27 Jul 2021

5 ways in which businesses can make the most out of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games


The 28th July marked 1 year to go to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games 11 days of sport, a global audience of up to 1.5bn and a not far off £800m investment.

It's a once in a generation opportunity - but how can businesses play a part in it?

Here are just 5 ways in which local businesses may want to consider getting involved:

1) Employee Engagement

The Games is set to be the feel-good opportunity of the year (and after 2020 and 2021, won't we all have earned it!). Businesses can use the Games as a great opportunity for engaging their employees and capturing some of that feel-good sentiment for their business through:

Hosting groups of employees at the Games (click here for information on tickets)

Exploring options for supporting staff in volunteering (click here for information on volunteering)

I've spent a fair amount of time speaking to my counterparts in previous Games host cities in recent years. For Glasgow Chamber their stand out memory of the 2014 Games, above and beyond all that they did to link businesses in to opportunities, was ensuring every single member of their staff had the opportunity to attend a Games session - and the pride they felt at being part of it.

On volunteering, it is a not insignificant time commitment. Different businesses are looking at it in different ways - some supporting employees in taking the time as holiday and/or unpaid leave. Some are offering a set number of paid “volunteering days” for use in Games volunteering alongside holiday. A small number have offered employees the opportunity to “apply” internally to be a volunteer before selecting a small number at random to support in taking the opportunity - keeping absences manageable operationally while still making the most of the opportunity.

These are just a couple of formal ways to get involved - there will of course be lots more opportunity for engaging teams - everything from just for fun office sweepstakes through to encouraging employees to take part the arts and cultural events and activities that will be happening

2) Customer & Stakeholder Engagement

I'm always up for any excuse to show off this region and our business, and I suspect I'm not alone in that. The Games will be a great way to engage customers and stakeholders (anyone from suppliers to head office contacts depending on your business) through:

Hosting groups at Games events (click here for information on tickets - information on corporate hospitality packages will be made available later this year (2021))

Looking at creative opportunities to tap into the Games spirit…

Bringing key guests to Games events could be a great way to network, develop and build relationships in a lively environment - catching some world-class sport while you're at it.

It's also an opportunity to think about how we engage with our customers or audiences more widely. Now - the Games logo and branding itself is strictly protected and should not be used for any promotional activity (or anything at all not okayed by the Games themselves) but content promotions and offers aimed at those visiting the region during the Games or tapping into enthusiasm for sport during and in the run-up to it, could absolutely be on the table. It's an opportunity to be creative.

3) Expanding your horizons

The Commonwealth Games is the ideal catalyst for starting to do, or expand doing, business with Commonwealth markets. It is also an opportunity for the region to market itself on the global stage as a great place to invest:

Connections for businesses to Commonwealth markets - The Greater Birmingham Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce (click here for more information)

International Trade Advice and Support from local Department for International Trade Advisors (click here for more information)

Marketing the region internationally - The WMGC Business and Tourism Programme (click here for more information)

There are 2.4 billion citizens across the Commonwealth. It is a collection of highly diverse markets some ideal for those new to international trade thanks to shared language and similar systems. Some more complex ideal for the seasoned exporter and importer.

The GBCC's Commonwealth Chamber was founded in 2018, in part to contribute to a positive legacy from the Games, and it aims to facilitate trading relationships between local businesses and international markets (with a good dose of connecting likeminded businesses to share experiences too). It's a great way to learn more about what opportunities and markets may be a good fit.

Plus of course, the UK Government's Department for International Trade are delivering a range of Commonwealth themed webinars over the coming weeks and their International Trade Advisors (some of whom we employ here at the GBCC) are able to support businesses in their export journeys.

Finally - the Business & Tourism Programme (BATP). Led by the West Midlands Growth Company, aims to promote the West Midlands and the wider UK as a worldclass destination for tourism, trade and investment and (among a few other things) to increase inward and capital investment from Commonwealth nations and other overseas markets.

It's all about showing the region at its best - right now there's limited opportunities for businesses to get directly involved in the BATP but watch this space as we get closer to the Games.

4)Winning Business

With major investment in infrastructure such as the Alexander Stadium and Sandwell Aquatics Centre and the logistics of delivering a massive, multi-site sporting extravaganza - there are opportunities out there to win business.

Commonwealth Games Organising Committee contracts (click here for more information)

Contracts via the Host City - Birmingham City Council (click here for more information)

It is also always worth keeping an eye out for which businesses have been awarded major Games contracts as there may well be some supply chain opportunities for local businesses there.

Now, not every business will be able to win a Games contract for a myriad of reasons and many have been issued already. However, that's no reason not to look at what opportunities may become available. And of course, the sports economy is global - if the Commonwealth Games has sparked your interest and you reckon you've got an ideal product or service, it could be an opportunity to explore opportunities with major sporting events the world over too.

5) Supporting the Community

There will also be a number of opportunities for businesses to get involved in ensuring a positive legacy from the Games for local communities.

United by Birmingham 2022 Legacy Charity (click here for information to follow)

If your business is thinking about how you can make a positive contribution through Corporate Social Responsibility - volunteering outside of the core Games programme or donating to/fundraising for great charities and community projects - watch this space, there's exciting initiatives to come.