Olympic torch route - making it work for your business

The Olympics isn’t just about the Games. From the middle of May the Olympic torch will be travelling the country, marking the start of the events.

The Olympic torch relay presents both opportunities and risks for businesses across the country. You need to be prepared for disruption – but with some forward planning you can make the torch route work for your business.

Where is the torch going?

The Olympic torch is travelling some 8,000 miles across the country. In addition to visiting every county, the route will also include every local authority in Northern Ireland and Scotland, and every London Borough. Beginning in Land’s End on 19 May, it will travel for more than two months before eventually travelling up the Thames and arriving at the Olympic Stadium on 27 July.

See the full Olympic torch route.

What will happen in the places it visits?

The Olympic organisers are encouraging people to “line the streets” to watch the torch pass. Whether or not this happens remains to be seen – and, of course, there are many areas in which this simply will not be possible.

But it seems certain that the torch relay will bring an influx of visitors to the places it passes through. In addition to the daytime events, Olympic organisers are anticipating that entertainment will be laid on at the final location of each day’s relay. It is thought that a two-hour show will be staged at each location, with the relevant Local Authorities invited to programme some of the entertainment.

How can my business use this opportunity?

The Olympic torch relay presents businesses with both opportunities and potential problems.

If yours is a consumer-facing business, and your premises are on the relay route, you might well be able to harness the increased footfall when the torch arrives. Consider ways that you can leverage the influx of people that you are likely to see during the day. How can you make your business more visible? For example, you might consider printing flyers and having staff members hand them out, perhaps along with free samples. Alternatively you might design an Olympic-themed window display to encourage people to visit – although you should be careful not to fall foul of the marketing restrictions outlined below.

It is also worth remembering that opportunities may not be limited to the day the torch passes through. If your business is based in an area that will be hosting evening entertainment, you may well find that the anticipation starts to build some days before the event itself. Again, you should consider ways that you can align yourself with this. You might consider laying on a special Olympic-themed event on the day or evening before, or run an Olympic-themed promotion, for example.

You should also remember, however, that the torch route may also bring potential problems. The most significant of these is likely to be transport-related. Remember that roads and other transport links will be affected by the visit, and that your employees may have difficulty getting to work. Make sure that you factor this into your plans and, if necessary, consider making arrangements for affected individuals to work from home. You should also consider the potential impact on your suppliers. If you rely on daily deliveries, you should speak to your local authority to find out whether these are likely to be affected by road closures.

Are there other restrictions?

There is a series of important rules and restrictions that you need to understand, particularly with regard to marketing materials.

Despite the fact that we are obviously all paying for it, only a very select few are allowed to use the Olympic imagery. Unless you are an official partner, you are not permitted to use any of the Olympic “marks or terminology”, or give the impression that your business is in any way associated with the Games.

You should also remember that many of the normal trading restrictions, including rules on Sunday trading, will still apply. In addition other restrictions will apply in Event Zones, including limitations on mobile trading. Read more about these restrictions on the Olympics website.

This is the second part in a new series on the Olympics and your business. Read the first part, on vital preparations, here.

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