With fewer than 100 days before London 2012, our business tracker operators are upgrading equipment, completing refurbishments and putting in place contingency plans to ensure their operations run smoothly. James Stagg reports
With just a couple of months before sailing fans flock to Weymouth, James Parsons at the Nothe Tavern is in the process of reviewing all the pub's equipment to make sure it can cope with the expected demand.
"We're undertaking a review of our current equipment and planning what we need for the summer," he explains. "Right now we've only got a six-burner range in the kitchen so we're looking at additional heating elements like a solid top to use alongside it to heat sauces and keep things warm. We're also looking at a new ice machine, as well as getting all our current equipment serviced."
Parsons can't risk any equipment not performing to its maximum, particularly since roads will be closed around the pub for much of the duration of the Olympic Games, preventing suppliers from accessing the pub. With that in mind he has drawn up an action plan for staff to follow in the event of any issues.
"It's to cover eventualities like the tills crashing - to make sure we have back-up plans in place," Parsons says. "Everything will be fully serviced before the Olympics but things happen. A couple of weeks ago our till systems crashed on a Sunday and we need to be ready if that happens so that it doesn't disrupt what we do. We're assessing what may go wrong and making contingency plans."
In the meantime, the plans can be tested at events leading up to the games, including the Diamond Jubilee and torch relay.
"We're planning on putting on a garden party on the patio, with cream teas and Pimm's," Parsons adds. "It's hard to predict as we were very quiet for the Royal Wedding as people stayed in to watch it on TV. But we think for the Jubilee we'll be alright, so we're starting to promote it now."
To aid his promotion, he has invested in a Bluetooth sender that can distribute messages to potential visitors nearby. The tool will enable Parsons to promote particular deals or offers to passing trade. "It'll be a marketing campaign to attract people with pictures and messages," he says. "For instance, we could suggest they take a pie or fish and chips home, or that they'll receive a discount if they show their tickets from the sailing events.
"If we can get just 10% of the 4,500 people going in there each day we'll be quite happy."
The Nothe Tavern
Tel: 01305 839255
Despite the wet weather, Chrys Fisher at the Palmer Arms in Dorney has been concentrating on the pub garden, and how it might relieve pressure in busy Olympic periods.
Having hired one to great effect last year, he has now invested in a hog roast to deal with concentrated demand. "We had a first run on Saturday and it went amazingly well," Fisher says. "We've also bought a cage with it so we can cook joints, too, so we're planning on using it on a Sunday for spit roast chickens."
He first realised the potential last year when, having hired a hog roast at the same time as the junior championships were under way at Dorney Lake, many hungry rowers turned up together.
"The teams were turning up with 40 to 50 people at a time and just by coincidence we had a hog roast on," Fisher explains. "It meant we could serve 90 to 120 people in around 15 minutes. So now we've got our own it means we can serve people really quickly. It's so easy and knocks the hell out of barbecues. This weekend, we did a selection of salads, jacket potatoes and corn on the cob to go with it, too."
Many of these guests will require parking, so keeping nearby Dorney Lake visitors from clogging up the car park will be a priority.
"We're also considering how to police the car park," Fisher says. "Right now parking will be at Windsor racecourse and the public will be transported to the lake over a temporary bridge, but there's a risk people will try to park in our car park."
However, the temporary bridge over the Thames, connecting Windsor Racecourse with Dorney could prove a real positive for the pub by opening it up to a much wider area.
"What would be excellent for us is if they keep the temporary bridge open permanently," Fisher says. "For us that would open up a whole new market and we could do race-day packages and the like."
The Palmer Arms
Tel: 01628 666612
Ufford Park has already hosted its own rowing event, having raised funds for budding Olympic athletes in a "rowathon" held this month. And staff will soon find out whether the athletes they've been supporting will make the grade and gain a place in the Olympic team.
"Next week, we've another meeting with Destination Gold [which helps fund budding Olympic athletes] and will find out a bit more about which athletes we're supporting will have made the cut for the Olympics and Paralympics," explains revenue manager Melanie Hawes.
Meanwhile, the hotel is getting ready to celebrate 20 years under its current owners with an open day on the May bank holiday followed by a corporate golf day and gala dinner.
"We're inviting people to come to the hotel and celebrate being a family run business with events for all the family," Hawes adds. "We will have a golfing competition, putting competition, live music, taster classes and plenty of stuff for kids like bouncy castles, and so on."
With the festivities beginning early, Hawes thinks the bunting will remain in place for the whole summer, as the hotel is planning a series of events around the Olympic Games. "We're doing afternoon tea for the Jubilee and probably for the torch relay, too, which will be going past us," she says. "So all the decorations that go up for the 20th anniversary will probably stay up for all the other events."
In order that hotel staff are fully prepared to deal with the guests at events leading up to and during the Games, Ufford Park has developed a customer service training programme which has been attended by all team members. "Everyone's now completed the training programme," Hawes adds. "Each department has its own champion and it is working well. Everyone is behind it and motivated. I think when you can link it to things going on like the Jubilee and Olympics people can get behind it a bit more."
Best Western Ufford Park hotel, golf and spa
Tel: 01394 383555
Our Profiting from 2012 Business Tracker series is published in association with ACT Clean and People 1st