The Games of the XXXI Olympiad begin in Rio de Janeiro in slightly more than 157 days. I know this because there’s a giant countdown clock positioned on Copacabana Beach that says exactly as much. In that time, there’ll be a good deal about the competition to anxiously await – Rio 2016 will debut exciting contests in the form of rugby sevens and golf, will likely see the Olympic retirement of a host of international stars in the form of Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, and Roger Federer among others, on top of being the first games ever hosted by a South American country. Certainly, it figures to be an unforgettable Olympics, and those attending will be hoping it’s unforgettable for all of the right reasons.
Of course, there’s plenty to be done to ensure that – for those in attendance – the summer’s most memorable moments come from international highlights, and not personal mishaps. And that’s why any experienced event manager, corporate hospitality professional, or ambitious traveler will have started making proper preparations ages ago.
My own preparations started a few years back – when preliminary conversations with corporate security teams from many of the sponsors involved in Rio 2016 first began. The time in the interim has been spent on making sure all clients and their guests attending the event are prepared, and making sure that best practices are in place to ensure a seamless and safe guest experience. Much of the focus and planning has been centered on collaboration with a couple of agencies in drafting security and medical contingency plans to support of both international and local staff who are bringing guest hosting programs to life around the Rio 2016 Games.
After all, with the world’s eyes affixed on Rio again this summer, anything can happen. And in light of recent world events, it’s best to prepare for the eventuality that anything will. In 2013, at Brazil’s Confederations Cup, grassroots protests over an increase in public transportation costs swelled to volatile country-wide demonstrations that congested traffic at several of the matches and in the days around the final match in Rio. Arriving at the stadium on match day, for the final between the host Brazil and Spain, in what was essentially an armed convoy, was surreal. Nevertheless, it was planning for that eventuality, once the challenges were recognized after the opening match in Brasilia, which made safe passage possible and also minimized the impact on the attendees’ experience.
This is part of the service world-class corporate hospitality management provides, or should provide – security – but security in the sense that your clients and guests will have their experience protected, and by extension, your company/brand will have its investment protected. This is intelligence vetted through relationships culled the world over, and built on decades of experience that can’t be faked.
Travelers and corporations who attempt to go it alone in 2016 will face a plethora of challenges – an unfinished Metro Line will stall traffic for locals and tourists on a budget, a rocky social and political landscape figures to complicate tensions as stadiums open but hospitals close, murmurs of orchestrated “flash mob robberies” (or, “arrastoes”) have been recently felt again on Brazil’s busiest beaches, and concerns over the risks of contracting the Zika virus continue to spike globally.
Thankfully, Brazil’s public officials seem to be prepared as well as can be expected – from local to national officials, health administrators to security, all reasonable public safety measures that can be taken appear to have been or will be in place come Opening Ceremonies.
The best in our field of global event strategy will tap into relationships with each of these institutions of public good to make sure that guests are informed and every eventuality is accounted for. While everything that happens around the games is unpredictable, there’s one thing you can count on – the events will stick to their global broadcast schedule, regardless of whatever else is going on, and often it can take an expert to ensure on-time (and comfortable arrival). We didn’t invent the rainy day, we just own the best umbrella.
And really, this is why sports fans around the world attend the Olympics – to bear witness to unforgettable moments of unity, triumph and achievement. For me, it was seeing Mo Farah take the gold for my native country – and his adopted one – at the London games in 2012. These are lifetime moments you’d hate to miss because you got in the wrong cab, or worse.
Currently, as they often are, resources – hotels, car services, security details, tickets, dinner reservations, event space, private doctors, etc., – are being claimed by those who’ve acted quickest. After all, the best time to begin preparing to attend an event like the Olympics is years ago, but the second best time is today.