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Regional Business News
regarding the 2010 Olympics
in British Columbia, Canada


OlyBLOG is for businesses across Canada, especially in Vancouver / Whistler and throughout B.C. We also hope companies in Alberta and United States (i.e. Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and California) will find OlyBLOG interesting and informative.



  Leverage Olympic Momentum
OLYMPIC BUSINESS SECRETS
SALT LAKE CITY EXPOSED


VICTORIA'S COMMONWEALTH GAMES
INITIATE OLYMPIC UPROAR - 5 YEARS LATER


B.C. REPUTATION RUNS AGROUND . . . AGAIN

CONTEST - WORST WEBSITES IN AN OLYMPIC REGION

Your competitors voted for the WORST sites on the internet in various industries, and in our next issue we’re going to feature the weinners. Look for details below and see if your site was nominated !!

SHIPS SINK IN ENGLISH BAY THOUSANDS LOST AT SEA

CAN I GET A COFFEE & A PAIR OF PANTIES TO GO?

GENERATE FREE PUBLICITY AND BOOST BUSINESS

MAYORAL RACE/SMALL BUSINESS/THE OLYMPICS

SALT LAKE CITY OLYMPIC BUSINESS SECRETS

_____________

We ran an informal poll at one of our online networking groups, and discovered that 62% of participants felt the Olympics caters primarily to elite athletes and large corporations. Only 4% felt it benefited SMBs.



VICTORIA'S COMMONWEALTH GAMES
INITIATE OLYMPIC UPROAR - 5 YEARS LATER


All stories have a hero and a wild card, but usually they are not one in the same. In 1994 at Victoria’s Commonwealth Games an Australian Aboriginal runner sparked controversy that reverberated around the world.

After placing first in the 200 and 400m events Cathy Freeman ran a victory lap with both the Australian and Aboriginal flags raised high. It attracted vast international attention and criticism. People in Australia applauded her courage, while sport officials denounced her for bringing politics to the event.

As a direct result of her actions, five years later Australia decided to include the aboriginal flag in the list of official flags flown in the Sydney Olympics. It was a turning point for the common person's perception of Olympic organizations. Hundreds of thousands of sports crazy Australians continued to support, but also protested how the Games were managed.

In 1999, a year before the Sydney Olympics, Gary Foley an aboriginal activist published an article about the prospect of Cathy winning an Olympic gold medal in 2000. He stated that even if she won it would not have any affect regarding the oppression Aboriginals faced over the previous two hundred years, nor did he think it would make any difference in what happens in the future. He didn’t think it would change hardcore racists attitudes or create opportunity for aboriginal youth, or free any of the Aboriginals in Australian jails. It turns out Foley was so incredibly wrong.

In spite of Olympic organizations working hard to keep the “real” aboriginal story out of the Games, Cathy’s Olympic gold medal and the events leading up to it changed the world forever. Her small gesture in Victoria created momentum that eventually opened the world’s eyes to inhumanity.

At the Sydney Games in 2000, rock alternative band Midnight Oil brazenly challenged Olympic organizations during their Closing Ceremony performance and brought to light the plight of Aboriginals in Australia. Olympic organizations were incensed that the Olympic stage was being used for social and political purposes, but there was nothing they could do about it.

During Closing Ceremonies Midnight Oil wore black shirts and pants imprinted with the word "sorry" in white lettering while they performed Beds Are Burning -- a song about returning Australian land to Aborigines. The aboriginal group Yothu Yindi sang immediately after their set. The message reverberated around the world.

On the ramp up to the Games many Australians expected huge riots as disenfranchised Australians used the international media exposure for social gain. It escalated to the point where people were concerned about terrorism, bombs and shootings. It became so unsettled that Nelson Mandella, Desmond Tutu and “The Hurricane” intervened to try and calm the Aboriginal community.

As a gesture of recognition, over a quarter million white Australians walked across the Bridge to say sorry to Aboriginal groups waiting on the other side.

