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Squamish / Whistler / Pemberton Corridor
Brian Krieger 2010 Commerce Centre
Free Film for Journalists!
In an effort to garner goodwill and positive relationships Brian Krieger
and the 2010 Commerce Centre are planning to give away free film and donuts
to journalists at the 2010 Media Centre.
I heard Mr. Krieger speak at two separate luncheons, the first in Burnaby
at the Chamber of Commerce on March 9, 2005, and on March 16 at the Squamish
If SMBs (small and midsize businesses) are to be competitive it is critically
important to see the entire picture. Unfortunately, like his counterparts
at VANOC, Mr. Krieger doesn't provide all the facts. For example, in a
similar instance on October 14, 2004 John Furlong, CEO of VANOC, tried
to convince business leaders at a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon that
Athens 2004 was a triumph. He performed a cheerleading "Rah Rah Rah" after
returning from a $380,000 trip to the Greek Games to let us know that
everything was a "Great Success!" He reported that the only negative aspect
of the Games was how media blew issues of unfinished construction, doping,
and poor attendance out of proportion. He implied that if media played
the game better (I suppose he meant distorted the facts) more sports fans
would have shown up in Athens. Furlong failed to tell us that Athens was
a financial disaster created in large part by Olympic organization mismanagement.
Greece incurred $12 billion in Olympic debt ($75,000 per household). ATHOC
(Athens' counterpart to VANOC) and the IOC lost control early in the planning
stages and it escalated to chaotic proportions as time went on. Unfortunately,
Krieger also failed to caution the audience in both Burnaby and Squamish
that mismanagement is par for the course in many Olympic regions. Even
more unfortunate is that it negatively impacts taxpayers and SMBs more
than it does big business sponsors who can absorb the loss and move on
to fight another day.
Athens 2004 might be construed as a success for John Furlong and big business,
but it certainly wasn't a success from an SMB perspective. As a Greek
SMB, I would have expected to appropriately and proportionately share
in the big business sponsor success too. For example, NBC boasted they
gorged on a record breaking 4 billion viewers while small businesses in
Greece ate cold raw debt.
According to the Globe and Mail, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis
issued a statement revealing that the country's deficit jumped more rapidly
and higher than all other European countries. It shot up 4 times its projected
level and twice the legal limit allowed for European Union member countries.
As a result, bond-rating agency Standard & Poor's dropped the country's
debt-rating outlook from "stable" to "negative" blaming "an accelerating
loss of fiscal discipline" partially related to the Games. They also reported
Greece's fiscal position as the weakest of any major European economy.
Karamanlis placed the blame squarely on the Olympics.
What does this have to do with Brian Krieger at Chamber of Commerce luncheons?
Plenty. To begin with, his plan of supplying free film to journalists
to entice them to report positively about B.C. is ridiculous. Free film?
We live in a digital era. Hardly anyone uses film today, let alone in
2010. Most, if not all media use digital cameras, but it is possible that
Kodak, an official Olympic sponsor, made Krieger a deal he couldn't refuse.
Krieger also makes jokes about plying journalists with donuts. He's mixing
stereotypes and must be thinking of that tired old slight aimed at Vancouver's
It sounds like Krieger is watching too much of "The Simpsons" instead
of doing his homework. Free film and donuts only work in cartoons. As
Homer would say, "Hmm, free goo." or "Ahh Donuts, Is there anything they
can't do?" Click
here for more Homerisms, or here for an audio
Krieger has the right idea in principle, but he makes too big a deal out
of patronizing unaccredited international reporters. He stated his reasoning
is that he doesn't want them to report negatively about our communities.
