Danny Rogers: LOCOG must not fall at final hurdle

'Olympic ticketing fiasco': it's an easy headline to write. Ticketing for the London 2012 Olympics was always going to be a hugely complex project, with some unexpected glitches. There was always going to be an abundance of 'gutted' punters on which the media could focus.

Danny Rogers: LOCOG must not fall at final hurdle
Danny Rogers: LOCOG must not fall at final hurdle

But has it really been a 'fiasco', from a reputational point of view?

We have had two months' worth of media frenzy now. Millions of people, including me, have been unsuccessful in applying for any tickets. And Locog's spokespeople have certainly been up against it.

I have watched Locog's chair Lord Coe, CEO Paul Deighton and London mayor Boris Johnson regularly defending the ticketing process on television.

Their approach has been robust, sticking to the agreed line that it is a heavily 'oversubscribed' event and many people will be 'disappointed' but that the process is 'fair'.

But, while I admire the sensible and consistent message, and Coe and Johnson's suitably sympathetic tone, the corporate approach has sometimes verged on the arrogant.

One can appreciate that the ticketing system is the result of some hard thinking by great, experienced minds but the project has lacked clarity at times. There has been confusion about the real odds of access to the big events and how quickly one gets a refund on unwanted tickets. Equally the web technology has clearly been inadequate at peak times. From all this, big event organisers must learn for the future.

In perspective, Locog has achieved its biggest objective; it has created a huge buzz around access to the event, a year before it begins. This ticketing system has almost certainly meant that, when the world tunes in next summer, the stadia will be packed to the rafters.

But Locog still faces one major comms challenge in this aspect of operations. It has yet to prove that the 'most deserving' sections of the UK do have fair access.

The most worrying stories have been those of local east Londoners, and particularly those involved in grassroots sports, who failed to get any tickets.

When this is juxtaposed with the thousands of sponsor tickets, it detracts from the 'people's games' message, supposedly at the heart of the Olympic movement.

Does the Locog comms team still have an ace up its sleeve in this respect? Maybe there's still time to work with sponsors - and reshuffle the pack of cards a little.

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