Tuesday, 20 September 2011

London's events legacy revealed at Beyond 2012

London’s events industry gathered at the BFI IMAX on 19 September to hear an update on legacy plans following the 2012 Olympic Games.

Three speakers representing the Mayor’s office, London & Partners and the Olympic Park Legacy Company briefed 500 delegates about the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s event spaces and the continued efforts to pitch for major sporting events beyond 2012, including the World Athletics Championships in 2017.

Clive Little, Director of Events and Programming at the Olympic Park Legacy Company said: “By 2016, we’re aiming to see more than 2,000 events held each year in the Park. The south end will have a real focus on sport and entertainment and include areas such as a 2,000sqm event lawn and possible temporary venue for exhibitions and conferences. In total, there’s potential for spaces of up to 60,000 capacity across the Park.”

Little added that the 3,500-seat Aquatic Centre could be transformed into a dry venue courtesty of rising floors which reduce the depth of water in the pool, and that the Orbit sculpture next to the Stadium could host events for up to 300 people on its viewing platforms. 

“In October, we’ll consult with the events sector and ask what they might want to do at the park so people are engaged in the plans,” Little continued. “While we’re still in the strategic planning phase, we can adapt our offer to suit the response.”

The Beyond 2012 event was hosted by Unique Venues of LondonLondon & Partners and the International Special Events Society

Iain Edmondson, Head of the Major Events Team at London & Partners discussed the capital’s plans to pitch for future sporting events and congresses. Then, Dan Ritterband, Mayor Boris Johnson’s Director of Marketing confirmed that the Mayor’s Office wholeheartedly supports the work being done to bring mayor events into the capial and is working on a funding model to ensure London remains competitive with other nations. 

To hear a snippet of Dan Ritterband’s address to delegates at Beyond 2012, click here

Limited edition London: What to expect in 2012

I was asked recently to write an advertorial for a Spanish consumer travel title on what to expect in the UK capital during 2012.

Seeing as the piece is being translated into Spanish, I thought I'd reproduce it for you here in its original written language form....

It’s a magical time to be in London. As the UK capital prepares to welcome the Greatest Show on Earth in the summer of 2012, the Olympic spirit can already be felt on every corner of every street.

An electric atmosphere of celebration and togetherness is building and London invites you to come and experience the city as you've never seen it before.

Attractions, hotels, bars and restaurants are rolling out the red carpet and visitors are about to discover a host of unique experiences that will only be available in the run up to the London 2012 Games.

From September through to June, London will be awash with festivals, exhibitions and major events that will bring colour, culture and creativity to these famous streets.

Before the world’s elite sportsmen and sportswomen go for gold in the Olympic Stadium, London will first celebrate The Queen’s Jubilee. After the spectacular wedding of her grandson earlier this year, it will be the turn of Her Majesty the Queen to take centre stage as the whole country celebrates 60 years of her reign across a four-day weekend at the beginning of June.

One event that is sure to form a key highlight of the Jubilee celebrations will see The Queen lead a flotilla of 1,000 boats along the River Thames. Fireworks and music from the past six decades will accompany the procession and more than a million people will line the banks of the Thames in celebration as the flotilla sails past.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee festivities will continue throughout the year as well, marked by a series of exhibitions and events.

The National Portrait Gallery will stage The Queen: Art and Image from 17 May to 21 October whilst photographs taken by former royal photographer Cecil Beaton will be on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Visitors planning to come to London during January, April or May are also invited to book guided tours of the beautiful and opulent State Rooms at Buckingham Palace whilst The Queen takes her residency at Sandringham and Windsor.

Meanwhile, Shakespeare’s birthday, which falls on 23 April, will be celebrated by a kaleidoscope of 38 international theatre companies staging each one of William Shakespeare’s 38 plays in a different language at the world renowned Globe Theatre.

This series of plays will be the most ambitious multilingual Shakespearean project ever attempted and presents a fantastic opportunity to view Shakespeare in Spanish, at The Globe - an authentic restored theatre from the time of the Bard.

Visitors can embrace the multiculturalism that makes London one of the most diverse and fascinating cities on earth by planning a trip that includes the Chinese New Year celebrations in Trafalgar Square on 29 January. Or why not plan your visit around World Pride 2012, promoting gay and lesbian issues with two weeks of festivities and cultural activities during June and July.

London’s museums and galleries (many of which are free to enter) will also be putting on a show throughout the year.