Needless to say it was also a pleasant surprise when Cathy Freeman, an Aboriginal, lit the flame at the Opening Ceremony.

Thousands of white people carried placards around the Games with the word "sorry" written on them while others said sorry to Aboriginals they didn't even know as they passed them on the streets.

People were saying sorry for the Stolen Generation -- sorry for the aboriginal girls who are STILL taken at 9 or 10 years old from their homes in the outback to work as slaves and unpaid prostitutes for the white bushies.

They said sorry for ... third world conditions, squalor and diseases, alcoholism, drug addiction, prostitution, suicides in jail, unemployment, that they felt uncomfortable in their presence, that they stole their land, forced Aboriginals into communities in the lands they didn't think worth keeping, and then when gold, diamonds, oil or gas were found under those same lands passed laws to take it back.

They said sorry that their nomadic way of life was destroyed.

Sorry that Tasmanians hunted Aboriginals down like animals in the bush using dogs, nets & guns.

Sorry that they then moved shiploads at a time to islands off the coast and left them without food, water or weapons to hunt ... and sorry that none survived.

Australians demonstrated that in spite of incredible resistance from Olympic organizations, passive aggressive protest works.

You have to look beyond the tree to see the forest. No one is saying it is easy to leverage Olympic momentum, but you shouldn’t give up before you even start the race. Look beyond the obvious. Create your own path through the forest and find new ways to leverage Olympic momentum. Climb one tree and keep moving once you reach the canopy. The view up there is exhilarating.



CONTEST - WORST WEBSITES IN AN OLYMPIC REGION

Your competitors voted for the worst websites in various industries, and in our next issue we’re going to feature the weinners.

We’re also going to publish CASE STUDIES of the worst website in each industry and explain step by step why it’s hurting their businesses.

Just kidding . . . there is no contest
... because the winners would be ... well ... losers.

Email us if your heart just stopped. We perform online CPR.

CLEAR!

If you have a bad website you don’t need a contest to tell you so. You know who you are. Unfortunately your competitors know who you are too. In fact they probably send potential customers to your site to comparison shop.

As for the rest of you with GREAT sites – sorry to disappoint, but we couldn't be cruel (or open ourselves to litigation) by publishing a list of bad websites. Sending prospects to your competitor's bad site is interesting though isn’t it? It’s surprising how many reps do it.

We don't want to leave you empty-handed, so instead here's a short list of some of the better west coast websites we've seen lately. We didn't design their websites, nor do we have any affiliation with them, but we like how they've represented themselves online!!

CarlWood Lumber - Maple Ridge

Chemical Lime -
Langley

Wickerwerx Gift Ideas -
Burnaby

McFarlane Green Architecture -
North Vancouver

Genesis Security -
Vancouver

Richmond Plastics -
Richmond

Fired Up Catering -
Seattle

Email Area46 if you want a website like the ones above . . .




B.C. REPUTATION RUNS AGROUND . . . AGAIN
Dismiss it if you will, but the recent Queen of Oak Bay bumper-boat fiasco negatively impacts how people around the world regard us.

When business people in the global community consider investing in our products it doesn't help when they associate our province with things like ferries running aground ... or a premier arrested for drunk driving, a farmer charged with murdering fifty women and feeding them to his pigs, a member of parliament who stole a $64,000 ring from a merchant, parliamentary assistants who were charged with drug smuggling, an international airport that was at the centre of one of the worst air bombing disasters in history, a province whose biggest cash crop is marijuana, etc., etc. How is it possible we've amassed such a string of liabilities? Is it just bad luck, or are we asleep at the wheel?

A couple of weeks before the bumper-boat accident my wife and I watched a ferry (possibly the Oak Bay), back away from the dock at Horseshoe Bay. We were at the government pier chatting with a local resident who walked down from his condo to see what the extra ship-horn blasts were all about. When the loaded ferry backed away from the dock, instead of continuing on it’s route like normal, it did a 3-point turn in the outer harbour so it could reposition itself to have the aft screw propel it.

