Tim Longhurst's Blog

How a sell-out olympics means rows of empty seats

August 12th, 2008 · 1 Comment

When people say the Olympics has “sold out”, what they may actually mean is that the Olympics are more about “selling out” to corporate sponsors than ensuring people actually see the games live…

There are a number of reasons that Olympic stadium seats are empty in these ‘sold out’ Olympics. Here is the reason I find the most compelling:

Sponsors, media rights holders and government officials aren’t using their tickets; or, they are using their tickets for only a portion of the allocated time (tickets secure the holder a seat for an entire ‘session’, which usually lasts several hours).

The Olympics cost sponsors, media rights holders, government officials and committees (IOC, national Olympic committees and sporting authorities) a lot of time and money, and part of their reward includes allocations of tickets.

So the question is, how do tickets that won’t be used get allocated efficiently now and at the next games? Part of the answer may come from Wimbledon, helpfully, the home of the 2012 Olympic games:

“Wimbledon operates a ticket resale system, with tickets surrendered during the day resold and the proceeds donated to charity.

When spectators decide to leave before the end of a day’s play, they are encouraged to place their ticket in special boxes located around the ground.

These tickets are then re-printed and sold at the resale kiosk, which opens mid to late afternoon.”

This is a positive Public Relations opportunity

Well that’s straight forward: Olympic sponsors / ticket holders could quickly register the tickets they won’t be using each day online… The organisation that releases the most amount of tickets through the system (and therefore raises the most money for charity) could receive some kind of recognition, as a way of rewarding organisations that would otherwise be leaving seats empty.

At these games, though, a more basic system can come into play – if sponsors have tickets they won’t be using, give them away! Just about anyone on the street would gladly receive the gift. It’s much more sporting than just letting a ticket go unused because you couldn’t find someone schmooze-worthy to take!

If you represent an Olympic sponsor (General Electric, Johnson and Johnson, Kodak, Lenovo, Manulife, McDonalds, Omega, Panasonic, Samsung, Visa, Sinopec, CNPC, China Mobile, Volkswagen, Adidas, Air China, PICC, State Grid…) and/or you’ve got an innovative method of ensuring ticket allocations are used, post it!

Zàijiàn! Tim

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Category: Corporate craziness

Beijing’s ‘sold out’ Olympics – no tickets, but lots of empty seats?

August 11th, 2008 · 7 Comments

News organisations and journalists have been reporting that the Olympics are sold out, but thousands of seats remain empty at many events.

Considering how many Beijing locals (and tourists, for that matter) would love to attend the Olympics, the ticketing allocation process is clearly inefficient if so many seats are empty at popular events like beach volleyball.

I recorded a short video to show you what the stadiums look like from a spectator’s perspective:

..oh yeah, and I included a call for London’s 2012 Olympic Organisers to allocate resources to making sure seats are almost never empty.

I’ve got some smart friends and readers. What do you guys have in mind? What technologies could be used to make sure thousands of seats don’t go empty at London’s games?

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Category: Things that make you go hmmm