He used heroin abuse as an example during the Squamish Chamber luncheon,
obviously not caring, or maybe not realizing that Squamish is an hour
drive from East Hastings. The example also didn't have relevance the week
before in Burnaby, but he used it there too. I have a suggestion, instead
of plying journalists with free film and donuts in an effort to get them
to overlook the heroin crisis in Vancouver, Vancouver should fix the heroin
crisis. Krieger must be confusing journalists with Olympic judges if he
thinks he can sway their opinions so easily. Most journalists I know can't
be so easily bought. They might be convinced to distort the truth a bit
if you toss them a free luxury car, West Van mansion, or swank trip to
the Riviera, but you can't ply them with donuts, or especially with film,
which they can get free from their employer -- if they needed it in the
first place. The first time Krieger mentioned it in Burnaby I let it slide
as an off-the-top of his head comment, but when I heard him repeat it
in Squamish I realized he wrote it into his script and that he doesn't
get the big picture for small business.
Like most Olympic organization reps I'm sure Krieger knows what will work
to help big business succeed and profit, but he doesn't have any idea
what small and midsize businesses need - or if he does he's not sharing
it. He waxes poetic about how well Sydney, Australia represented SMBs
in 2000, but he failed to tell us any details about what the mayor of
Sydney and SMBs had to go through with the IOC in order for SMBs to get
their fair share. The reality is that SMBs and the mayor combined forces
to go nose to nose with the IOC in an effort to rewrite rules that would
benefit local SMBs. It was a nasty battle that at one point saw Sydney
snub the official courier UPS and instead use their own local courier
company TNT to deliver Olympic tickets. UPS was so incensed they refused
to renew their sponsorship when it expired. It got even worse regarding
official Olympic uniforms being made offshore in sweatshops hidden behind
shell companies managed by Olympic organizations. Local Sydney clothiers
had to fight hard to get Olympic organizations to live up to their promises.
Krieger failed to mention the shell game controversy.
So far all VANOC has done is pander to the IOC. Last February Jacques
Rogge, president of the IOC, was treated too much like a king when he
visited B.C. No one at either VANOC, the mayor's office, or the provincial
political sector stood up for the small business perspective. In fact
they disappeared into the woodwork instead of helping small business owners
who are experiencing the wrath of the big business Olympic machine. So
far, the only group to represent SMBs fairly is news media. Furlong and
the Campbell Twins Larry and Gordon are too busy socking away wheelbarrows
full of money from sponsors like Bell, HBC and RBC to find time to help
Don't misinterpret my allegiance. I value corporate sponsors because without
them the Olympics would not exist. They make it all possible. In fact
I had a really good conversation at the Squamish luncheon with a rep from
Bell. He concurred that it was very important for Bell to look locally
for suppliers and made it clear they were going to be very careful to
respect businesses in the region. He assured me it was in Bell's best
interest to use local talent and suppliers while building the 2010 Games.
It was reassuring to hear it directly from the source. As long as they
follow through in this regard I'm in their corner.
I sat beside Michael Chin, CEO SODC (Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation)
during the luncheon. He seemed to be the most sought after person in the
room, and it's no wonder, because the waterfront projects he's responsible
for developing has great potential to revitalize the city.
Michael is a highly qualified engineer who worked for Concord pacific
and has extensive experience developing oceanfront projects. His responsibilities
will include planning, administration, promotion and development of the
79-acre waterfront site that includes a deep-sea port, marinas, ocean
walkways, seaside residences, parks, public market, restaurant, arts and
cultural centre and industrial space.
Michael is in a great position to leverage Olympic momentum, but he can't
do it alone. He needs input and cooperation from everyone in Squamish.
His responsibility will be to quickly take a small community and develop
it into a global player. Overnight Squamish has to go from being a struggling
forestry town to a tourist Mecca capable of hosting world travelers. The
Squamish waterfront has incredible potential to be the jewel on the sound
and the world's gateway to adventure in B.C., but only as long as they
leverage Olympic momentum in a "think local and act global" way.
The resounding message to local suppliers and contractors in Burnaby,
Squamish and all regions surrounding Vancouver is to get your company
up to worldclass speed and do it today if you expect to leverage Olympic
momentum. Companies like Bell are only going to ask once and they won't
go out of their way to find you. Once you're found, which is the easy
part, the challenge will be to prove you can deliver. Time is the immovable
object. Sponsors can always throw more money at it, but they can't buy
time. If you want to secure a contract with sponsors or Olympic organizations
first make sure your company is accurately represented online and then
register at the 2010 Commerce site Krieger manages -- that's the finding
part mentioned above.