The friendly local standing with us said that over the last few sailings he heard four long blasts from this ship’s horn, which he knew signified an irregularity so he eventually wandered down to see what it was all about. Being Vancouvians we thought something was different too, but didn’t clue in until he pointed out that the ferry had a dead screw (propeller) on one end. (I love these nautical terms.)

In retrospect, was it another silly little $1.15 cotter pin? Ferry spokespeople and media reported that the Oak Bay accident was caused by a missing cotter pin, and that there is no way the captain or well his well trained engineers could foresee the breakdown. However, common sense tells us there had to be some small sign leading up to the accident -- a shimmy, a shake, or maybe something like backing up all the way to Nanaimo to give it away.

As 2010 approaches maybe we should
be paying more attention to details.


Two weeks after the accident media finally started to report a growing list of problems with B.C. ferries.

Why do we always wait until we crash and burn before we make changes? I can think of a half dozen other critical areas that foretell how we will manage the Olympics, and all of them have to be dealt with today if we want to be ready for 2010.

For example, in most Olympic regions property costs initially go through the roof in the first couple of years after the bid is won. It's a great way for governments to justify huge tax increases that will help pay for the Games. In some regions responsible governments step in early before it causes undue hardship for residents and businesses, and they pass legislation to keep landlords and the real estate industry from encouraging gouging. In most regions though absolutely nothing is done and the bottom falls out. The odds of government intervention is slim because it would slow tax increases -- short term greed wins every time.

In B.C. the government is still attributing credit for rising property values to something wonderful they have purportedly done. They refuse to give proper weight to the fact that the Olympics has had an overwhelming impact in boosting everyone's confidence. People with confidence invest and spend, and that's exactly what we're doing.

Here's a good litmus test. Health care is in a shambles. Health care is one of the benchmarks by which you judge the health of your economy. If health care is sick, the economy is sick. Don't let politicians fool you. All this growing economic excitement is a result of Olympic frenzy.

If we hadn't won the bid we'd still be plodding along. Fortunately things are moving forward, but there is no guarantee it will continue after the Games leave town so now is the time to leverage the energy. Get while the gettin's good. Wait too long and the opportunity will pass you by. Pay closer attention to the details and it'll be easier to see the big picture.

If it was a cotter pin that caused the Oak Bay to run aground maybe we should pay someone to keep track of cotter pins.

You can bet that if someone died in the accident insurance companies would soon sort out what really happened. A paltry million dollars in property damage though is hardly worth the effort.



SHIPS SINK IN ENGLISH BAY
THOUSANDS LOST AT SEA


Speaking of details, and while I’m in seafaring mode, let me offer my take on why the “Sea Vancouver Tall Ships Festival” also ran aground and lost tens of thousands of dollars. You're going to have to forgive me if I sound a little more intense about this than normal. I promoted thousands of special events for millions of people over a twenty year period, and it irks me to no end when the patron's satisfaction isn't placed at the very top of the list.

Promoters in local media reported that inclement weather sunk the ships. Not likely. I’ve seen Vancouverites trim their hedges with electric clippers barefoot in the rain. Rain doesn’t stop anyone around here from doing anything. Media also reported that long lines turned people off, which makes it even worse because not only did no one show up, but the few who did had to wait in line for three hours.

Sounds like another cotter pin saga. Unfortunately, long lines here aren’t out of the ordinary. For example, last week we drove to Steveston eager to take in their festival. We watched incredulously as thousands of event-starved mainlanders waited in really, really long lines to pay $10 for a chunk of salmon charred to a crisp, or for a hot dog, or for some type of sweet confectionery, or a toilet – take your pick.


We were literally surrounded by long lines splayed out in all directions. It was claustrophobic even considering that it was outside. Sheeple waited in line everywhere. I didn't see any missing cotter pins but I did see the results of bad event management.


