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  • Tuesday Talk - Westfield Stratford City on Remaining Spaces, Social Legacies


    01/31/12

    Mark Zimmer, Head of London 2012 Brand Alliance, Westfield. (Marketing Week)
    (ATR) Westfield's head of London 2012 brand alliance tells Around the Rings "we’re still very much open for business" to sponsors, National Olympic Committees, broadcasters and others looking to showcase themselves during the Games.

    Mark Zimmer has more on the hospitality options, logistical challenges and social legacies presented by Westfield Stratford City in this wide-ranging Tuesday Talk.

    Around the Rings: What sort of space is remaining at Westfield Stratford City for hospitality, showcasing and broadcast purposes during the Games?

    Mark Zimmer: We’ve got two very good quality showcasing sites which we’re still taking quite a number of inquiries on for showcasing but also for NOC housing. They’re very very well located. They’re ground level, big spaces – sort of about 1,800 square-meter size – and directly overlooking the Olympic Park. I mean, literally across the road from the main entry to the Olympic Park. They’re perfect spaces for significant brand showcasing, and we’re talking to a number of NOCs regarding their potential opportunities there as well.

    The British Olympic Association and Australian Olympic Committee have already booked floors in Westfield's mid-rise hospitality complex with commanding views of Olympic Park. (ATR)
    Those are the showcasing sites. Obviously, they could also be used for corporate hospitality. We’ve got one remaining roof-top space which would require a temporary build, and we’re talking to a number of organizations about going up there. In fact, a non-sponsor organization can go up on that area because it’s outside of the LOCOG signage restriction area.

    And then we have a couple of corporate hospitality options within a vacant building we have which is the closest vacant building to the Olympic Park.

    We have the well-publicized Altius Lounge, which is a pay-as-you-go corporate hospitality lounge which we are marketing at the moment. It’s unticketed, but for a number of organizations we’re finding who’ve got tickets but don’t have the budget to justify building their own house or don’t have tickets in the Olympic Park every day, it’s perfect to just turn up. It’s fully staffed, fully suited out and fully catered. We’ve spent something like half a million pounds on the fit-out. It’ll have high-quality catering all day, and it’s a simple turn-key operation. The minimum order we’ve had so far is for about four tickets on one day, and the maximum order we’ve had is for 300 on one day as well, so that’s proving very popular as a very flexible solution.

    And then in the same building with superb views across the Olympic Park, we have an area for either one large or two or three smaller dedicated hospitality suites, so we’re still very much open for business.

    ATR: Who is Altius catering towards during Games-time?

    Altius is open to "anybody who's got a ticket," says Zimmer. (WSC)
    MZ: Anybody who’s got a ticket, actually. We’ve got a mixture. We’ve got some Olympic sponsors, quite a lot of sponsors of foreign NOCs who have accessed their tickets perfectly legitimately but are looking for some hospitality space.

    We’ve got a couple of international federations going in there, we’ve got some international trade bodies – if you look around sort of the traditional peripheries of an Olympic Games, everybody who handles medium-size corporate hospitality programs. It’s a very wide range, and the thing is based where we are, unless you have access to the IOC Club, which a lot of these people don’t, there’s no other option really in Stratford. If you want to be able to offer your guests corporate hospitality at Games-time close to the Olympic Park, Altius is really the only option or certainly the facilities within Westfield Stratford City are the only real options you have now.

    ATR: What about the mall itself? What sort of Olympic presence exists there already, and how will that ramp up as the Games approach?

    MZ: Right now, obviously, just by virtue of where we are it’s impossible not to have on Olympic presence. Obviously, we are a 2012 partner now, and you’ll be seeing in the coming months more activity beginning to ramp up around that.
    This walkway approaching Westfield Stratford City will be one of the primary entrances to Olympic Park. (ATR)
    Right now, even within the mall area, we have a viewing gallery that we’ve specifically set aside to allow people to have a great view from inside the mall of the Olympic Stadium. A lot of our tenants who are also Olympic sponsors are beginning to activate. We’re beginning to see that sort of activity coming through, and a lot of our media similarly, so it’s very much commercially seen. I think we are beginning to activate, and sponsors are beginning to activate in our domain, probably a little bit ahead of the wave at the moment.

    So you come down here, you definitely get a sense that the Olympic Games are coming down the tracks, and probably more so than if you were anywhere else in London at the moment.

    ATR: What challenges remain ahead for Westfield as the Games approach?
    Shoppers quickly flooded Westfield Stratford City following the mall's Sept. 13 opening. (Getty Images)

    MZ: I think probably our greatest challenge is brought about by virtue of the fact that we’ll have over 70 percent of the spectators walking through our mall to get to the Olympic Park, so we’re beginning to prepare the mall for that.

    We have a very very close relationship with LOCOG on an operational level. Over the next few months, you’ll begin to start seeing us de-clustering, as we call it, so removing any potential obstructions to the spectators that will be flooding through the mall during the Games period.

    That’s a big challenge. We sit within the vehicle lockdown zone, so we’re inside the vehicle security perimeter, so from June our car parks become out of action. We have to manage our access regimes. At the same time, we have to supply over 300 retailers, so there are some big logistical challenges for the mall that come from being this close to an Olympic Games, and that’s the flip side of the great opportunities that we have as well.

    ATR: Can you touch upon the legacy Westfield Stratford City hopes to create for this area of London after the Games?

    MZ: I mean, it’s not a case of “hoping” to create. Frankly, we’ve already created it.

    There are two things that Westfield will deliver for a legacy for the Games. First of all, we will ensure that the Olympic Park doesn’t become a white elephant. If you look at the number of people that we have going through our mall now before the Olympic Games, when the Olympic Park is fully opened and welcoming guests post-Games, then we’re almost guaranteeing that there will be a large volume of people that will be taking a look at and wanting to walk into the Park. In terms of preventing the Olympic Park becoming a bit of a wasteland, I think we’re creating the traffic to stop that.
    An artist's rendering shows the completion of what Westfield is calling "a whole new major city in east London." (WSC)

    In a social context, we are employing 18,000 people in this mall at the moment, and a significant percentage of those are from the local community getting long-term jobs and not short-term contract work. We’re bringing a significant number of people off long-term unemployment to work in the mall. We’re investing in a skills training program, we have a retail academy that we have developed inside our mall which helps local people in particular with their interview skills but also gives them sufficient retail training and understanding to effectively provide a valuable workforce to our retailers.

    We can’t really deliver on any sporting legacy objectives, but we can certainly ensure that the Park remains an integrated part of London. And on the social legacy, I think we’re already delivering it.

    ATR: Anything I’m forgetting to ask?

    MZ: We’re very keen obviously to flush out the last few remaining people who are interested in either the showcasing or the hospitality space that we have. We’re full-steam ahead to sell these last few sites. We’ve now sold probably 85 percent of our inventory, so we’ve had a huge amount of success and we’ve got some big sponsor activations.

    We’ve actually got one that’s already been completed, we’re handing another over on Wednesday which you will be seeing a significant amount of activity around, so there’s a lot going on.
    At least three broadcasters will build Games-time studios atop Westfield Stratford City. (ATR)

    The other area we haven’t touched upon is broadcasting. We already have three broadcasters who will be building studio facilities on our roofs, and we’re engaging very hard with the remaining broadcast fraternity. We’ve got a couple of rooftop sites which aren’t suitable for corporate hospitality but still have amazing views of the Park, so probably next week the broadcast community will start to see a significant amount of marketing activity from us as we reach out to them to secure these last couple of broadcast sites.

    Interview conducted by Matthew Grayson.

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