My criticism of Krieger might sound harsh, but it's vital to understand
that he manages an
important information database for 2010, and if it is to be effective
for SMBs it's critical that he gets it right. When you register at Krieger's
site, sponsors and Olympic organizations will eventually end up on your
website, and if your online presence looks unprofessional, or even remotely
looks like you can't deliver it's highly doubtful they will even consider
you. Update your online presence and do it professionally with the intent
of attracting Olympic work. Look and act like you're a global player,
and do it today.
I'm also critical of Krieger because in Squamish he failed to tell the
room that the corridor between Vancouver and Whistler is exactly that
- a corridor. It is irresponsible to imply there will be opportunity for
SMBs along the corridor during the Games without also stating clearly
that the corridor is little more than a hallway, a route, a highway, and
unless VANOC does something specifically to make places like Britannia
Beach and Squamish "Stop Off Zones" all the Olympics will do for the region
is artificially inflate house prices, increase property taxes, jack up
commercial rental rates, create complex municipal regulations, increase
traffic, create security nightmares and generate construction havoc. Opportunity
for SMBs is not going to combust spontaneously.
If you are one of the lucky few companies able to supply Olympic sponsors
-- great, but make sure you know what you're getting into when you sign
supplier contracts with sponsors because Olympic organizations and their
sponsors aren't in business to help you profit. Big business shareholders
are profit-centric, but their allegiance lies within. All you have to
do is look to Bill Gates and Microsoft as an example. Also, Olympic organizations
are built on a volunteer model and are always looking for a hand out.
They never pay market value for anything, so beware. If you want more
information in this regard click on "Leverage Olympic Momentum" at the
end of this article.
The reality is that most SMBs (approximately 95%) have nothing that Olympic
organizations or their sponsors will consume directly. But don't worry,
because ironically, if you're smart and know how to manage it properly
this is a good place to be if your plan is to profit. Operating on the
periphery is a lucrative zone as long as you leverage Olympic momentum
properly. Most companies that supply products and services to Olympic
organizations DO NOT profit in the way you might think, so if you have
ideas of making a killing forget it. Fortunately, if your goal is to generate
more substantial revenue there are ways to leverage Olympic momentum.
For example, let's take a closer look at Britannia Beach and Squamish.
Land prices have gone through the roof since the Olympics were announced.
Whether they like it or not, like the rest of us, residents and SMBs in
these areas will pay for the Olympics. The question is, if they have to
pay shouldn't they also profit? Many companies that do not have products
or services for direct consumption by Olympic organizations or sponsors
wonder what they have to do if they want to profit. Basically, they have
to "ambush" the spectacle.
Olympic organizations hate the "ambush" word, and I don't blame them.
So do I. Instead, think of it as leveraging Olympic momentum. Olympic
organizations use the word "ambush" because it has a negative connotation
and they want to elicit public sympathy the same way record companies
try to convince us that if we download music it will hurt musicians. The
reality is that big record companies hurt small musicians more than consumers
do. Companies like Wal-Mart also wreak havoc with independent businesses
in the community. In a similar way many Olympic organizations "ambush"
communities when they mismanage and leave countries drowning in debt.
Do you really think Greek taxpayers are happy to be stuck with a $75,000
US per household debt that will take them generations to pay off? Who
is ambushing whom?
If you want to profit you have to figure out on your own how to leverage
Olympic momentum. Olympic organizations won't help you cannibalize their
brand. You have to fight hard for your right to share the wealth. And
although no one is going to hand it to you on a platter, you will be surprised
how Olympic organizations will help if you don't throw it in their face
or tap directly into their revenue stream. Think global corporate selfish.
Your plan should be to first support your own cause, but also create a
secondary, or back-story strategy that appeals to them too. Put yourself
first. They won't like it, but times change and they have to evolve too
if they want to survive.
A formidable challenge for Britannia Beach and Squamish is that Olympic
fans are going to be driving past their businesses in chartered busses.
Many people don't realize it yet, but during the Games the plan is to
have the Sea to Sky highway closed to private vehicles.
