With a little more than 100 days to go before the start of the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London, you might want to start planning a series of stories or a package, depending on your beat, that ties in to the weeks-long event that will dominate headlines this summer.
A few angles that come to mind:
Tourism. Naturally; the U.K. is a popular vacation spot for Americans and the games (along with festivities for Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee; the 60th anniversary of her ascension to the throne) are bound to be a draw for Olympiphiles this side of the pond.
It’s a wallet-breaker; as this recent Washington Post article notes, the average room rate in central London during the games period will be $341 a night. If you cover transportation, travel, personal finance or other consumer beat, you might consider a package on ‘attending the Olympics on a budget.’ Are Londoners opening their homes to boarders, or through Couchsurfing or similar programs? Here’s a British website that looks a bit like Craigslist, with offers of bed and breakfast for as little as $10 a night “with easygoing lad” to boot. Talk with tourism and travel experts and authors about how to do this safely, how to obtain tickets to Olympic events and avoid fraud or scams. Look in to package tours — what options are left at this late date?
Take the contrarian tack — are any U.S. venues benefitting from Brits who want to be an ocean away from the crowds and chaos of an Olympics summer? Talk to hotel, motel, attraction and rental operators about any possible uptick in inquiries or bookings from London refugees. This Daily Mail article says that millions of citizens are deliberately booking overseas vacations during the Olympics period with some even taking kids out of school early to do so.
Merchandising and advertising. Clearly major sponsors like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola will have advertising tie-ins to the games; check the sponsorship pages at the official Olympic.org site for companies in your area that may be lesser-known sponsors. And of course, check TeamUSA, the official site of the U.S. Olympic Committee, for information about American teams, athletes and sponsorship rules. (I searched ‘sponsors’ on the site and got about 7,000 hits.)
You also should check with area TV and radio stations about advertising sales for game slots, and any other ripple effect the games and coverage will have on the local airwaves, especially given the time change.
Quirky ideas. One oddball thought occurred to me: I wonder if any U.S. engineering or construction firms benefitted during the building of Olympics venues. It’s probably a longshot and for all I know the contract requires local labor (or labour) but you might check with area trade groups just in case. Another idea: When events like this roll round, memorabilia interest ticks up; you can search online classified and eBay (narrow your query by ZIP code) to find locals buying and selling commemorative items from past games.
And last but not least, maybe you can spin some business angles related to the local practice of sports that will be making headlines come July. From martial arts to tennis to softball to kayaking, how are local venues, instructors and equipment sellers doing? What sports are hot these days in terms of sales, marketing and membership?