With the year of sport well and truly under way our business tracker operators are already looking to learn all they can from warm-up events, the torch relay and the Diamond Jubilee, before the expected Olympic prize. James Stagg reports
The sporting theme is already under way at Ufford Park, where the hotel has hosted a Question of Sport-style quiz and is planning a rowing competition and events to coincide with the Olympic torch relay.
The quiz raised more than £800 for the Suffolk SportsAid Foundation, which helps fund local athletes towards achieving their goal of representing Great Britain in 2012 and beyond.
“We managed to attract over 100 people,” explains revenue manager Melanie Hawes. “It was in the style of A Question of Sport, with all the same questions. We had screens up and everyone got involved and really enjoyed it. We raised the money through ticket sales and an auction of prizes supplied by our sponsors, including Adnams.”
Meanwhile, for those regulars and health club members that want to get more hands-on with the sporting activities, Ufford Park is hosting a “rowathon” to raise further funds for budding athletes. One of them, Joshua Tanner, a potential Olympic rower, is being sponsored by the hotel and will be present at the rowing event.
“He didn’t make the Olympics this time as rowers often peak nearer their 30s but we’re going to continue with the sponsorship as it’s a worthwhile connection with us since we’re so close to the River Deben,” Hawes adds.
“The rowathon promotes what we do at the health club and raises money as members are being sponsored to row for a period of time each. We’ve done one before and raised a fair bit of money.”
Having identified that families are a revenue stream to target during the Olympics, Ufford Park’s packages have already proved successful. “Family inclusive packages did well over February half term and are looking good for Easter, too,” says Hawes. “May and June are looking considerably up on last year as well, which is very positive.”
Some of those guests may be lucky enough to be staying as the Olympic torch passes the hotel. Hawes says plans are already under way to host a torch-themed event with specials on the menu.
“We’ll get the staff behind it and obviously everyone outside to watch the relay,” she adds. “We expect it to come past in the afternoon so I expect we’ll put on afternoon teas. The hope is that people can watch the relay and spend some time with us here.”
Best Western Ufford Park hotel, golf and spa
Tel: 01394 383555
Taking inspiration from operators who experience high volumes from annual sporting events, James Parsons is firming up his plans for the Olympics and torch relay.
On the suggestion of British Institute of Innkeeping member and mentor Johnny Johnston, he had planned to go to last week’s Cheltenham Festival to speak to businesses that experience high demand for limited periods.
“I spoke to a couple of operators but, as I couldn’t make it for the event, I said I’d get in touch with them afterwards to see how they managed it and make the most of it,” Parsons says. “They are mainly wet led but I want to talk to one that does food and has a garden about whether they do table service, and find out any ideas for quick snack catering – whether it’s a barbecue or pre-prepared food.”
With the expectation that guests at the Olympic events will be looking for traditional food, the Nothe Tavern has applied for an accreditation from Direct from Dorset. It means the pub will be able to show an emblem that states it supplies and sells lots of products from Dorset.
“To satisfy the conditions we have to buy from local producers and constantly have a certain amount of products on the menu from Dorset,” Parsons adds. “We’ve already got lots on our core menu but we’re going to emphasise it a bit more on the specials. There are loads of quality cheeses, meat, vegetables and fish available locally.”
More immediately, the pub is preparing to host a Titanic evening on 13 April, marking the 100th anniversary of its sinking.
“It will be a themed dinner in aid of the RNLI,” Parsons says. “I’ve recreated the final dinner but scaled it down to six courses.
“My suppliers have been really good. Our vegetable supplier Graingers of Dorchester is donating much of the produce and I’m just doing it at cost. We’re charging £40 a head and all proceeds will go to the RNLI. I’m limiting it to 50 people as it’s quite a big menu.”
The Nothe Tavern
Tel: 01305 839255
Business is already looking brisk at the Palmer Arms in Dorney, which has secured a number of bookings for parties over the Olympics and will be hosting the BBC for the two weeks of events at the lake.
“The BBC has firmed up and we’ve started doing run-up contracts,” explains owner Chrys Fisher. “They have the function room for the duration of events at Dorney Lake. It should be fantastic PR as they plan to conduct all the interviews from the Palmer Arms, and they will hopefully be outside so as to show the pub.”
Not to be left out, ITV is now looking for space in the Palmer Arms car park, though having already set aside so much, Fisher is not sure whether to tie up any more. He explains: “They [ITV] want to use it as a base and be close to the BBC too. The BBC has already reserved two parking spaces as well so we don’t really want to rent out any more as we are sure to need them.”
Meanwhile, Fisher’s search for a marquee has led him to consider buying one. Rental prices, he believes, have been hiked for the Olympics so it makes more financial sense to invest in a longer-term solution.
“The prices seemed really high to hire so we’re looking to buy and use it again for a beer festival in October,” Fisher says. “We’re going to buy a hog roast too, as it will cost loads to hire as they demand they throw an expensive pig in, too.”
Both acquisitions will come in handy for other celebrations, like the Diamond Jubilee and the torch relay.
“I’ll be doing a hog roast at a local school for the Jubilee and we’re thinking of doing the same for the pub when the torch relay passes,” Fisher adds.
The Palmer Arms
Tel: 01628 666612
Caterer and Hotelkeeper has adopted three businesses as they run up to the Olympics as part of the Profiting from 2012 campaign in association with ACT Clean and People 1st.
All three are keen to exploit the opportunity and ensure they’re fully prepared. Each month we’ll be tracking their progress as they prepare to profit from the games, while mentors will be on hand to offer advice and encouragement.
Our Profiting from 2012 Business Tracker series is published in association with ACT Clean and People 1st
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Published by: The Caterer