I'm sure, as you've sat patiently waiting in bumper-to-bumper dusty construction
traffic on the Sea to Sky, that you rationalized the inconvenience by
saying to yourself, "The payoff via the steady stream of cars bearing
Olympic fans in 2010 will be worth it." Well I have a surprise, if all
goes to plan the only private cars allowed on the highway during the Games
will be locals and people on Olympic related business. They will be business-oriented
and not on casual tourist outings. Athletes, coaches, trainers and officials
will have a lot on their minds and be focused on the competition.
Salt Lake City is a good case study. They had a similar plan to bus everyone
over the Wasatch mountains in an effort of efficiency, and to protect
the environment, but it literally fell through at the last minute when
they were forced to divert more money to sport venues and logistics instead
of rebuilding the highway and protecting the environment. At the eleventh
hour they slashed environmental spending from $5.5 billion to 1 billion
and had everyone drive their cars over the inadequately prepared highway
to Park City. When sport fans arrived there was no place to park. At the
last minute they clear cut forest to create temporary parking facilities.
It was a disaster for the environment and everyone who lived in the area.
How do I know all this? Pemberton resident, Olympian and ecologist Hillary
Lindh spoke to a group of developers, architects and engineers last year
at a day long seminar hosted by Vancouver law firm Singelton Urquhart.
Hillary was a member of the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee Board
of Trustees and gave us an inside perspective. You
can read more about her story here.
If you live in Squamish you might be thinking . . . maybe the same thing
will happen here and all those sports fans will be driving their own cars
through the corridor. Well it's possible, but more than likely they'll
be shuttled on busses, at least that's the current plan. As we saw in
SLC, no one knows for sure what will actually occur, but whether people
are shuttled or they drive themselves, put yourself in the place of an
Olympic sports fan. Envision that you're James or Mary Smith from Great
Britain. You flew half way around the world to see "Eddy the Eagle Jr."
and your total cost for flights, lodging, food, event tickets is $20,000
You land at YVR and stay in a Vancouver hotel. On the morning of the event
you board a bus or jump in your car and head for Whistler. Keep in mind
it is early morning dead of winter and you have already invested $20,000
to get to B.C. How keen do you think you will be to stop off in Britannia
or Squamish on the way to the big sport event -- the one you flew half
way around the world and paid a fortune to see? As an eager fan will you
be willing to risk stopping off for tourist related activities on the
way and chance having the highway closed due to a snow or ice storm? Not
likely. Once you get on that bus or in the car you'll want to express
to your destination in Whistler. (People flying in and staying in a Whistler
resort will be even less likely to stop.)
I know what you're thinking. That makes sense. I'd do the same thing even
if I lived in Seattle. The most important thing for me that day would
be to get to the competition zone. But after the competition, on my way
back, I'm definitely going to stop off half way to check out all those
interesting signs we saw on our ride to Whistler early in the morning.
Unfortunately, this is the conversation that will likely take place on
the way back . . . "Honey," Mary says to James, "I'm tired. We were up
really early this morning, I'm still jet-lagged, my feet are killing me
and I just need a warm soak in the tub at the hotel before dinner. Besides,
by the time we get to Britannia Beach or Squamish it will be dark, and
you know dear, it is a long winding mountain road in the middle of winter.
I'd feel much better if we just went straight back to the hotel and went
to Granville Island or Gastown tomorrow." Granted, some busses will do
a milk run, but I'm betting most Olympic fans will opt to express through.
Do you think Krieger should have painted this more realistic picture instead
of the "Rah Rah Rah think of all the opportunity cheer?" Don't get distracted
by Olympic hype. Olympic organizations are in business to make a profit
for themselves, their sponsors and shareholders. Not you. They've being
doing it since 1896 and are very good at selling the set of encyclopedias,
one book at a time if necessary. Get over it. It's a fact of big business
In fairness to Krieger, he did say that raising visibility would be a
company's best bet, and that the greatest gain would come after the Games
left town. That's one of the reasons he told the room that Sydney Australia's
tourism industry grew "after" hosting the Games. Olympic reps are pretty
smart to mix retail and commercial opportunity anecdotes and use one to
get you excited about the other. If you are a commercial supplier or subcontractor
you have a different set of motivations or needs compared to a retailer
interested in tourist traffic. Unfortunately, most Olympic organization
reps fail to distinguish the difference and they mix it up in a big ball
of confusion. The stats they quote don't transpose across different business
models, so be careful. What you heard and what you thought you heard can
be quite different.