We stumbled around in the crush for about half an hour before we bailed and vowed never to return, much the same way we vowed never to return to Apple Fest at UBC and it’s similarly long and ridiculous lines where we also waited forever only to experience nothing we couldn’t find more easily and cheaper at Granville Island. The bus shuttle at UBC had hour-long lines that delivered us to overpriced plastic bags of apples.

It was the first apple-fest I’ve ever been to where the vendors didn’t provide samples. If you wanted a sample you had to wait in another line half a kilometer away and pay extra for it. Once you found an apple you liked you had to go back and search out the respective orchard and wait in another line to buy no less than five pounds in prepackaged bags.

Frustratingly, most of the young sellers didn’t know anything about their product, except of course for the high price.

You might be wondering why stuff like this is important, or what makes me even qualified to express an opinion. It's a fair question. As I said above, for almost twenty years I managed special events attended by millions of people around the world. They were mostly live performances for sometimes up to 65,000 people. Many were televised and videotaped and not only attended by the general public, but also high-ranking politicians, dignitaries and often sponsored by large corporations. Based on this experience, when I attend a special event at home here in the Vancouver area it's easy to see that in comparison to other regions around the world that many promoters here struggle to produce an affordable event that is a good experience for the patron. Many of these same promoters will eventually be responsible for Olympic events and it's pretty clear that they don't fully fathom their responsibility respective of the people attending the events.

Needless to say, I am a very tough ticket consumer. When you waste my time and money I get as angry as a grizzly and have no hesitation in ripping a piece off of irresponsible and especially conniving promoters. I'm tired of bad movies, bad concerts and bad events and when I run into them I demand my money back -- immediately. Unfortunately though, it is usually to no avail, but it does drive my point home to the person in charge.

For example, when I searched out the promoter of Apple Fest to express frustration he was ecstatic that so many people showed up and he wasn’t concerned at all about unhappy customers. He thought he did a good job just because he attracted a crowd. Once bitten twice shy. Most people who have had a bad experience won't return to be subjected to it again.

Consumers must be respected or at the very least seriously considered. The problem in Vancouver is systemic. In general we have one of the sloppiest styles of service in the world. It's way too relaxed. When I go to a restaurant and pay $60 for a meal for two, and the server comes up to the table and addresses the table as "you guys" the tip decreases immediately and dramatically. I'm not there to make friends with the staff. I expect to be served professionally. Laid back Vancouverites might find my perspective arrogant, but I guarantee that Vancouvians (people who moved here from other parts of Canada or the world) won't think so, and neither will Olympic visitors. Even McDonald's has more respect for the customer. Half the restaurants in the region somehow think they have a buddy relationship with their clientele. Attitudes like this permeate the whole service industry. It's the client's experience that counts, nothing else.

Everything we do for the next five years should be geared to creating a better image for ourselves respective of the Olympics. It's one of the reasons we are hosting the event. If we please the customer the benefits will be returned to us tenfold. We have to do things that at least create the perception of a successful operation, and speaking of perception, based on my experience managing events I see another issue on the horizon that isn't being managed properly and that will have negative repercussions down the road.

The Pacific Coliseum is replacing their seats. It sounds like a simple task, but considering all the difficulties Athens had in 2004 with attracting spectators to the sporting events, everything thing you do to create a perception of a full house is important. Keep in mind it's not important to fool spectators who attend the live event. It's important to fool TV viewers into thinking that the venue is sold out. We want people from around the world to think we are capable of professionally promoting events, at least we do if we want to attract conventions to the city in latter years.

How do the seats at the PNE play into all of this? It's simple. Every performing artist and their management company in the world will tell you it is important to leave the perception with fans that the event was sold out. Surprisingly, some venues do a better job of it than others. Some venues can make a half-sold venue look almost full. How do they do it? You're going to find the solution so surprisingly simple that you'll wonder why all venues don't adopt the policy.

