Restaurants, cafés and other hospitality operators need to start work now to ensure their businesses stay open during the Olympics.
That's the warning following high-level talks between the Cafe Dining and Hospitality Loss Prevention Forum](http://www.orisgroup.co.uk/loss-prevention-forums/cafe-dinning-hospitality), which represents billions of pounds worth of turnover in the UK and overseas, and the Metropolitan Police.
During the forum's first quarterly meeting in December, attended by the Met's senior Olympic co-ordinator, Alaric Bonthron, it emerged that 60% of London companies believe the event would have a minimal impact on their operations.
But Bonthron told the forum, held at Costa Coffee'shead office in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, that the Olympics would have a much bigger impact than many expected.
"The Olympic Games and Paralympic Games will be staged between 27 July and 9 September and London will see the equivalent of the population of Leeds descending upon the capital - in addition to the existing population going about its daily business. Businesses cannot delay thinking that it is two years away. It will impact the whole of the UK," Bonthron said.
Chief among the concerns of the forum was not just the issue of security at a time when the police would be stretched by dealing with the Olympics as well as normal events such as the Notting Hill Carnival and Wimbledon, but also business continuity at a time when 20 million extra trips are expected to be made, 80% of which will be using public transport.
Sally Kee, vice-chairman of the forum and head of loss prevention at [Starbucks](http://starbucks.co.uk/), said the experience of her firm during Vancouver's 2010 Winter Olympics meant that it was already preparing now.
"It is not just a question of security but business continuity," Kee said. "In Canada we had staff having to continually join the queues for the toilets to clean them and then simply rejoin the queue and continue the process because of the sheer volume of people coming through our restaurants."
"All businesses need to be aware of the threats and opportunities involved. We need to be able to get our staff into work as well as our customers to allow for the fact that millions more people will be coming to London and other parts of the UK," she added.
Operator sought for £100m Orbit contract
The [Olympic Park Legacy Company](http://www.legacycompany.co.uk/) is seeking an operator for landmark 2012 structure the ArcelorMittal Orbit. The 10-year contract, which is estimated to generate annual revenue of around £10m, is for hospitality, catering, and marketing and events. Other services required include informing and financing the fit-out, ticketing and gift shop services.
Interested parties have until 28 January to submit a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire and the contract will be awarded in June.
Malcolm Ross, Legacy Company executive director of operations and venues, said: "It's not purely a visitor attraction, it's a hospitality piece. We want this to be a memorable experience."
The Met and other organisations including the Home Office and LOCOG (The London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) have produced literature on how to get ready for the Olympics and Paralympics on [www.london2012.com](http://www.london2012.com).
More information can also be found at [www.security.homeoffice.gov.uk/counter-terrorism-strategy/olympics2012 ](http://www.security.homeoffice.gov.uk/counter-terrorism-strategy/olympics2012)
[London hotel development remains in pole position ahead of 2012 Olympics >> ](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/09/21/335147/london-hotel-development-remains-in-pole-position-ahead-of-2012.html)London Olympics to slow rate of UK hotel recovery next year >>[Locog to target trade shows to prepare for Olympics >> ](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/07/30/334493/locog-to-target-trade-shows-to-prepare-for-olympics.html)
By Neil Gerrard
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