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46 . www.conference-news.co.uk . February 2012The Olympic theme offers organisers, suppliers and venues the chance to show off their ability to think outside the boardroom. London is a competitive city so CN asks a selection of meetings professionals for their gold medal winning ideas. "If you haven't already, the most important thing is to plan: agree what you want to achieve and why, think about your audience and what they want from your event, agree budgets and timelines, hold fl ights and accommodation and talk to your agency and suppliers to make sure your ideas are achievable," says CWT Meetings and Events, UK&I, Business Development Manager Jane Baker. "The Olympics may be the biggest show on earth but the basics are the same: experience is key and details matter."The Director of London venue, 8 Northumberland and Boyds Brasserie and Bar, Charles Boyd, warns organisers to beware: the signs to easy street are misleading. "We are enjoying a large number of enquiries but generally no one is prepared to pay a premium and budgets are lower than anticipated. You combine that with the volatility and nervousness of the economy and that neither Greece or Sydney's hotels were 'sold out', for me that paints a serious picture and indicates business success during the games is not a given."Boyd says don't be afraid to take standard pricing now: "Take some bread and butter business to ensure you're not desperate for business later."The Head of Events at Vinopolis, Marjory Brown, advises including a London charity aspect to an event such as an auction for inner-city schools or athletes charities to tie into the Olympic theme.She says don't opt for evening events: "A great deal of the sports take place quite early in the morning so make the most of it and host a breakfast meeting along with a screening of an event."The MD of business travel management company ABT UK, Cilla Goldberger, says, to ensure business continuity, issue management and contingency plans need to be adopted: "We are viewing the Olympics as a potential manmade disaster, so we're taking all the lessons learnt from natural disasters and putting in place rigorous back up plans for our clients."COO of the Royal Aeronautical Society and President of The International Special Event Society (ISES) UK, Jonathan Byrne, says: "Immediately pre- and post-Olympics are ideal times to 'bag a bargain' for your events as there is actually a great deal of availability and venues will be fl exible. "There is a misconception that Games hospitality will take over London, so many organisations who would usually hold meetings at this time of year have stayed away or moved to different times." Director at Etherlive, Tom McInerney, says: "Venues will need to make sure they have enough bandwidth to support a range of activities from an impromptu press conference to meeting the basic demands of those using other facilities especially because many people will want to keep updated on the results via smartphones."MD of Max WiFi, Richard Hughes, says: "Wi-Fi demand in the industry has grown exponentially and will continue to do so as more people take to using apps and devices at events. During the Games communication systems will be stretched. Organisers need to work closely with contractors to ensure that event spaces have been surveyed fully for planning and capacity requirements."The Marketing Manager at Lord's Cricket Ground, Elly Ford, says: "Sporting venues and other venues outside of central London could have added appeal as event organisers look to avoid the 'Olympic effect'; increased LONDONLeft: The Olympic Park; Below: The athletic stadium and diving poolGold medal winning ideas

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