University basketball stadiums in the U.S. were the first venues to do it. When a new team was added to the league it usually took a while to build it's popularity. Promoters wracked their brains to figure out a way to make a stadium that seats 20,000 look full even if they sold only 10,000 tickets. The team didn't have a big budget to"dress" the venue with draping to make it look smaller, so instead they came up with a brilliant strategy to make it look like there was a bum in every seat. No, they didn't use inflatable dummies, instead they used multicolored seats.

Part of my responsibility managing live events was settling the show box office receipts, therefore I had to estimate how many people bought tickets for each event. Management companies rarely trust the promoter, so it's important to come up with a foolproof ticket accounting system as well as a way to "eyeball" the crowd. Over the years I became pretty adept at taking a five minute look at a venue and estimating within 5% how many people were in attendance, except of course in venues that used multicolored seating. These venues were almost impossible to estimate

What is multicolored seating? Quite simply it means that venues don't install one color seating in entire sections. Instead they alternate seat colors. For example, along every row you would find random color patterns of red, blue, green, beige, black, etc. Not only was the pattern horizontally random, bit vertically too. It was incredibly hard to see dead seats even when whole sections were empty, and I'm referring to standing on the floor looking around. On a TV screen it is impossible to see how many people are in the venue.

You might be wondering why all hard-seat venues don't adopt this policy. It doesn't cost any more to do it. The seats are all priced the same and it's just as easy to install a blue seat as it is a red one. Granted, some seat manufacturers will give you a slight break if you order all the same color, but it is so minimal compared to the benefit of multicolored seating that it is moot. Plus, for every manufacturer that charges a bit more, you can find five that won't. It's also not any harder for patrons to find their seats, in fact ... it's actually easier. So why don't facilities take advantage of this simple camouflage solution?

The only reason, and I'm stressing the ONLY reason, is because an entire section of all blue or red seats looks better when the venue is empty. That's right, when the venue is empty. It looks prettier empty. Does anyone really care what the venue looks like when no one is looking at it it? It's the old when a tree falls in a forest does anyone hear it fall riddle. Who cares? The only person who cares is the person charged with the responsibility of buying the seats. It's an ego thing. When it's complete they can bring colleagues into an empty venue and say, "see, look what a beautiful job I've done. Everything matches." Form over function wins out so someone can put in their resume that they are capable of matching their socks to their shoes. Give me a break.

Dick Ebersol (CBS - the Official Olympic TV broadcaster) is already criticizing Vancouver. He thinks our city looks like hell because the exposed hydro and telephone wires ruin the vistas on our streets. He wants us to bury them, at our expense, or he is threatening not to shoot the city during the Olympics. Basically, even though I hate his arrogant attitude, I can't really argue with him. He's right. It is ugly and it's the reason many cities bury everything. Unfortunately, we've been a have-not province for so long that burying wires is the last thing taxpayers need, so instead we look rickety and get used to it. We don't see it anymore, but Dick Ebersol and the rest of the world will. Well actually they won't because Ebersol isn't kidding when he said he won't shoot vistas of the city. He won't and if you doubt it all you have to do is look to the Olympics in Atlanta when he fired camera operators on the spot who disobeyed his order. If you don't play by his rules, you don't play in his sandbox.

Back to the ships -- inclement weather is not the main reason Sea Vancouver sunk. In the promotion business one of the cornerstones to success is price. As a spectator I was excited about boarding the tall ships -- until I saw ticket prices. It was a money grab, and in a city like Vancouver where many people are becoming house-poor and cash-strapped few could afford a ticket if they also wanted to pay the rent and eat next month.

It’s better to get $20 from 100,000 people than it is to get $50 from 20,000. We wanted to see the ships, not buy them.

Developers, real estate agents and landlords are artificially inflating the cost of living and doing business in our Olympic-frenzied region, and it’s only going to get worse as we approach 2010. If we are forced to pay so much for property, taxes, food, transport and clothing the average person will have to take a pass on overpriced mismanaged events.

