Ticketing for the #London2012 Olympics came under fire this week after pictures of hundreds of #EmptySeats at multiple venues where athletes where competing appeared on broadcast coverage. Sports fans at the sites themselves also started to post images on Twitter, forcing LOCOG and the IOC to embark on a face-saving exercise which appeared to backfire after Lord Coe contradicted these images by claiming that venues were ‘stuffed to the gunnels.’
The crisis of course has started way before the opening ceremony when UK residents found it difficult to secure tickets for events, leaving many to question the ticketing process.
At a press conference LOCOG did their best to steer the public anger away from sponsors and towards the Olympic Family by stating that the empty seats were in areas reserved for accredited sporting officials, media and athletes. That though didn’t satisfy the thousands of people that had no luck in the various pre-Olympic ticket ballots that took place.
The standard rebute from LOCOG didn’t do well with the public, who used the #EmptySeats Twitter hashtag to post pictures of half filled venues. Even the IOC’s own Twitter account posted a picture showing a less that filled Table Tennis event.
Social-media has changed the game. Crisis spread in real-time. Twitter gathers people who empathise with the issue. This forces organisations today to have to resolve issues quickly. UK Prime Minister David Cameron was asked about the seating fiasco while travelling to the Olympic Park on the Tube.
There is little room for spin in today’s connected world where the audience questions every defensive statement being issued.
Today, amongst PRs, there is a need of real-time forensic ability to analyse the audience and offer counsel. Some might see this as pandering to the community.. It is nothing like that. It is more a case of delivering the transparency that has been absent for so long.