Opinion: New Olympic brand rules are another false start

PROFiT chairman and Teletext head of compliance Barry GoochGuidance produced for the travel sector about how it can promote the London 2012 Olympics does not go far enough for those travel firms that were hoping to play a big part in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

A further relaxation of the rules by Locog, the London games organising body, would be welcome.

This week, Margaret Hodge, minister of state for culture and tourism, told Travel Weekly that if travel companies are really careful they can “say almost anything” when promoting the games.

However, from reading the guidelines, I would argue travel agents are still largely restricted in how they can market the event and completely prohibited from selling tickets.

In essence, the guidance says information and references to the games can be used in promotions as long as they are ancillary to the product and not prominent enough to give the impression they are games-themed or associated with the games. 

In practice, this means you can claim a hotel is conveniently located for games venues as long as you also state the location of the hotel; or a coach operator could say it was putting on additional services for the games.

If you are careful, it is possible to advertise special offers that are general in their nature, such as ‘London: 7 nights for the price of 5 in July 2012’. But any specific games-related offer is prohibited.

The key point is that the protected and restricted terms and logos remain off-limits to travel agents. Accordingly, anyone hoping to be part of this one-off opportunity will need to exercise great care to avoid committing an offence.

And the most important restriction for our industry remains in place: Olympic tickets are still strictly off-limits to all but official resale agents. This means that the vast majority of companies will not be able to sell a package that includes tickets.

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