SBJ/20090817/This Week's News

USOC doubles its plans for Vancouver hospitality

Anticipating above average interest among existing corporate partners in the Vancouver Olympics, the U.S. Olympic Committee will double the size of its hospitality offerings and set up two hospitality sites in Vancouver and Whistler in 2010.

The total square footage of the sites in Vancouver (25,000 square feet) and Whistler (3,500 square feet) is twice as large as what the USOC offered for the Winter Games in Salt Lake City and Turin, Italy, in 2002 and 2006, respectively. It is the first time the USOC has offered two separate hospitality centers, as well. The hospitality center for last year’s Summer Games in Beijing was 42,000 square feet.

USA House in Beijing in 2008 was 42,000 square
feet. Two smaller sites are planned for 2010.

The organization decided to offer two separate sites because of the two-hour drive between Vancouver and Whistler, the site of the skiing, bobsled, luge and skeleton events, and because it anticipates more corporate and business partners will visit a North American Games.

“If we had been abroad, I don’t know that we would have made this decision,” said Jerri Foehrkolb, the USOC’s director of marketing and event services. “Vancouver is so close that even with the economy there’s a better opportunity for our sponsors to bring guests than they would if they took them abroad.”

The USA House facilities, as they are known, host members of the USOC, the U.S. Olympic team, corporate partners, sponsors, suppliers and licensees. The first USA House was erected in Salt Lake City, and it has grown in each subsequent Olympics. It typically serves as a place where partners can conduct meetings, dine or attend after-hours athlete medal celebrations. More than 100 sponsor meetings were conducted at the USA House in Turin, according to the USOC.

Talks are under way with sponsors about
branded sections of the 2010 USA House.

The USA House in Vancouver is located right outside of Yaletown near the city’s downtown in a contemporary apartment building. It will be on three floors. The first floor will feature a registration area, a Team USA store and a media work area. The second and third floors will feature open spaces where visitors can watch events and where USOC staff offices will be located. It will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.

The USA House in Whistler will be located in a private mountain home with a log cabin feel. It’s already been booked by national governing bodies and sponsors for select evenings.

The USOC was able to incorporate sponsors into branded sections of the USA House in Beijing, offering a Hilton Hotels concierge service and AT&T wireless Internet access. It is in talks with six partners about being involved in branded sections of the 2010 USA House, Foehrkolb said.

The USOC has lost a number of partners from the previous quadrennial, including General Motors, Bank of America, Home Depot and others, but Foehrkolb said interest in attending the Vancouver Games remains high.

“We gauged interest from our sponsors and we’re still seeing a consistent level of interest in terms of bringing people to the Games,” Foehrkolb said.

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