There’s not much Bill Malone doesn’t know about the day to day challenges of putting on the world’s biggest event, the Olympics, in a small resort town.
He was the executive director of the Park City, Utah, City Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau leading up to and during the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Today Malone is the manager of the Chamber of Commerce and Resort Associations in Park City and the job takes him all over the world as he shares the lessons his town learned in hosting the Games.
Malone recently visited Whistler to chat with businesses as the town gets ready to host the Games in 2010.
Pique Newsmagazine’s Clare Ogilvie sat down with him during his visit to ask what businesses should be focusing on two years prior to the Olympics and what advice he has for Whistler.
Pique: Whistler is just a couple of years out from hosting the Games. What should businesses and the resort be focusing on now?
Malone: The real key for now is making those plans about what are you, the business, going to do. I’m sure there have been corporate sponsors coming to town looking for places to rent already. But what if you are a kitchen gadget store? Are you going to do business or are you going to close up and rent it out to, say, Monster.com or something else? At this point in time on the Games schedule you need to be making those decisions.
In our case there were those who made adjustments in business to cater more to the Olympic crowd. We sort of go through this every year for the Sundance Film Festival, so it is not that unusual for companies to close up for 10 days of the festival and rent their space out to Entertainment Tonight or something.
Our businesses looked at the Olympics like the festival and some businesses said, “the Olympic groups are not my customer. They are not the core of who buys my art, or my bikes,” so they closed up and maybe rented out their space.
We saw ski shops that closed up for the Games and then we also saw ski shops that partnered with their supplier to become the hospitality host for Rossignol or Salomon.
Pique: There are concerns that business will be down significantly in the Olympic year thanks to the myths that always seem to surround the event about price gouging, construction woes, and lack of access to skiing. Should the resort be looking at combating those myths now?