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Li Aiqing:The Chinese Operation of the Olympic venues

The Chinese Operation of the Olympic venues

Li Aiqing
Beijing State-owned Assets Management Co. Ltd

Ladies and gentlemen,
As the curtain for the London Olympics have just been raised, I am delighted to have this opportunity to exchange with the friends from other Olympic cities. I would like to talk about the Chinese operation of Olympic venues.
As we all know, the post-games operation of the Olympic venues have been a conundrum to all, leaving every Olympics struggling to avoid maintaining a herd of “white elephants”, which are the expensive, however, useless facilities.
Beijing State-owned Assets Management Co. Ltd (BSAM) shoulders the responsibilities of the construction and post-games operation of the National Stadium, or the Bird’s Nest,  and the National Aquatics Center or the Water Cube, Over the past 4 years, thanks to the support from all factors of the society,  both venues have achieved virtuous development. Till today, the Bird’s Nest has welcomed nearly 20million visitors, 1/3 of the British population, and has hosted 61 major events, besides more than 500 types of franchised products, with its revenue reaching 820 million RMB. The Water Cube has welcomed over 9.6 million visitors and has hosted 310 major events, Plus more than 1000 varieties of franchised products, the Water Cube has brought in 360 million RMB in revenue. President Jacques Rogge once praised the Water Cube to be the best equipped, the most available and the best run Olympic aquatics center.
I’d like to take the opportunity today to share with you some of our experiences and understandings.
First, the function of Olympic venues requires scientific design, flexible renovation and timely modification.
As early as 2002, during the designing phase, we had a lot of discussions with the design and construction teams on how to capitalize on the post-games venue. After the Olympics, both venues underwent timely renovations, quickly transforming from competition venues to multi-function entities.
On one hand, we focused on the needs of tourists and conducted engineering remodeling to explore into the connotation of venue tourism. Take the Bird’s Nest for example, borrowing from the Olympic legends and the highlights of the venue, we created more than 20 tourist attractions and launched tour of the Torch, tour through the ceiling steel structure, tour of the VIP Golden Hall and the Visit to the Champions’ wall. In the Water Cube, we built an Olympic Exhibition Hall and an Aquatics Sports Exhibition Hall as well as a 3D theatre. Both venues also re-optimized the catering and shopping space, improved the system of tourist signs, established medical care systems, tourist service centers and multi-media tour guide systems, to create a better business and operation environment.
On the other hand, considering the function requirements of diversified operation, we arranged the internal space décor in a flexible way to ensure the speedy switch from competition venues to event venues, as well as to meet the event participants’ demands to the maximum. For example, the Bird’s Nest now holds the Beijing International Tour way, the Culture and Creation Exchange Center and the Olympics Museum.  In the Water Cube, we built the “Magic water cube”, which is Asia’s largest and most advanced all-weather indoor aquatics park. We also built a highly popular multi-function hall for commercial performances, which can easily transform into an indoor tennis courts. We added a shallow water area. After its remodeling, the two venues offer nearly 50% additional spaces to the public, increasing the utilization rate of the venue from 54% to 78%.
Second, transforming the operation perspective from venue management to brand management.
By constructing a world’s top-level competition and performance platform, we aim to raise the venues’ brand influence.
With the goal to serve as a ‘tasteful, high-level and large scale’ platform for international competition and performance events, the two venues have hosted nearly 400 large events.  The Bird’s Nest has hosted a series of large competitions such as the International Equestrian Beijing Masters, the Italian Super Cup and the Race of Champions, etc; and the large scene opera “Turandot at the Bird’s Nest”, “CJK Friendship Concert” and some top Chinese stars’ concerts. The Water Cube brought in many sports events, including the FINA Diving World Series, FINA Swimming World Cup, and China Synchronized Swimming Open. At the same time, the Water Cube has created the performance brand “The Dreaming Water Cube”. These events were praised both at home and abroad, which in turn increased the brand influence of the two venues.
Then we took advantage of diversified management to raise the brand’s market value.
Both The Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube progressively formed a multi-format business mode, witnessing the non-tourism revenue increased from 10% in 2009 to the current 60%, establishing a more optimized income mix. The Bird’s Nest launched the ‘Joyful Season of Ice and Snow’, and hosted a series of brand competition events for the youth and many international top football games. The Water Cube on the other hand has been borrowing the charm of artistic and culture collections by celebrating many exhibitions of painting and calligraphy, photography, high-end products, as well as fashion shows and award ceremonies, building cultural brands such as “The Artistic Water Cube” and “The Dreaming Water Cube”.
Many civic activities have been organized to build the venues’ brand image and reputation.
Even though we insist on the market-oriented business operation of the post-games venues, the principle of ‘serving the society and the people’ has never been ignored. Civic activities have been held all year around to spread the benefits of recreation and fitness to more people, allowing them to experience the culture of Olympics. As for regular visits, the venues are free to overseas Chinese donors, the pensioners, the children, those who are in service and the physically challenged. Relevant groups also enjoy free entry or half-priced entry on special holidays, such as the Women’s Day, the Youth’s Day and the Teachers’ Day.   About 22% of the visitors have benefited from the two venues’ public preferential policies.  Moreover, both venues also hold unique public benefit events throughout the year. For example, the Bird’s Nest has hosted the Bird’s Nest Cup youth series including football, baseball and American football games. The Water Cube has hosted “the Future Start” youth selection match, community swimming competition, large charity concerts for overseas Chinese, and events for autistic children on the World’s Autism Day.  What's more, the Water Cube has significantly promoted the development of water sports in the city of Beijing, by funding Five Million RMB per year for three consecutive years, to support the training, competition and talent development of the swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, and water polo teams of Beijing.   Thanks to these public benefit  events, the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube not only have become the “people’s venues”, but also have benefited from the good image and reputation.
Building around “brand awareness”, we worked on brand influence, value and reputation, transforming the passive management of venues to the management of brands. We hope these two venues can become a successful cultural and sports brand supported by the sports venues in not only China but also the World, by blazing through a new trail for intangible assets of China’s large sports venues. This is to serve as the main source of diversified business revenue and the engine to sustainable development for the future venues, moreover, it is the essence of post-games operation and management of the Beijing Olympic venues.
Thirdly,  it’s important to innovate and plan ahead to support the operation of the venues.
For the sake of effective and efficient operation, we started, in the very beginning of the construction phase, to roll out our plan for developing our own performance companies, sport competition companies and ticket agencies. In 2010, we incorporated these companies into the Beijing BeiAo Group who shouldered the responsibility of the planning and execution of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, further integrating the Olympics resources and the culture resources, giving birth to a cultural and sports cluster made up of two Olympics venues and one culture group. Our culture company masterminded many influential competition and performance brands for the two venues, which greatly prompted the development of the venues.
For the time being, we are crafting a tailor-made residence show for the Bird’s Nest – Bird’s Nest. Attraction, which is the fruit of top Chinese and international artists’ joint effort. The debut is on September 21, when the show is to narrate “the power of love” with international perspective, oriental culture and Beijing creativeness, and to forge a unique fantasy world with the venue, taking the audience into an unprecedented 3-dimension audio and visual world. It is another bold attempt to explore the potential of Olympics venues.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as members of the operators and managers of the two Beijing Olympics venues, we are bearing both honor and a mission, which is to create another ‘China miracle’ in the post-Olympics age. A traveller knows no border, but his mission and long journey ahead. We will continue to work hard to make our due contribution to Beijing’s effort to become a city of the World and to the Olympics!
Last but not the least, I would like to share with you a video clip of some of the events held in the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube in the past 4 years.
Thank you for your attention!

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