Iain Edmondson: Capital Gains
London has never quite experienced anything like this before. The Olympic Games offers the chance for one of the world’s great cities to bolster its position as a honeypot for tourists and attract new business for the city and the United Kingdom. Iain Edmondson, head of major events at the capital's promotional body London & Partners explains how the city intends to do so.
How did you come to be involved with London & Partners?
Originally I was in business development for an organisation that runs sports facilities in the UK. When I was working for this organisation I found a way to work on the bid campaign for the 2012 Games. The company at that time was London 2012 Limited. It was only a very temporary role in relation to the venues’ legacy. I then worked for a consultancy for three years and after doing that I got a job with This Is London which subsequently became London & Partners. Back in 2007, London created a small unit that dealt with major events within the original tourism body and now it exists within the larger promotional organisation for the city known as London & Partners.
Aside from being a great sporting spectacle, what’s the opportunity on offer?
"We have such a hugely rich cultural offer in London and this is our opportunity to celebrate that"
We are an incredible diverse city in its broadest sense. We’re incredible rich in events, in culture, in outwards-facing activities and it’s the opportunity for people to celebrate that in the eyes of the world. Sometimes I think we don’t realise how great this city is and how other people see us. We tend to play ourselves down and I don’t think people realise just what a great story we have to tell the rest of the world. Literally the rest of the world will be coming to London for the 17 days of the Olympics and then the nine days of the Paralympics in a way that is much bigger than anything else at any other time. All of that means that people will lap up content from London in a way they haven’t done before. We have such a hugely rich cultural offer in London and this is our opportunity to celebrate that.
What’s the business opportunity on offer?
That is another huge strand of what we’re doing at London & Partners. From a business point of view, we’re telling the world that the city is prepared to invest in infrastructure, in transport – all of which will make it easier for people to do business here. We’re ready to help organisations establish and grow in London whether that’s information technology companies, creative industries or others. We have the resources in place in London to make it a great place to Live. That really is an important part of the work that we’re doing right now.
How does London’s opportunity differ to that of other cities hosting major events?
It differs in the sense that, and I’m sure you’ll agree, we’re already a number one visited destination. We have over 15 million international visitors every year and however many domestic visitors as well. We are one of the most visited cities in the world and also a financial capital and we don’t need to put on a great show to put our name on the map around the world. The important thing we do need to do, however, is recognise that the world is changing and it’s becoming more competitive. Power is shifting east and western economies are changing as a result. The world is changing and the world is becoming more competitive and our big opportunity is to demonstrate that we can still be a leading force in the world in the modern era rather than just relying on what perceptions of London was in the past.
"We can still be a leading force in the world in the modern era rather than just relying on what perceptions of London was in the past"
What are some of the pre- and post-Games projects that you’re involved in?
The key activity from my role and my perspective has been major events. Within that sport is an obvious market. We’ve been busy supporting events coming to the city in the build up to the Games like the World Badminton Championships last year which has a huge audience in China and Asia and the World Triathlon in Hyde Park which we’ve now staged for three years in the lead up to the Games. What we’re doing is converting some of those things into securing business for after the Games. We’ve successfully bid alongside UK Athletics for the World Athletics Championships in 2017, we’ve got the 2015 European Hockey Championships and the 2015 Canoe Slalom World Championships which will utilise the legacy venue in Leigh Valle,
We’re also working on creating a big, new event for London which will have an international profile but also have a mass participation event. It’s a cycling event that will be held every year on the anniversary of the Games. It’s a means to show the rest of the world that it’s something we can do because we held the Games. Just like twenty-odd years ago through the creation of the London Marathon. It also is a vehicle to get more young people on bikes which is a key priority for the city.
The other two areas are business tourism and conventions. As well as bidding for events from a sporting perspective there is also a team here that lead on drawing in some big business meetings and conventions where people can choose to go to annual gatherings from various industries around the world. We have a team here that helps supporting bringing that business to the venues in London.
What is the scale of London and Partners’ involvement in the Games?
We’re an organisation of over 100 people. We’re part funded by the Mayor and part funded by the stakeholders and business within the city. It’s our day job to focus on the growth of London’s economy year-on-year well beyond the Games. Our job isn’t just to ensure that a great event gets put on this year.
How do you measure the success of what you’re doing?
"It’s our day job to focus on the growth of London’s economy year-on-year well beyond the Games. Our job isn’t just to ensure that a great event gets put on this year"
That’s big focus of ours in the past 12 months with the creation of the organisation. It’s all about economic input and jobs basically. We established a mechanism by which we can measure how much more money is driven to the London economy then would’ve otherwise been the case. For each of those areas we are developing targets that allow us to quantify the impact of one organisation and the number of people they employ when an organisation grows or is established in the city or the number of people that come from outside the UK to visit an international event or stay as tourist. We track what the case is now and we track how it changes and that’s how it’s measured.
What do you hope for the legacy of London 2012?
Sometimes I think we’re a little bit too close to actually be able to judge that. It probably goes back to my point about the way the world is changing and London’s position in the modern world rather than London or England of the UK’s position in the historic world of a century ago or something. I think it’s a real mark in time to say that London is still a thriving heart of the global economy in the new world and there is a place for us. It’s not all about history and the old, traditional ways, we are absolutely at the cutting edge of modern technology, investment, creative, lifestyle and I think that hopefully when people are looking back, it won’t be UK residents or Londoners looking back, it’ll be the international world looking back and having a good feeling towards London and the Olympic Games will have been a part of that.
More from London & Partners' Iain Edmondson on how London aims to capitalise on the Games appears in the August 2012 edition of SportsPro. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Perth Glory team up with Komodo Capital - 24 January 2011
Arena Group raises UKÂ£16.5 million - 13 February 2012
Capital One named as new League Cup sponsor - 01 June 2012
Chesapeake Energy renew and upgrade deal - 24 August 2011
Saxo Capital Markets banks on Asian Tour - 14 March 2013
Related blog posts
Michael Woodburn: Capital gains - 18 February 2013, Quick-Fire Questions
City of Omaha handed major sporting boost - 07 July 2009, Notes & Insights
Rome to host a Formula One Grand Prix street race - 21 December 2009, Notes & Insights
Welcome to London - 30 October 2012, Quick-Fire Questions
Bernie Ecclestone and Genii bid for Saab - 08 January 2010, Notes & Insights