The Real Olympics Legacy

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It’s unbelievable to think that the London 2012 Olympics are less than four weeks away! I remember sitting on the edge of my seat back in 2005 biting my nails in front of the television as it was announced whether London or Paris would win the bid. When I heard that is was London, as an events manager, I was convinced that this would create the blueprint for some of the most incredible opportunities our industry has experienced.When Clearwater Events opened its doors back in September 2011, London 2012 Olympic fever was ramping up in Birmingham. Marketing Birmingham and Visit England to name but a few, showcased the fantastic opportunities that allegedly lay at our feet. I, along with my fellow hoteliers and suppliers, believed this was an amazing opportunity for us to market the city as a low-cost alternative base for visitors to the London 2012 Olympics especially for those visiting the City of Coventry Stadium (Ricoh Arena).

I have recently arrived home from AIBTM in Baltimore. There, it was assumed by almost everyone we spoke to that events companies such as Clearwater Events (who has a dedicated DMC department for the region) would be rushed off our feet with London 2012 Olympics events.

Arriving home, I have to question if the legacy is the fact we missed the boat with the opportunity or, in fact is the legacy the fact that we never ‘had’ the opportunity in the first place?

With a collective force of hoteliers, event agencies and suppliers, we have knocked at the doors of the very people that promised the opportunity for the region. Surprisingly, many of the doors have remained locked no matter how hard we have knocked, – many not even acknowledging us. Those that did answer the door didn’t have the answers – confusing as it was these people that had ironically sold us the opportunity in the first place!

Birmingham has both the Jamaican and USA teams training in the region, a fantastic opportunity for us to get involved (you would think). Again, there has been a closed-door mentality which has created an almost firewall-type barrier from local community-based enterprises like us from getting involved in any way. Surely, for our region, this would have been a brilliant sustainable opportunity for local companies such as Clearwater Events to get involved and for the London 2012 Olympics to leave a lasting footprint on our local economy?

What’s shocking is that my competitors and fellow suppliers are in exactly the same position as us – we just haven’t had an opportunity to even pitch – and this is all that I wanted to ask when knocking on those doors – an opportunity…

So for me, I just don’t understand what the lasting legacy is for us as a region? It seems the minority have featured heavily in delivering what little opportunity there has been, leaving the majority out in the cold. A new agency such as Clearwater Events could have really benefited from the London 2012 Olympics, I believe this is what the legacy was supposed to achieve? Sadly, for us at least, the legacy has failed to deliver.