The Olympics may be referred to as London 2012, but there's plenty of opportunity for operators around the country to get involved. Emily Manson reports
There will be few people who are not already aware that hosting the Olympics in the UK this year presents a great opportunity for a much-needed increase in business. Not only does this apply during the games; it's also a chance to attract new guests and create new loyal customers for the future.
Of course this is relatively easy if your business is near the main Olympic site or even one of the satellite venues where other events are being held around the country. But if you're not in the centre of things, how can you ensure that your business is still one of the winners?
All the major industry bodies have developed and launched initiatives, advice or toolkits to help businesses maximise the potential benefits of the games. The only trouble is, there's so much information out there that it's hard to pick through the competing voices.
As Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the BHA, says: "Most hospitality businesses are getting tuned up for the Olympics. There are lots of places to go for advice and it's really important to take advantage of all the business opportunities out there."
So for operators who don't have the time to sift through all the different toolkits but equally don't want to miss out on easy wins that could help improve a business's exposure and potential success this year, here are six of the best free initiatives to tap into.
London Visitor Charter
The Fair Pricing and Practice Charter is a scheme created by London & Partners, supported by the Mayor of London and LOCOG. It is a voluntary code of practice which any business, hospitality operator or venue can sign up to. It commits signatories to maintaining their prices during the period of the games and delivering their goods and services in an ethical, environmental and sustainable way.
So far over 60 businesses have signed up to the charter, including the Hard Rock Café, St Martin's-in-the-Fields café and restaurant and Tom Aikens's restaurants.
Participating venues will receive signs to put in their windows to encourage passing trade as well as being listed on the website. It aims to assure new visitors they will not be ripped off and will get fair value for money.
Get involved Operators need to accept the terms and conditions of the charter, print off the acceptance form on company letterhead and return it to London and Partners. Find the form at www.londonandpartners.com.
The Culture Diary
The Greater London Authority has launched the Culture Diary to enable advanced logistics planning for cultural events during 2012, and also prevent diary clashes. It will list all artistic and cultural activities and events but also provides an opportunity for joint campaigning, new partnerships and business link ups.
Get involved Businesses need to be registered to access the diary. Once registered, operators can either enter an event or search through the calendar to see what events are planned in their local area. This information can be used to help design timely marketing campaigns. The deadline for event listings is 31 March 2012.
London Media Centre (LMC)
Set up by London & Partners, the LMC has been set up for the 6,000-plus international non-accredited, non-sports media who will cover the Olympics. During the games the centre will co-ordinate a programme of activities to showcase London. Within the culture section they are looking for music, entertainment and food-related activities and events. There are also familiarisation trips around the city, press conferences and small and large hospitality events which need to be hosted.
Get involved Use this to build your hotel, restaurant or bar's profile by listing interesting events. Send them news stories about your venue and any activities you are holding. The centre has to drip-feed stories from now until the games to the international press and is looking for content and stories for the media programme.
Try providing a case study featuring your venue; put forward a spokesperson - your chef/celebrity/owner - to speak about the industry and what the games mean to them; or offer a tour, exclusive entry or discount to your venue.
This VisitEngland promotion is the largest ever domestic tourism marketing campaign. Set to launch this March, it is essentially a one-stop-shop website on which any business can promote its 20.12% events and promotions. Hospitality operators of any size are being asked to participate and the only criteria for entry is that a discount of 20.12% or more is offered - so BOGOF deals or three nights for the price of two would both qualify.
Get involved The site is not yet live, but operators can register interest at www.visitengland.org/2012offers. VisitEngland will be in touch nearer the launch date.
Great Britain - You're invited
VisitBritain's scheme calls on UK businesses and their employees to invite their friends, relatives and past customers from around the world to visit Britain in 2012. To help operators do this, it has developed a free online toolkit which allows users to personalise their own greetings on postcards, posters and adverts.
There's even a Facebook app. Its aim is to use personal contacts to encourage overseas colleagues, friends and family to the UK for their next holiday.
The tourism industry toolkit can be downloaded for free on www.visitbritain.org. It contains all the templates for adverts and newsletters, which can be tailored to a company's own specifications, as well as other tips and suggestions.
The Business Network
LOCOG's Business Network was set up to help publicise business contract opportunities (direct and supply chain) for the procurement of goods, works and services in and around the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The CompeteFor website is a subsidiary free service that enables businesses to compete for contract opportunities linked to the games, with particular focus on matching buyers with potential suppliers in the supply chain.
Get involved With a particular focus on supply chain opportunities, CompeteFor acts as a brokerage service It also provides access to business support, through the national Business Link network. Any business can register on CompeteFor and it's free. However, to apply or pitch for contracts a full business profile must be completed. This will then be used to try to match your business with suitable partners.
Five initiatives to get you off the starting blocks
Develop a clear London 2012 business message. Create a dedicated part of your website providing details of Olympic packages with itineraries, sensible rates and packages and market these to their full capacity both online and offline.
Contact your regular client-base and local businesses and discuss ways you can help entertain their guests or motivate internal staff with or without access to tickets.
Link up with an associated business to strengthen your offer. A restaurant could partner with an entertainment supplier, a hotel might link up with a local team building company to create a more individual package with greater appeal.
Offer your reception space, dining options to travel agencies and international sponsors who are looking for incentive and itinerary ideas.
Think laterally: Can your roof terrace provide a stunning media backdrop? And don't forget about the Paralympics - have dedicated packages and rates for these, some of which will need bespoke offers.
Preparing Your Business for the Games is a free download brochure of security issues and risk assessment criteria.
Transport and Deliveries
Transport will be significantly impacted during the games. TfL and the BHA (for members) have information to help planning for deliveries and access.