Inside the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with Francisco Netto ’14 PGD ESE
Meet alumnus Francisco Netto, Venue Retail Operations Manager for the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Francisco graduated from Glion in 2014 with a Postgraduate Diploma in Event, Sport and Entertainment Management. He shares a behind the scenes look into the venue and retail preparations for the Olympic Games 2016 and talks about what it takes to be successful in the international events industry.
1. What is your role? What do you do?
I work for the commercial department in the licensing and retail functional area at the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. I am Venue Retail Operations Manager for Copacabana and Maracanã Clusters, which includes 19 stores and 2 superstores in 9 venues. I need to decide the stores’ locations, quantities, sizes and types based in the venues’ public flow. I also need to work together with the contractor who makes the retail operations and sells the products to the spectators.
2. What do you like about your work?
I love the fact that I can see the operation’s life, from the beginning of the operational planning to the royalties income after the merchandising sales. I love to work at the office and the venues. If I would work just at the office or just at the venue, I would miss important parts of the process and in this case, for me, the job would be incomplete. I love the fact that people have fun and enjoy their experience in an event. Creating a great experience and happiness for the spectators is what I strive for.
3. What skills are necessary to be successful in event management?
When you work with so many people interconnected, you need to work well with them all to make a great event. If you think just in your area – and do not deal well with others – you, and the event, will be unsuccessful. Team work is the word that you always need to keep in mind.
When you plan and re-plan the event and the operation several times, flexibility needs to be one of your soft skills. You need to negotiate with others in functional areas and you cannot be selfish, thinking that your area is the best and most important one. For example, in licensing and retail, I negotiate many times with the departments of events management, events service, venue development and overlay, look, city liaisons, food and beverages, security, energy and technology functional areas.
When you negotiate and you do not achieve your goals, you need to be creative to find another solution. I faced this when I was negotiating the stores closing time. I had to negotiate and change the stores’ closing standard for the volleyball and beach volleyball venues because these sports do not have a specific time to finish the match, but we have a specific time to start the next sessions.
Eye for detail:
Even in large operations, we cannot move fast with details. The customer deserves a comfortable place to enjoy their experience. I believe they have money to spend in any event. Although, they choose this event, so I need to offer them nothing less than the best experience.
4. Behind the scenes, what is happening that people might not know about?
– We have more than 5.000 different official products divided into 3 categories: collectables (coins, mascots, pins, cartoons episodes etc.), hard lines (glass, building toys, notebooks, cars, video game etc.) and soft lines (t-shirts, bikinis, balls, books and guides, board games etc.).
– Many former Olympic athletes work in our team. These former athletes say that they never expected the amount of work needed to deliver the biggest event in the world.
– The events came to Rio because the city, state and federal politicians were well aligned for the first time in many years. This has helped the city to grow and develop in a way never seen before.
– We work really hard to make the events happen. People outside the events industry do not know the complexity of all the projects involved to deliver the Olympic Games.
Thomas Bach is a former Fencing Athlete, having competed at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and won a gold medal, representing West Germany. Now, he is the International Olympic Committee’s president and made a great speech for Rio 2016’s team. At the end, Alexandra Sergeeva (Glion alumna working for Rio 2016) and I had the pleasure to talk to him for a couple of minutes.
5. How are the preparations for Rio 2016 impacting the hospitality scene in the city?
The preparation for the Rio 2016 does not just impact the hospitality scene. It impacts many industries in the city like architecture, engineering, security, sports and tourism, for example. A big part of the preparation will turn into legacies. The legacy is a very important milestone since the bid city is considered by the International Olympic Committee.
Going back to the hospitality scene, Rio is the city that receives the most tourists in Brazil. We receive business and leisure tourists – which is the majority. In 2009, Rio had 24 thousand hotel rooms but it was not enough for the events that is in Rio’s blood as Rock in Rio, Carnival and Reveillon, for example. Still in 2009, Rio started to receive many national and international hotel chains. Now, in 2016 after hosting large events such as the Military World Games in 2011, the 28th World Youth Day (a worldwide Catholic event) in 2013, and FIFA World Cup in 2014, the city prepared itself to host the biggest event with more than 26 thousand new hotel rooms. The new arrival of luxury brands in the city – such as Hyatt, Hilton and Trump – promises to make the most demanding tourists feel welcomed and return.