Viewpoint: Comment - Two hot topics - the Olympics and CSR - come under the spotlight


Few events demand a lead-time of several years, but when it comes to hosting the largest sporting event in the world, there's no such thing as being over-rehearsed.

Since winning the Olympic bid in 2005, the organising bodies have had to endure a barrage of negative press that has ranged from questioning the merits of the logo, through to the inner wranglings of the budget.

I like to think that the event industry press has approached the project with more amicable zeal. Certainly as preparations gain momentum it's difficult not to be drawn into a united enthusiasm for the impending challenge.

At last month's International Confex, Visit London - supported by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games - unveiled plans for a London 2012 Business Events Fair Pricing & Practice Charter. Such an initiative, which has support from trade bodies including the EIA, Eventia and ISES, signals an industry commitment to producing ethical, professional surroundings when the Olympics arrive. Proof indeed that organisers are learning from previous hosts' mistakes.

Similarly, in last month's issue we reported the introduction of a website for agencies wishing to pitch for projects surrounding the Games. The London Business Network launched the Compete For service as a broker between buyers and potential suppliers and an invaluable business resource for UK suppliers. The service reports that London 2012 will have around 7,000 direct contracts up for grabs, offering an impressive boost to UK commerce.

This year marks 100 years since London first hosted the Olympics. The industry has recognised this in a fitting manner by rising to the challenge and bedding down the appropriate measures that will, we hope, ensure 2012 is an unrivalled success.

- (Claire Bond is associate editor of Event)


There is no doubt corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a hot topic within the world of events right now. If people aren't fretting about how green their event is, they are having sleepless nights about how it might impact on the community where it's taking place. Even for those who are still not convinced by it all, the issue is proving too important to ignore.

Last year, the Meetings Industry Association carried out a survey that questioned event organisers about the growing influence of CSR on their event planning. The results showed 64% of associations and 77% of corporates thought CSR would be extremely or somewhat influential over the next ten years, most of them agreeing that it is already influencing some aspects of their day-to-day job.

The reality is there has always been a push from society to do responsible business, but in today's conscientious world, the pressure to produce ethical events has never been stronger.

The burning question, though, is not how long CSR has been around, or even how influential it is within the sector, but whether placing too much emphasis on it can be bad for business. The event industry has a moral duty to pay back society for what it takes out, but we must not forget the primary objective for any business - be it a corporate conglomerate, supplier or agency - is to be commercially successful.

Some companies already practising CSR have allowed the concept to permeate their every decision, reasoning that acting responsibly can only help to enhance a brand's reputation and bolster business relations.

However, placing an unnecessary importance on CSR simply to impress customers can be as damaging as not taking it into consideration at all - and can lead to higher costs and poorer quality events.

If it is to be used successfully, CSR needs to be more than a PR exercise. It's not about making random charitable contributions or introducing policies regardless of whether they are relevant or not, it's about assessing what you can do to manage the impact of your business on society more responsibly and then making a lasting, organic commitment.

- (Chantelle Thorley is a reporter at Event).

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