Krieger also failed to share with the room that in the years preceding
the Games tourism usually grows substantially, especially when local tourism
boards manage it properly. In fact in many regions the increase in tourism
before the Games is greater than it is in the year after the spectacle
leaves town. Local businesses stand to generate more revenue in the ramp
up than they do during and after. The reason Krieger failed to impress
this upon everyone is because he doesn't want you to eat into Olympic
profits. If tourists arrive before the Games it is less likely they will
return in 2010. One way Olympic organizations make money is by having
visitors arrive during the actual seventeen-day event. During the spectacle
it's not a coincidence that retailers without Olympic-licensed merchandise
generate little revenue, if any at all. Some businesses close down during
the chaos. Krieger didn't tell us that either. He also didn't tell us
that resort traffic dies off considerably because locals don't want to
deal with the construction chaos. The year before the Games can be quite
sparse for many resort businesses. That's a fact and the reason you will
have to work hard to make sure tourists know you exist. If you plan and
execute properly, ramp up tourists can counterbalance the local resident
Krieger and Olympic organizations have a civic responsibility to give
you a heads up, but they have no incentive to lead you by the hand and
spell it out for you. Once they warn you their job is done. They have
no legal or ethical responsibility to make you profitable. That's your
job. Olympic organizations count their success in the billions of dollars.
They don't share with anyone unless they have to or they are forced. It's
dangerous to think of the Olympics like you did when you were a kid. Today
it is a different game rife with corruption, fraud, doping and cheating.
The Olympics has evolved from the sports-centric model we knew when we
were kids into a profit-centric model managed by multinational corporations.
Remember, you don't get what you deserve. You get what you negotiate.
If you are starting to get the picture, but now thinking, "I knew it.
There's nothing in it for me!" you can relax, because you have plenty
of options, but you'll have to learn to think differently. No one is going
to hand you anything. If you want it, you'll have to fight for it and
actually compete with Olympic organizations.
One thing is certain -- it won't be as easy as you thought. For example,
to add another level of complexity to the picture, consider that Britannia
Beach is only a short drive outside of Squamish. That short ride might
as well be ten hours when you consider that even if you negotiate with
VANOC to let buses stop half way between Vancouver and Whistler, the question
is will the stop be in Britannia Beach or Squamish? You can guarantee
one bus won't stop in both places. It's going to come down to what you
have to offer and how well tourists have been primed for your specific
offering. It will depend on how excited you get them before they drive
by. Thank goodness you have a great website!
Krieger did say one thing very clearly, start now and create your plan
to raise your visibility independently. I'm betting most people didn't
hear it, let alone are prepared to take the best advice he gave you, so
I'm going to add, "Don't count on anyone or anything.
Plan for all eventualities and do it today." ....
*Ed. Note: We invested over three years and a six-figure budget researching
Olympic organization relationships with sponsors, contractors, suppliers,
partners, etc. The results surprised us too -- mouseover below
Have a comment?
Learn more about the challenges small
midsize businesses face. Leverage
Olympic organizations are
BIG BUSINESS MACHINES that attract corporations like Kodak,
CocaCola, McDonald's, Wal*Mart, etc. Consequently, VANOC (Vancouver
Organizing Committee) will be stretched thin trying to also develop ways
to assist small and midsize businesses leverage Olympic momentum. Surprisingly,
many people don't realize the event can also be lucrative for smaller
businesses including agriculture, manufacturers, entertainment, technology,
retail & obviously tourism, even when they don't have products
or services that appeal to Olympic fans or serve a direct Olympic need.
The information we share here is invaluable in helping
small and midsize businesses leverage Olympic momentum.
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