Looking back at Vancouver 2010, and why it succeeded

GlobalTV’s Brian Coxford takes stock on the patriotic impact of the 2010 Games (video)

It’s a year since the Olympic Torch arrived in downtown Vancouver, and the day the Cauldron was lit. By this time last year we here at CityCaucus.com had long since "downed tools" on anything political, and focused 100-percent of our energy on promoting the 2010 Games. It was a good decision.

Daniel drafted a list of free events in late December. I built a digital guide where users could rate venues and leave comments, and we collaborated on keeping the information fresh and accurate. For weeks leading up to the arrival of the torch we had put enormous amounts of energy and time into crafting the Where to Be for Free guide at CityCaucus.com/2010free.

Collaborating with local mainstream media – especially with GlobalTV and CKNW – Daniel and I successfully promoted up to fifty "free" and affordable attractions through our guide and daily 2010 Update reports. We watched the traffic tick upwards, thinking that it couldn’t possibly go higher. 5,000 daily visitors, then 10,000, 25,000, and on two occasions we had over 40,000 visitors on the site at one time. On those days we had over 140,000 page views, and on both occasions the site crashed for up to 10 minutes. I made panicked phone calls to my hosting provider and begged them to not cancel my account.

I told the hosting provider that it would all be over soon. It was a huge learning experience in what happens when you go viral on the internet.

We managed to sell lots of ads at CityCaucus.com for the first time. That and very patient clients allowed me to take the whole month off and just cover Metro Vancouver’s free 2010 attractions. I didn’t go to a single Olympic event. For the most part I avoided line-ups whenever possible, except when trying to buy CANADA swag at The Bay. On sunny and even cool or rainy days I revelled in being at Robson Square, at Richmond’s O Zone or Surrey’s Live Site.

While there are several reasons for the success of last year’s event, we have consistently argued that it was that there was much to do for FREE, and that it was properly promoted through social media – CityCaucus.com, Miss604.com and 2010VanFan.ca in particular – in partnership with our friends in the MSM, that made Vancouver 2010 a hit.

I still recall all the times my iPhone display would read VANOC during those weeks. The Games organizers made a decision that it was not their job to promote free events – they wanted people to buy tickets after all. Every time someone called their switchboard to find out about Ontario House, the BC Pavilion, Place de la Francophonie or a concert at LiveCity Vancouver, they simply forwarded the call to my cell phone.

A couple dozen times per day I would be speaking to travelers making their way to our city from as far as Texas, Seattle, Toronto or Atlanta. They wanted to know where to go, where to park and even wanted to know where they should book accommodations. I was a volunteer cruise director for two and a half weeks, and I loved every minute of it.

Metro Vancouver has much to learn about hosting world class events. What is clear to me is that someone didn’t think everything through, and it was the inititiave by bloggers and local news rooms that helped to stitch together a plan for publicity that government couldn’t come up with.

We know that British Columbia’s Olympic hosting was perhaps the best ever staged in the history of the Games. More average citizens became engaged and involved because there was so much to do on a tiny budget – like ride the Bombardier streetcar, eat chocolate fondu at House of Switzerland, or fly across Robson Square on a zip line.

Games veterans all the way up to Jacques Rogge said that Vancouver had raised the bar. In the future we must remember the great lesson of 2010: involve the people.


Stay tuned for news about a soon-to-be-released project we call The People’s Games.

– post by Mike

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  • Maximovich

    12 FEB 2011
    Granville @ Robson
    Howe @ Robson
    Hornby @ Robson
    VOID OF PEOPLE!A bg Olympic Hole.
    Forget the rain…it’s just that the whole think stinks! Nobody cares, unless you worked for VANOC, VISION VANCOUVER or the BC Liberals, or you were one of the shmakcs on the free tickets and gifts LIST.
    There are Crooks and there is Charmine Crooks. LOL

  • Janice

    We wore our red, white & mitts today downtown, tho not quite finding the same spontaneous magic in the air as 2010. Wish the City had done better – anyone able to tell us how long the cauldron will be lit?
    But you guys did a helluva service here with your free guide last year so sincere thanks from all my visitors!
    Now if you can just figure out how to send Vision on to Sochi…permanently ; )

  • Jason

    Couldn’t agree more. The celebration of the Olympics was lame. Took the family downtown but was unsure what was going on. It was almost as if the city decided to plan this as an afterthought.
    Your little guide was so helpful last year. Yesterday however was a bust.

