Profiting from 2012 business tracker – the calm before the storm

25 July 2012 by
Profiting from 2012 business tracker – the calm before the storm

Our Business Tracker operators are putting in place the final preparations before the Olympic crowds descend. James Stagg reports

The Nothe Tavern
Things are coming together at the Nothe Tavern in Weymouth, according to licensee James Parsons, though there is still some uncertainty over staffing requirements.

"We're gradually chipping away at bits and pieces that we need to do," he explains. "Now we just need to get some more staff. We had a big recruitment drive earlier in the year but some didn't work out as we'd expected and others have had a change in circumstances so we're a little short at the moment."

The pub has also engaged a recruitment agency as a back-up plan if it isn't able to recruit all the extra staff required directly. Though, despite expecting an influx of custom, Parsons is still unsure just how many people the pub will be catering for.

We're fine for what we're trading at the moment but it's just difficult knowing what we will need," he says. "It won't be until the end of the first day that we'll really know how we'll do."

But the pub will have the chance to prepare as there will be a steady build-up as the Olympic Games approaches, with a large regatta being held next month.

"We've will have some teams coming in from that, and we've taken bookings from Olympic sponsors," Parsons says.

"The USA team are bringing corporate clients and friends and they've booked tables, as has a sailing shoe manufacturer. Media crews have also shown interest, so it's going to be busy."

Though the poor weather has affected trading in April compared with last year, Parsons is confident the pub will profit regardless of any rainy days - and may even benefit.

"The great thing about the Olympics is if it's windy or it rains it could be better for us," he adds. "The ticketed area is quite exposed and people might not want to spend eight hours outside, so we expect to pick up some trade from that."

Those looking to keep warm might well pop into the pub for a take-away coffee, so all the staff have been trained by the Nothe Tavern's coffee supplier. Meanwhile the summer menus arrived this week.

"We'll be running a full menu during the Olympics as we still have our regular customers to look after," Parsons says. "We only have so many seats so we can only feed so many people. It's a question of turning them around as fast as possible."

The Nothe TavernTel: 01305

Ufford Park
Ufford Park has celebrated 20 years under its current ownership, launching a series of events that will lead up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"We had an open day on the May bank holiday, which surpassed our expectations," explains revenue manager Melanie Hawes. "Because of the weather we were worried it would be rained off but in the end more people came as they weren't heading to the coast. We had over 1,000 people through the door and at least a third of those hadn't been before."

The open day was followed by a corporate event which included a golf day combined with a gala dinner, both of which were well attended.

"The owners were very pleased," Hawes adds. "They've owned the hotel for 20 years and are looking to progress, with their son and daughter now involved in the business as well."

Looking towards the Olympics, Ufford Park is ready for torch relay guests, having warmed up with the anniversary celebrations.

"We know that the torch will pass us and that there will be huge celebrations in Ipswich," Hawes says. "In Christchurch Park there will be music acts and all sorts of entertainment. We should get some good business on the back of it."

The hotel reports that bookings have been steady, if undramatic, for the Olympic period, but Hawes is confident that business will pick up.

"At the moment it's more general leisure business on the back of the trend towards holidaying in the UK," she says. "It'll be interesting to see whether the potential for a bad summer will have an effect.

"We do find the trend is more last minute. People tend to look at the weather forecast and book as late as possible. Obviously we've got wedding parties that are coming no matter what."

To appeal to those who are making their minds up late, local hoteliers are working together on a marketing strategy.

"Next week we're meeting with the Ipswich Hoteliers Association and we're trying to do more marketing with the Olympics in mind," Hawes explains. "We're all trying to push the train links to London as it's only an hour to Stratford. With more tickets available this week we're expecting more interest."

Best Western Ufford Park hotel, golf and spaTel: 01394

The Palmer Arms
Having been concerned that the visitors to the Olympic and Paralympic rowing and kayak events might bypass the business, owner Chrys Fisher is reassured that guests will be accepted in the main entrance to Dorney Lake.

"There will be access to the front of the lake, which is great for us," he confirms. "Previously we'd thought it would be a non-event as there wasn't going to be any access from this side of Dorney but I've had a meeting with Locog and they've said people will be able to walk and cycle into the main entrance."

Though that's clearly welcome news, Fisher will now have to contend with the increased traffic, with people seeking places to park near the entrance to the lake.

"There will be no parking except blue badge parking at Windsor Racecourse, so many people will end up trying to find parking on this side," he says. "I think I'll have to get a barrier or chain."

The races at Dorney Lake take place in the morning so Fisher expects only to have to police the car park from 7am to 10am. However, for those prepared to pay he is considering making a charge for the car park that will be redeemable against lunch at the Palmer Arms. To ensure there are the maximum available spaces, staff will be asked to park at Fisher's house nearby or cycle to the pub.

"It's great news though. Since LOCOG has announced there will be access from this side we've had lots of bookings," he adds. "Some key days are really busy. We won't get away with charging them for the parking though so we have a bit of a dilemma."

To cater for the guests Fisher expects to pare down the pub's menu slightly and make use of his new hog roast. "I've done a few now and they're so easy," he says. "The machine I've bought from Tasty Trotter is really superb - I'd recommend it. We're using it next for the Olympic countdown at Dorney Reach. It's actually more for the Jubilee but it's turned into a combination of both. It'll be interesting to see how it works off-site as in the past we've had the kitchen in case anything goes wrong."

Fisher has also set about building staffing levels in preparation. Students are already coming on board now and have a few weeks to get up to speed before the main event.

"Many students have broken up early as they're in London universities in residencies that may be used for the Olympics," he says. "So we've got a head start."

The Palmer ArmsTel: 01628

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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