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IS UK Plc ready for the biggest event to hit our capital city since the last Olympic Games in London, held at Wembley Stadium in 1948? The London Olympics 2012 should be high on the agenda for any travel manager expecting to keep business as usual, but that’s very unlikely unless sufficient preparatory work began months ago. “I wrote a paper for the board four months


ago,” says Chris Pullen, head of facilities and procurement at civil engineering consultancy Hyder Consultancy. “You have to plan ahead,” she says. Hyder is based in London’s Victoria, right in the thick of the mayhem that will inevitably envelop London this summer. Pullen believes it will affect staff absenteeism,


as people will want to take time off during the Games. “Just think of the Royal Wedding,” she says. Hyder’s strategy is to allow only essential travel and to cancel all accommo- dation in London. Employees will be accommodated in Guildford instead. Strategies for the Olympics period include home working, hot desking, working from regional offices, taking holidays during the busiest period and cancelling all but essential travel. Any business critical staff may need to be accommodated in Reading, St Albans, Guildford or Watford rather than London, and it may be in apartments rather than hotels. Moreover, TFL (Transport for London) is asking businesses to find alternative ways to travel into work as it needs to achieve a 30 per cent drop in regular commuter traffic in order


to accommodate the extra volume of visitors expected in the capital. Heightened security will also lengthen journey times. The extra visitor numbers are staggering. Some 23,000 athletes, 17,000 media, 8,300 Olympic officials, 7,000 people representing the Olympic sponsors and 5,000 Olympic families, will be descending on us. “TFL has not done enough,” argues HRG's managing director Europe North, Ian Windsor. “The logistics via road are going to be a key challenge; it’s going to be chaos. Asking for a 30 per cent drop in commuter traffic is a massive ask – it’s not going to happen.” Furthermore, crunch time is not just July 27


to August 12, the dates of the actual Games, but begins four weeks earlier – at the end of June – when all the various Olympic visitors arrive. Athletes will be going off to training camps and they are scattered around the country, as are venues for events outside the Olympic Park in East London. “There are some 600-plus training camps


all over the place that may include your local tennis club,” warns Gill Collier, head of strategic client management at Expotel. The company has produced an 18-page White Paper for its clients advising how to put together an Olympics strategy. Windsor, Weymouth and Portland, plus Broxbourne, Benfleet, Wembley, Glasgow, Cardiff, Manchester and Newcastle are the non-London event hosts, so transport links feeding in and out of London will be busy too.


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