  • Max

    The activites were far from highly publicizied.
    But hey, I guess this is what we get for our $81,0000 party fund.

  • Julia

    I often wonder who thinks up these ideas to ‘recreate magic’. The whole ‘magic’ is that it is a one shot deal and that is what makes them so fabulous. Hopefully this year’s pathetic effort and turn out will end the ridiculous pursuit of the elusive.

  • bobh

    Mike, with you as a journalist, I would be interested in your take on CBC’s attempt at character assassination of John Furlong over the luge fatality.

  • The Angry Taxpayer

    This city is run by a bunch of frat boys, who can’t get over the giant kegger they had. And who want to keep getting pats on the back—and votes—from circus loving crowds.
    As my flag waving, Olympic cheering mom said yesterday “Enough, already”
    Me, I would rather look forward.

  • The Angry Taxpayer


  • Brad

    What Maximovich and the rest above said… Despicable waste of public monies .

  • Mario

    Mike Klassen and the rest…lovers of this BS corrupt games made for suckers, called Olympics, cut the PROPAGANDA. Nobody is buying this crap anymore, unless they are forced fed.

  • boohoo

    Uhh, angry, do you mean the province?
    This ridiculous waste of money is happening in places other than Vancouver that’s for sure.

  • Glissando Remmy

    The Thought of The Evening
    “The Olympic Games. Redivivus…for the ones of you in dire need of hallucinogens I recommend Magic Mushrooms.”
    Like all the ‘feel good when spending other people’s money’ stimulants, how good or bad your trip will be can be affected by who you are with, where you are and how you’re feeling at the time.
    In other news, John Furlong did a signing of his new book “My One Year Anniversary since I inhaled!” at the VCC West. He is looking forward to the sequel, “My two Years Anniversary…”.
    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • The Angry Taxpayer

    I mean both, boohoo. Our civic people were up to their necks in photo ops, glad-handing and talking up their huge part (not) in the ‘heroism’ of the Games.
    One of my fondest Oly Moments: I can tell you, from personal experience, that the elite athletes were pissed that both the Preem and the Mayor tried to bask in so much reflected glory by using them as meat puppets for photo ops. There is NOTHING worse than watching a politician at work in front of cameras. They like to try to make luv to the lens. One feels so dirty.
    It contunues, even today. Barf.

  • Max

    Suck it up sunshine.
    Not all of us were ‘against’ the Olympics. You are entitled to you opinion but so are the rest of us.
    100’s of thousands of people were in the streets, supporting our athletes, supporting BC, and supporting Canda.
    I am very happy to have had the opportunity to experiece the games in my home town, as were my family, friends and co-workers.
    We had had a great time and will hold the memories to our hearts for the balance of our lives.

  • RealityCheck

    Personally, I think it’s time for all of the Anti-Olympic activists to admit they were wrong and apologize to the citizens of Vancouver.

  • douglas

    Have to disagree with the apology thing. I enjoyed the Olympics greatly and echo Max’s sentiments to the letter (could not have been said better). However:
    “Where all think alike, no one thinks very much”
    Walter Lippmann
    People who stood against the Olympics have nothing to apologize about SAVE FOR those elements who used it as an opportunity to destroy public property (I refer to the smashing of store windows on Georgia Street at the opening). Those people are no more anti-Olympic than their 1994 Stanley Cup predecessors were anti-Canuck. And for both of said groups an apology is not enough redress.
    But let’s not get full of ‘I told you so’ recriminations for those who disagreed with us freely and fairly in a free society. Just enjoy the memories with those who choose to share them.

  • The Angry Taxpayer

    We had fun. Great party. Proud of athletes.
    If it’s a springboard to something else, great?
    But what?
    Other great cities have these events. And then they move on to “next” or “other business”.
    If we want to become a GREAT city, we need to be strong, within, and get on with it. We already know we can do anything. The only people in this city and province, who seem insecure, are our politicians.
    They need to get over their Sally Field moment.
    Let’s get on with it.

  • chris (one of many)

    2010 was a major success for one reason.
    The weather!
    Who would have ever thought that a Winter Olympics would be held in spring weather.
    Can anybody predict that, or “order” it again?
    No matter what wistful politicians dream about.