GlobalTV's Brian Coxford takes stock on the patriotic impact of the 2010 Games (video)
It's a year since the Olympic Torch arrived in downtown Vancouver, and the day the Cauldron was lit. By this time last year we here at CityCaucus.com had long since "downed tools" on anything political, and focused 100-percent of our energy on promoting the 2010 Games. It was a good decision.
Daniel drafted a list of free events in late December. I built a digital guide where users could rate venues and leave comments, and we collaborated on keeping the information fresh and accurate. For weeks leading up to the arrival of the torch we had put enormous amounts of energy and time into crafting the Where to Be for Free guide at CityCaucus.com/2010free.
Collaborating with local mainstream media – especially with GlobalTV and CKNW – Daniel and I successfully promoted up to fifty "free" and affordable attractions through our guide and daily 2010 Update reports. We watched the traffic tick upwards, thinking that it couldn't possibly go higher. 5,000 daily visitors, then 10,000, 25,000, and on two occasions we had over 40,000 visitors on the site at one time. On those days we had over 140,000 page views, and on both occasions the site crashed for up to 10 minutes. I made panicked phone calls to my hosting provider and begged them to not cancel my account.
I told the hosting provider that it would all be over soon. It was a huge learning experience in what happens when you go viral on the internet.
We managed to sell lots of ads at CityCaucus.com for the first time. That and very patient clients allowed me to take the whole month off and just cover Metro Vancouver's free 2010 attractions. I didn't go to a single Olympic event. For the most part I avoided line-ups whenever possible, except when trying to buy CANADA swag at The Bay. On sunny and even cool or rainy days I revelled in being at Robson Square, at Richmond's O Zone or Surrey's Live Site.
While there are several reasons for the success of last year's event, we have consistently argued that it was that there was much to do for FREE, and that it was properly promoted through social media – CityCaucus.com, Miss604.com and 2010VanFan.ca in particular – in partnership with our friends in the MSM, that made Vancouver 2010 a hit.
I still recall all the times my iPhone display would read VANOC during those weeks. The Games organizers made a decision that it was not their job to promote free events – they wanted people to buy tickets after all. Every time someone called their switchboard to find out about Ontario House, the BC Pavilion, Place de la Francophonie or a concert at LiveCity Vancouver, they simply forwarded the call to my cell phone.
A couple dozen times per day I would be speaking to travelers making their way to our city from as far as Texas, Seattle, Toronto or Atlanta. They wanted to know where to go, where to park and even wanted to know where they should book accommodations. I was a volunteer cruise director for two and a half weeks, and I loved every minute of it.
Metro Vancouver has much to learn about hosting world class events. What is clear to me is that someone didn't think everything through, and it was the inititiave by bloggers and local news rooms that helped to stitch together a plan for publicity that government couldn't come up with.
We know that British Columbia's Olympic hosting was perhaps the best ever staged in the history of the Games. More average citizens became engaged and involved because there was so much to do on a tiny budget – like ride the Bombardier streetcar, eat chocolate fondu at House of Switzerland, or fly across Robson Square on a zip line.
Games veterans all the way up to Jacques Rogge said that Vancouver had raised the bar. In the future we must remember the great lesson of 2010: involve the people.
Stay tuned for news about a soon-to-be-released project we call The People's Games.
- post by Mike