The Olympic Games: Sports & Purpose Combined with Hospitality Meetings & Events

The eyes of the world will be on London for the 2012 Olympic Games over the dates of July 27 – August 12, 2012. The official slogan of these Summer Games is to ‘inspire a generation’ and I believe it should also inspire the hospitality industry as it will display all that makes us special and reinforces the importance of face-to-face interactions.

 The Olympic Games had an important position in the life of the Ancient Greeks as the Olympiad was a time of getting together every four years. The participants came from every corner of the Greek world to compete for the ultimate prize, the olive wreath and the return to their city-states as heroes. However, the Olympic Games value more than just the victories, it is the noble competition and effort to combine the body, mind, and will in a balanced whole.

Taking the lead from the Ancient Greeks, think of all the important events and the results achieved when people came together:

  • The Building of the Great Pyramids
  • Signing of the Declaration of Independence
  • The Treaty of Versailles
  • Inauguration of Presidents
  • The Wright Brothers Take Flight
  • Man’s First Steps on the Moon

Over the next few weeks, we will see how sporting events bring people together whether it is a youth game, collegiate event or the Olympics. You cannot participate in sports virtually, you must gather together in one place for a specific purpose. The significance of coming together is spelled out in the Olympic Oath and the symbolism of the Olympic Rings:

 The Olympic Oath

In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and honor of our teams.”

 The Olympic Rings

The five interlocking rings represent the five continents brought together by the Olympic Movement, or the five main regions: Africa, the Americas (North and South America are combined), Asia, Europe and Oceania. As it says in the Olympic Charter, the five-ringed symbol “represents the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games.” The symbol of the Olympic Games is composed of five interlocking rings, colored blue, yellow, black, green, and red on a white field. The colors of the rings represent the flags of the countries that participate in the Olympics. Every flag of a country participating in the Olympics includes one of those colors. 


From the Olympic Games, all of us in the hospitality industry can learn the following lessons:

  • Great things can be accomplished when we bring people together for a common purpose.
  • The very best hospitality professionals compete with themselves first. They have a voice inside that says “I know I can do better here” or “I should have done better there”.
  • The athletes teach us to take personal ownership for our performance. We should monitor and measure our activities: telephone calls, personal appointments, and site inspections….to see if by increasing those numbers or improving our service, our results will improve.
  • When creating events we must have a clear purpose with an agenda that will draw in and engage both participants and spectators.
  • The success of the overall event is in the details- we do need to ‘sweat the small stuff’.
  • If we do it all correctly, we will generate substantial economic impact for the local, national and global economies.

Over the next three weeks, our industry is going to shine. People will see all that goes into the coordinating and hosting of a successful event: hotels, stadiums, meal service, transportation, security, etc. Over 350,000 foreign visitors are expected per day and over 18 million meals are due to be served by food & beverage operators. I think we should all tune in July 27 – August 12 to take notes and learn some lessons from the London Organizing Committee as they make all of us in this industry proud!

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