Not-to-be missed highlights will include Damien Hirst at Tate Modern from April until September, Pablo Picasso’s lifelong connection with Britain explored at Tate Britain from February to 15 July and Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan, which runs at the National Gallery until 5 February 2012.

There is no doubt that 2012 will be an Olympic year for London but it also promises to serve up a host of limited edition, once-in-a-lifetime experiences that visitors won’t find anywhere else. The entirity of 2012 in London is sure to be more magical than ever before. So don’t miss out. For more information and to plan a trip, visit www.visitlondon.com

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

How to win events business during London 2012

The London 2012 Olympic Games will bring some 100 private sector sponsors, 26 international federations, 205 competing nations, 560 domestic sporting bodies and the world’s media to the UK capital. Not to mention a host of consumer brands looking for an unofficial association with ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ plus a range of local businesses, all eager to harness some of that Olympic spirit to motivate staff and win new business contracts.

With just over 300 days remaining until the Opening Ceremony, a number of venues and agencies have already secured events and hospitality contracts. However, there are many others who still strive for their opportunity to work with an Olympic related client.

Zanine Adams, head of sales and Event Solutions at London & Partners is keen to stress to those who are still searching for London 2012 business opportunities that they should remain focused and proactive.

“Venues should be looking at the bigger picture and away from simply marketing themselves as potential hospitality houses for National Olympic Committees," she says. "We believe there will only be around 60 of these NOC hubs as many countries have decided to adopt a national presence in London and form part of an International House, West African House, Latin American House or Oceania House for example. Agencies and venues need to assess all activation opportunities and be aware that deals will continue to be done right until the last few days of the countdown to the Games.”

To help events businesses consider the full range of opportunities available to them, I have worked with Zanine to compile the following advice:

1) Inspire
Do you have a clear London 2012 business message? Is there a dedicated area on your website providing details of Olympic packages? Ensure you have available itineraries, sensible rates and packages and that they are being marketed to their full capacity both online and offline.

2) Look closer to home
Have you consulted your regular client-base or local businesses? It’s likely that many companies are only starting to consider their Olympic action plan now. Discuss ways in which you can help to entertain their guests or motivate internal staff with or without access to tickets.

3) Partner Up
Is there an associated business which would strengthen your offer? Consider partnering up with a hotel, meetings venue or restaurant or team building company, agency or entertainment supplier and go to market with a complete package.

4) Set your sights
Many international sponsors are planning Wave Programmes that will see them fly guests into the UK capital on three-day rotations. Agencies are therefore in need of incentive and itinerary ideas. Can you offer reception space, dining amenities or transport?

5) Think laterally
Does your venue’s roof terrace provide a stunning media backdrop? Maybe, your out-of-town location would provide a good stop-off lunch point for airport transfers? Just because your venue space has always been used in a particular way, why not do something different and transform that courtyard into a pop-up restaurant or offer a brand gallery space where once sat meetings space.

6) 2012 lasts longer than a fortnight
There are so many fantastic events taking place throughout next year including the Cultural Olympiad, Charles Dickens’ 200th anniversary, the Shakespeare Festival and the four-day Diamond Jubilee. Do you have offers and packages aimed at driving business around these Olympic alternatives?

7) Don’t forget about the Paralympics
What can you offer those brands, sponsors, media and athletes involved with the Paralympic Games? Do you have dedicated Paralympic packages and rates in place? How are you marketing your offer? The Paralympic Games will afford a large amount of business opportunities, some of which will require specialist packages and bespoke offers.

8) Communicate
If you’re not using social media channels to build relationships and promote your offer, you can guarantee that your competitors will be. Now is the time to speak to your supplier network and industry peers. Share knowledge, discuss ideas and form partnerships wherever possible.

9) Stay focused
Lead times have grown shorter and the Olympic Games has always traditionally turned into somewhat of a sprint towards the summer. Now is the time to focus on helping clients to make decisions through consultation and keeping yourselves visible. If decisions are to be left until the last minute, those companies will need to remember you and your offer in a positive light.

10) Keep abreast of developments
There are a number of conferences, exhibitions, websites and magazines whose remit is to help you make the most of the Olympic opportunity. Engage and embrace them all. London & Partners has teamed up with The International Special Events Society and Unique Venues of London to host one such event on 19 September at the BFI IMAX cinema where we shall be discussing London 2012 and Beyond.