Two years on from the London 2012 Olympic Games, the UK is set to play host yet again to one of the largest sporting events in the world – the Commonwealth Games, hosted by the city of Glasgow in Scotland. Glasgow 2014 may not quite be on the same scale as London 2012, but the crowds will still be high.
On the 23rd July, and over the following two weeks, 6,500 athletes from 71 different countries will be taking part in 17 different sports for the right to win a gold medal. 2,500 journalists will be attending the events and with more than a million tickets sold, the number of additional visitors to Glasgow is expected to exceed 100,000.
So what does all this mean for business continuity planners? For many organizations events like this are a dream come true. Investment in the city in order to rebuild infrastructure over the past few years has been high with many local firms reaping the benefit. During the Games, retail outlets will do a roaring trade as the visitors spend their money on souvenirs, food, drink and, seeing as it’s the west coast of Scotland, probably a few umbrellas and rain coats.
For some organizations however, whether getting into the spirit of the Games or not, there will possibly be some disruption during the two weeks.
If you’re an employer then it’s highly likely that a few of your staff will want to attend some of the events or take leave during what is normally the holiday period. Have you taken this into consideration and made suitable arrangements?
Transport networks will be stretched to the limit as trains and roads become busier than normal. Have you made suitable arrangements to ensure your staff can get to work or perhaps work from home instead? If you work in the transport industry, are your customers or suppliers aware that there might be some delays? For such high profile events, security is always an issue and this can slow things down even further.
If you’re a retailer then the increase in visitor numbers means your stock may go quickly (that’s a good thing) but how quickly can you replace it in order to take an even greater advantage of the circumstances? With international events such as the Commonwealth Games, language can often be a barrier. English may be the common language for many of the countries competing, but there will be many other languages spoken too, do you have the ability to communicate with non-English speakers?
Let’s not forget the extra strain that will be placed on the communications network, do you rely on your mobile phone, and can you guarantee it will work when so many other people are trying to use theirs? There may be a similar issue with broadband if the network starts to reach capacity.
Of course, with all the excitement about the influx of new customers, businesses mustn’t forget their existing customers, those people who will (hopefully!) still be there long after the Games are over. Do they know what your arrangements are during the Games and have you considered ways to reduce the disruption to them?
A major event such as the Commonwealth Games brings plenty of opportunities to the host city and the surrounding area, but everything comes at a cost. If you prepare properly however, and consider what disruptions could affect your organization, then plans can easily be put in place to ensure that this cost is not high and is far outweighed by the positives.
Andrew Scott is the Senior Communications Manager at the Business Continuity Institute who joined after a brief stint working as the Press Officer for a national health charity. Prior to that he had over ten years at the Ministry of Defence working in a number of roles including communications and business continuity. During this time he also completed a Masters in Public Relations at the University of Stirling.
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