Oslo2016 – The Race Against Time

Over the course of just 19 hours, we were to inform 10.000 people that they had to meet up for Day 4 of the Biathlon World Championships 2016 more than two hours earlier than stated in the official championships program.

Insights and strategy

It was March 8, 2016 – the evening before Day 4 of the Oslo-based Biathlon World Championships. The organizer was in a situation that could have led to an estimated loss of €200,000, and a large reputational risk. Why? Because IBU (The International Biathlon Union) had decided to hasten the start time of the next day’s competition with 2,5 hours due to weather reports of fog in the Holmenkollen arena.

Pushing the start time forward is unheard of for IBU, because their competitions historically have been either delayed or cancelled if necessary. The consequence of IBU’s decision was that 19 hours before competition start there were 7.647 ticket holders, 1.110 volunteers, 200 suppliers, 560 journalists and media workers broadcasting the championships to 35 countries, the tech crew, Ruter (the public transport authority in Oslo), emergency services etc. that was completely unaware that they had to be in the Holmenkollen arena 2,5 hours prior to the original start time.

It was significantly challenging for us to reach out to all target groups as there wasn’t any main channel that made it possible to communicate with every single person expected to attend the event. Among the ticket holders alone, there were several people who didn’t understand Norwegian. In other words: the organizer committee had to react quickly and smartly.

VM i skiskyting 2016

Solution

Choosing the most fitting channels to spread the news ended up being an essential approach to provide information to everyone who needed it. Besides this, the organizer also had to offer compensation to those who wouldn’t make it to Holmenkollen in time.

To reduce the amount of complaints and misinformation, the organizer wished to inform about the compensation along with information about the new start time. The municipality, sponsors, broadcasters, volunteers and more had to be informed in order to prepare themselves, while Ruter had to arrange new metro departure times to Holmenkollen to secure that the public and the volunteers would be able to make it to the arena in time.

Biathlon field

These were the most important measures JCP took from the time we were given the information about the rescheduling (March 8 at 5.30 pm) and until we were finished with informing and coordinating (March 9 at around 9.00 am):

  • The compensation strategy we had set up prior to the Championships. All ticket holders who would miss the Day 4 competition would receive free entry to the Day 5 competition.
  • The organizer called directly to all guests who had bought 10 or more tickets.
  • Newsletters were sent to all ticket holders who had registered their e-mail address, and text messages to all who had registered their Norwegian phone number.
  • Information about the rescheduling was provided in Norwegian and English, and newsletters and websites were updated successively.

The results

The following goals for the crisis management was set:

  • Financial: Max 20% ticket refunds
  • Media: Max 3 negative media stories
  • Spectator complaints: Max 1% (75 complaints)
  • Partner complaints: Max two complaints. None from large partners.

… and these were the final results: 

  • Financial: 2 ticket refunds of a total of 7647 tickets (0,1% = € 250)
  • Media: No negative stories
  • Spectator complaints: 6 complaints (0,08% of 7647 spectators)
  • Partner complaints: No complaints