How to win business at London 2012

Teamwork

If you lack the capacity to bid directly, why not create your own mini-consortium? Some of the more specialist contracts issued by the ODA and LOCOG might not dovetail exactly with your own company?s capabilities, but you can always team up with other businesses in your network.

Ignore the Games

For thousands of businesses, 2012 will have nothing to do with sporting events at all. True, the opportunities in areas such as merchandise will be limited ? LOCOG is fierce in protecting its all-important, revenue-generating brand. But there have to be ways to exploit the fact that 7.6m tickets will be sold to see 10,500 athletes, watched by 21,000 media and broadcasters ? with 10,000 team and technical officials on site. (And that?s before you even get to the Paralympic Games, which are almost as big.) Remember that most teams will be in the UK a couple of weeks early to acclimatise ? so towns and cities around the country will get a boost.

Be realistic, though. The European Tour Operators Association last year claimed that London may not see many tourism benefits from the Games ? not least because in 2012 itself, many non-Games visitors may be put off. Visit London refutes that, saying its research puts the estimated extra tourism revenues at ?1.5bn over ten years. But it may not be wise to bank your business on a bumper year for tourists.

Limitations ? and opportunities

LOCOG needs to pay for the Games out of revenues from ticket sales, sponsorship, advertising and media rights. And it needs to minimise its cash outflows. So for many suppliers, there?s going to be quid pro quo involving money off your bill or providing facilities for free ? so-called ?value-in-kind? deals.

?Official Partner? means stumping up serious cash for a headline sponsorship deal (such as Lloyds TSB and BT). ?Official Supporter? will mean value-in-kind deals and possibly some cash. ?Official Supplier? is the third-tier package, where you?ll provide goods and services in exchange for public association with the Games. Because LOCOG needs to protect the companies who have done a deal, there is a strict embargo on talking about your status as a Games supplier ? at least officially.

?But you can still sell from it,? says Alan. ?It can help you win business before you?ve actually done any work. When a big public-sector client in Asia wanted to make a decision about us recently, one guy at the meeting turned to the other and said, ?oh, they?re being used by the Olympics?? and that was it. You?re much more attractive if you?re doing this kind of work.?

Getting closer

With just two years to go, deadlines will soon be a factor. ?It does stretch you,? says Alan, whose company has worked on the last three Games. ?It?s definitely pushing our capacity ? although that makes us think about how to develop the business. But cash-flow is a big challenge. There are intense bursts of activity, when no one sleeps ? and then nothing. And you might well be turning down work while you wait for the next burst.

?You don?t have an alternative venue or movable date for London 2012 ? it?s just got to happen,? he continues. ?But while end-dates don?t slip, start-dates do. So you?re being asked to react very quickly by contractors. That?s another reason to partner: you can share the pain.?

After the Lord Mayor?s show?

The business opportunities don?t end when the Paralympic Games wrap up on September 9, 2012. First, there?s the decommissioning and conversion work, which includes big jobs like turning the main stadium into a smaller-capacity athletics venue, or converting the athletes? village into housing and selling it on. The Games are also being used as a springboard to increase economic activity throughout East London and further into the Thames Gateway.

Then there are the follow-up opportunities around other big events. Companies with experience of providing key services to London 2012 have a great head start in wooing the organisers and their main contractors. Glasgow is hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2014, for example.

Getting fit to supply a high-profile and fixed-deadline event like London 2012 gets your business ready to supply other demanding customers ? especially government. Public spending may be about to plummet over the next few years, but that?s simply going to push procurement standards higher ? and make businesses with tight processes and big-game experience more competitive.

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