Magazine article Marketing

An Olympic Task

Magazine article Marketing

An Olympic Task

Article excerpt

Visit London faces several hurdles in its plans to lure Games-wary visitors in 2012.

As we draw closer to the event, the 2012 London Olympics is never far from the spotlight; concerns over funding, its legacy and the ability of the capital's infrastructure to cope are all hot topics.

The latest worry is that London's tourism industry could actually suffer a slump around the Games, given that recent host cities recorded a fall in visitor numbers. Sceptics argue that people not interested in the Olympics will stay away because of fears of overcrowding and overpricing.

In November, the European Tour Operators Association said that London's tourism industry could lose as much as pounds 1.5bn if the pattern of visitors reflects that of the 2008 Games in Beijing.

Visit London plans to combat this 'displacement theory' and make the most out of the buzz around the Olympics by running 'one-off' events under the banner 'Limited Edition London' throughout 2012.

'The situation for a city which is in a pre-Olympic period is that it isn't business as usual,' says Martine Ainsworth-Wells, marketing director at Visit London. 'We need to counter the issues that people think exist. It's obviously expensive to change perceptions, so we want to turn it into an opportunity. It's about galvanising London into what an amazing opportunity it is, not just over the six weeks, but an amazing year.'

Complex challenge

Visit London will be looking to work with commercial brands on the events. However, according to Rupert Pratt, managing partner at agency Generate Sponsorship, activity will be heavily restricted because of Olympic commercial rights.

'While it could open the door for sponsors to get tangible benefits from London 2012 sponsorships, apart from naming rights, there will be lots of complexities for Visit London to cut through,' he says.

Pratt also warns that such activity could do more harm than good if handled the wrong way. 'There will already be a lot of clutter through the amount of activity going on around the Games and this could confuse both the public and sponsors,' he says.

While Visit Britain is less explicitly discussing the 'displacement theory', it does plan to invest substantially in marketing and partnership activity to get the most out of 2012. …

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