in putting together hospitality packages around major sporting events like the Olympics for corporate clients such as sponsors and the national Olympic committee.

“Make your product or service known to these organisations by contacting them and showing what you can offer. They’ll likely be looking for exceptional and special experiences for their clients, so make sure you can offer them something that meets their criteria.”

In addition, the CompeteFor business network lists all the Games-related contracts available, many of which may be outside of London itself. Businesses will need to register on the website to view all opportunities.

Operators can also approach the many listed Authorised Ticket Resellers (ATR), overseas companies that are given the power to put together ticket packages for their local markets, to offer their services to. A full list of these ATRs can be found here.

Not-for-profit

Aside from directly marketing your product or service to one of the big package organisations, operators may wish to look at non-commercial schemes run alongside the Olympic Games to promote their business.

Businesses that run their own activity or initiative ‘in the spirit of the Games’ and for non-commercial gain, can apply to have them recognised through the Inspire programme. The most ‘accessible, participative, inspiring and stimulating projects and events’ will be awarded the Inspire Mark.

“This scheme has the potential to generate great PR for businesses, and there are certain other advantages that come with that, such as the award of an Inspire Mark logo to use on their branding and premises. Some have shied away from this venture because it is non-commercial, but there’s great potential to generate buzz and positive PR around the event.”

Brand regulations

However, businesses wishing to publicise any activity or event in the run up to and during the Olympic Games, must be cautious about any promotional material that could be deemed to breach LOCOG’s strict branding regulations.

For instance, businesses that are not official partners of the 2012 London Olympic Games will not be allowed to use the brand’s logo or typeface.

Businesses may advertise facts about events running at their premises while the Games are on, but must be careful not to suggest any formal association with the Games.

They may also not run any special offers that are presented as being Olympic-related, e.g. Buy one get one free on Olympic cocktails. However general special offers made that will be attractive as much to Games-related visitors as anyone else are allowed, e.g. Half price rooms during the summer of 2012.

To help operators avoid any copyright pitfalls when creating events and offers, VisitBritain has created a set of brand protection guidelines that make vital reading.

“There’s a certain amount of common sense involved when it comes to guidelines," advised Crees. "We recognise that we need to give guidance to businesses but we are not the lawyers at LOCOG and cannot sign anything off as being acceptable. If businesses have any queries regarding their promotional material they should approach the legal team at LOCOG for a final sign off.”

LOCOG will produce an official notice/ poster ahead of the Games that businesses will be able to display at their premises during the Games promoting the televisual broadcast of live events.

To view all the features in this Planning for the 2012 Oympics series, click here