Media reported that, “Poor ticket sales are being blamed for Sea Vancouver’s financial woes.” There you go again blaming your tools. Vancouverites are always blaming Ottawa or the Americans or Albertans for something, but they rarely take responsibility for their own mistakes.

Poor weather or ticket sales didn’t sink Sea Vancouver. Poor event management did. Poor ticket sales is the direct result of bad management. Treat the disease not the symptom. The Titanic sunk because the captain thought the ship was indestructible and he wasn’t paying attention. If the best city in the world in which to live can’t even promote a tall ships festival, what do you think will happen when the Olympics hit town?

Moral of the story . . . don't leave it up to anyone to ensure your Olympic success. It's obvious the pros are drowning. Don't let them drag you under too. Buy a lifeboat, a life jacket, get a good compass and steer your own course.




CAN I GET A COFFEE
and A PAIR OF PANTIES TO GO?


On the global music circuit Vancouver has a sleepy-town reputation. It’s no secret that entertainers have a hard time getting local audiences off their hands.

I know, I know, you’re a rambunctious party-animal at Tom Jones concerts, but in Calgary women actually take their panties off during the show and pitch them in from the 20th row. Women here bring an extra, neatly-folded clean pair to place demurely on stage. Very proper and respectful mind you, but not quite the same effect.

It seems we know the routine, and we want to play the game, but we're not willing to expend too much energy doing so. Oh, and men, you're not any better, in fact you might even be worse. It's amazing how many people squander time at networking groups instead of getting out and cold calling prospects. Obsessive networking is a lazy person's sales strategy. Quite often the only one winning at networking events is the person organizing it. Networking is important, but it can't carry the show for most companies.

I have a theory -- negative ions have a calming effect on people. Wide-open spaces such as oceans and their breaking waves create a high concentration of negative ions. Coastal mountains trap negative ions, plus, an abnormally high amount of people (pun intended) smoke pot in Vancouver. Do you see where I’m going with this folks?

We are laid-back-organic to the max. If we could bottle and sell Vancouver's negative ions in Calgary and Toronto it might chill them out a bit and give us an edge.

It’s not a coincidence that we drink so much coffee.
We have to in order to keep our hearts pumping.

The ramp up to the Games over the next five years is the most critical time for small and midsize businesses, especially those who have nothing to sell directly to Olympic organizations or spectators.

As you can see below in the Salt Lake City collection of quotes from local SLC business people, the Olympics brings with it some very tough times for SMBs. You'll see below that no matter what local Olympic organizations and media lead you to believe, it costs more to live here and operate a business in an Olympic region.

It gets confusing because if you own a business in an Olympic region you have a tremendous opportunity to find new customers and grow your business, but you have to become incredibly competitive. You can't continue to sit back in sleepy-time laid back mode and expect to leverage Olympic momentum.

Take time today to figure out if your company is really up to global speed, or if you've become a bit too complacent because all you've done or had to do for the last ten years is compete locally. Whether you like it or not the Olympics will create an incredibly competitive market. It attracts aggressive people from all over who recognize how great the opportunity is, and they will work hard to steal your business.

Remember too that B.C. has been a have-not province for a long time and it's only been recently that things are looking up. Operating a business in a have-not region is tough. In one sense you've had to learn to become creative to survive, but in another way you've not had an opportunity like businesses in Alberta or Ontario to invest in and polish global business skills. It is now time to think differently and invest in a future that looks extremely promising. Be aware though that it won't automatically take you along for the ride. You're going to have to make a conscious decision, trust in yourself and invest in your company to get it up to Olympic and global speed.

Now is the the time to grow. If you wait it will pass you by.

For all of you who stick to the, "I'm west coast and I'm not changing for anyone or anything -- it's the way we do things here." Good luck. Keep that attitude, but why on earth did you invite aggressive Olympic organizations into your region? If you don't take advantage of it, someone else will, most likely a competitor from out of town.



