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Volume 20 No. 42


Citi is bringing its Olympic hospitality home.

Rather than limiting its hospitality to Sochi, the company is renting a loft in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood where it will host employees, clients and customers from Feb. 18-23. Citi is the only sponsor of the U.S. Olympic Committee doing on-site hospitality in the U.S., and sources estimated that it will spend more than $1 million over those six days.

“After the 2012 Games and our evaluation of what we did well and could improve upon, we felt like there was an opportunity to engage with our clients on a more personal level around the Olympics,” said Tina Davis, senior vice president of corporate sponsorships and marketing. “The Olympics is one of those things that everyone engages with and we thought there was an opportunity to engage with our customers.”

Like Citi, the USOC also decided to expand its hospitality offerings from Sochi to the U.S. The organization is hosting five hospitality events in four U.S. cities next year (SportsBusiness Journal, Oct. 21-27).

Both the USOC and Citi’s plans are driven in part by the challenge of reaching Sochi, which requires a 20-hour flight from many U.S. cities, and a belief that there’s an opportunity to give more customers Olympic experiences by creating domestic events.

“We like to look for client engagement opportunities beyond the actual events,” Davis said. “The Olympics is the perfect sponsorship to do that with because it’s not here in the U.S., and even if it were in the U.S., the number of people who could experience it would be limited.”

The loft Citi is renting will hold 300 to 500 people. Davis said Citi is still planning, but she expects the loft will host morning, midday and evening events. Citi doesn’t have an estimate of how many guests it will host. Some days it may be as many as 1,000, on others far fewer.

Guests will be able to view the Olympics on projector screens and TVs. There will be athlete appearances and interactive elements, such as a small luge course.

The company plans to issue invitations to the hospitality center in January. Davis said success won’t be determined by a traditional return-on-investment measurement.

“We’ll reach back out to the clients and colleagues and see if they walk away with the sense that Citi enabled them to have a richer experience with the Olympics,” Davis said. “It’s all about employee and client engagement.”

Lead Dog Marketing, which was selected in an agency review held this fall, will run the hospitality center.