As Britain prepares to host the Olympic Games, the advantages to the country extend far and beyond the achievements of the athletes on the track. The Games provide a wonderful opportunity for us to improve Britain’s infrastructure and boost the economy too, the benefits of which will be felt for years to come and businesses in particular can expect to enjoy increased sales. However, it is important to stress that unless businesses make careful preparation for the Olympics in advance then sales could level off or even decline before the Games are actually over.
According to the University of British Columbia, the 2010 Winter Olympics resulted in significant growth for the Province, showing an increase in new businesses, jobs and visitor spend. Research by PricewaterhouseCoopers estimated that 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.
Although 78% of companies in British Columbia recognised the Olympics as an opportunity to gain business before the Games, investigation by BT Global Research showed that 38% of the private sector confirmed they could have capitalised more on the business opportunities it created. And the sudden surge in demand meant that over 23% of businesses experienced issues with their network capacity during the Games.
So with London 2012 just around the corner what does that mean for us closer to home?The UK government has worked hard in its preparations, completing new buildings for the events and preparing for the huge influx of visitors who will come. London has been improving its transport network and will offer Wi-Fiin all its stations – even the underground.
To capitalise fully on the Olympics effect, businesses should already have an activity plan in place and have started to implement it.A survey conducted by BT found that it should take a company about 18 months to be ready for the Olympics and according to BT Business, by January 2012, 15% of SMEs said they were already involved in London 2012 in some way. In fact 58% of those are already supplying products or services directly to the organisers.
But if you have a business that hasn’t started preparations, there’s still time to prepare to a certain degree, that’s if you start now. Here are a few basic recommendations :
Make sure you have eyecatching and clear signage that means you can be found easily on and offline. Also, make sure you’re accessible, The Paralympic Games will bring in a large number of disabled visitors and accessible tourism is estimated to be worth £2 billion in England alone.
Another way to encourage customers to use our business is to offer Wi-Fi. Naturally visitors will want to share their experiences of The Olympics through Facebook, Twitter and email and businesses with internet service will attract more customers because of this. Even if it’s not right for your particular business type, you must make sure that your IT department is prepared for anything which happens. Be sure to have plans in place if your internet service goes down due to high levels of useage and be prepared for cyber slacking too, also allow and plan for employees taking longer to get into work because of traffic congestion.
And finally, be aware of unscrupulous people ready to target the Olympics - spam, fraud and malware all infected the last World Cup and there are signs that the 2012 Olympics could suffer in the same way.
If you take the time to prepare properly now, you’re business will be able to avoid these threats and will instead enjoy business opportunities and growth that this once in a lifetime event will bring to us all.
Enjoy London 2012, both this year and for many years to come.