GENERATE FREE PUBLICITY AND BOOST BUSINESS

Like an iceberg, 90% of free publicity is submerged.

But just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. You need a good captain to help you maneuver around it safely -- someone with expertise and who pays attention to details.

Do you consider yourself an expert in your industry?
If media quotes you regarding stories about your industry it raises your visibility, and if you do it properly it heightens the respect people have of your company. It positions you as a trusted expert.

Do you believe everything you see or hear in media?
Everyone has an agenda. Truth is often subjective.

Why do your competitors receive so much media attention?
It's not a coincidence that a competitor is quoted constantly in the media. Some companies clearly understand the process and work it effectively.

Media Promotion skills can be learned. The best way to learn is from someone with experience. Training immerses you in situations that will prepare you for all eventualities. It also inspires you to develop solutions specific to your business.

Click here to learn more about leveraging free publicity . . .



MAYORAL CANDIDATES
SMALL BUSINESS
THE OLYMPICS


Peter Ladner is waffling about entering the Vancouver mayoral race. Maybe it's just as well because Vancouver doesn’t need a mayor whose primary concern is large corporations. We need someone who will represent the interests of small and midsize businesses, especially considering that 98% of business in this province is small and midsize.

2010 has placed Vancouver / Whistler in an increasingly bright spotlight. Ladner shot from the hip and publicly criticized a small Vancouver business when Olympic organization lawyers first attacked the Olympia restaurant (998Denman.com), Ladner, like other media and councilors had a perfect opportunity to present his position in a more balanced manner, but instead he chose to automatically side with big business.

Like most people it seems he doesn’t realize how the Olympics will adversely affect small and midsize business in the region. Unfortunately, it also indicates he doesn’t know how to help SMBs leverage Olympic momentum. We need a mayor who gets it. Ladner actually said he doesn’t think it’s a politician’s job to help businesses figure it out.

On November 16, 2004 in his regular “Business in Vancouver” column Ladner wrote, “We're all going to have to learn to stay out of the direct heat of the Olympic flame, anywhere we might be burning some sponsor benefits.” By sponsors he was referring to Olympic BIG business sponsors like Bell, RBC, HBC, Rona, etc.

Ladner is buying into Olympic propaganda without learning all the facts. I'm not suggesting or advocating copyright or intellectual property infringement, but if SMBs want to profit from the Olympics they have to stick a branding-iron straight into the flame and figure out how to imprint the region's elevated visibility onto their enterprises. Olympic organizations are counting on Ladner’s response. For the most part they want SMBs to recede into the shadows so Olympic organizations and sponsors have free reign to monopolize the event. Don’t do it. Get in there and rewrite the rules, and don’t, as Ladner implies, tuck your tail between your legs and wait for the Olympic tax bill to arrive. Athens is $10 billion U.S. in debt after the 2004 Games. That’s $75,000 per Greek household. Ironically, SMBs in Greece chose “not” to get close to the flame and they got burned big time.

When I emailed Ladner regarding his criticism of the Olympia restaurant he emailed me back stating, “The bizarre nature of the Vancouver City Council motion was that the council somehow assumed they could help small businesses re the Olympics. How?”

How? His one word question floored me. Ladner was referring to city council kicking around the idea of putting together an information package to give small and midsize businesses an idea of what they can do to leverage Olympic momentum. (Ladner opposed investing in the package. Apparently he doesn’t think it’s a good idea to give SMBs a heads-up.)

The Olympics can be good for a region, but only if it’s managed properly. Considering that the government got us into it, they should help SMBs profit from it. I realize they have no incentive to do so because it undermines the BIG box Olympic profit machine, but sooner or later someone in one of our governments has to offer tangible advice specifically for SMBs before we end up like Athens or Salt Lake City.

You probably thought all was well in SLC. Check out the quotes from businesses in Utah in the article below for a few eye-openers. Here’s one to get you started -- Lisa Cover, production manager for Vanguard Media, Salt Lake City, "They're not taking care of the local businesses," she said. "It's all about the spectators. We're a small business. We could go out of business because the Olympics came. That's not fair."

It’s interesting to note that Councilor Jim Green, who is also entertaining a run at the mayor’s position investigated the Olympia restaurant's position before he voiced a public opinion. As a result he felt Olympic organizations were heavy-handed and wants them to back off and treat small and midsize businesses with respect in regard to Olympic issues. He admitted he has no power to force the powerful Olympic organization to play fair, but he did at least wish the Olympia the best of luck.

Councilor Green met with Mosi Alvand, the co-owner of the Olympia restaurant before he issued a statement to media regarding the matter. Whereas Ladner didn't seem too interested in getting a balanced picture before he made his comments. When the Olympia tried to contact Ladner's office to tell their side of the story they reported that they were stonewalled by Ladner's secretary and after chasing around for a while gave up in frustration. Councilor Green met with Mosi almost immediately after the controversy erupted. Interestingly, Green was a member of the “Impact of Olympics on Communities” coalition. Jim Green gets it.



SALT LAKE CITY OLYMPIC BUSINESS SECRETS

Local media in Salt Lake City published the info below in the ramp-up to, during, and after the Olympic Games in 2002 ...

Retail Business Down - Many merchants who expected the Games to bring them business were disappointed. Pedestrians filled downtown streets, but Joan Nay, of Sam Weller's Bookstore said, "There's a real party atmosphere outside. But we're not seeing a lot of shoppers."

Not all businesses share in the wealth - The 2002 Winter Games have been both boon and bust for Salt Lake and Park City businesses. Boon if you sell fast food, Olympic pins, or anything with those five interlocking rings. Bust for scores of other retailers hoping for a windfall from the throngs of international visitors that never materialized.

House Rentals Floundering - The demand for such housing has been increasingly lackluster as the Games draw nearer. Many property management companies are asking homeowners to lower their prices.

Games Didn't Help as Much as Hoped, Tax Official Reports - "As you know, some downtown businesses and ski resorts didn't see the business they had hoped for”, Macdonald told the Legislature's Revenue and Taxation Interim Study Committee.

Downtown businesses outside the core Olympic area complained that crowds didn't visit their establishments and their usual Utah customers stayed away because of lack of parking, crowds and so on.

Post Olympic Job Cuts in Salt Lake City – A poll from Manpower Inc. indicates a rough job market in Salt Lake City following the Olympics. Something economists have long predicted.

Downtown Feels Olympic Squeeze - "We're getting down to crunch time and you're trying to make plans to run a business and you just can't do it," said Fred Metos, who works downtown.

Games Mean Tax Hike - Anticipating a possible shortfall, the Park City Fire District is laying the groundwork for a $2 million property tax increase for Olympic-related expenses.

New closures and downtown gridlock – One month out, as the Olympics approach, downtown Salt Lake City street closures took effect, creating traffic headaches for motorists. And things only got worse.

Store Owners Miffed at Closure of Streets - This is the first time I found out they're closing it off altogether," Ujifuso told a reporter. Now that he can't depend on customers being able to get to his store, Ujifuso said he doesn't know what he'll do to keep his business going during the 17 days of the Games. "I don't know. Go on vacation for two weeks, I guess."

Volunteer Police Left Out in the Cold - Once excited for the opportunity to experience the Olympics up close, Pacheco and other volunteer officers now say their Olympic fire is fading after sleeping night after night in cold, drafty recreational vehicles and eating the same food every day.

Businesses Suffering - West Valley City merchants have a message for locals scared away by Olympic traffic fears: Come back. Now. Please. "We miss you. We miss you," pleaded Julie Batchelor, manager of Amici's Della Cuccina on Decker Lake Drive, appealing directly to regular restaurant goers.


* We invested two years and a six-figure budget researching Olympic organization relationships with sponsors, contractors, suppliers, partners, etc. The results surprised us too -- mouseover below

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