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“Rio is our client”: Setting up shop at Rio 2016

With just eight days until the Rio Olympics and just over a month until the Paralympics, event profs from all over the world are gearing up for a very busy six weeks.

One such event prof is Nigel Peters, founder of London-based event production company NP+Co.

Inspired by what he thinks of as a missed opportunity for corporate hospitality during the London 2012 Olympic Games, Peters has launched a pop-up hospitality venue in Santa Teresa, Brasil.

The venue, which includes tiered gardens, a pool, screening rooms, a bar and a terraced restaurant, is open throughout the Games for private and corporate events.

Access spoke to Peters (below right) ahead of this mammoth job; here, he tells us why the Olympics can be intimidating, and about the challenges of setting up shop in Rio.IMG_2067

Access: How is it all going in Rio?
Nigel Peters: Challenging! But we have enjoyed the journey with a team of fantastic people, all feels on track, private and membership bookings looking good and some great events taking shape.

The world’s press could ease off the negativity. Brazil and Rio face a tougher slog than most towards establishing a semblance of equality for its people. Hopefully the Olympics and Paralympics provide a significant step in the right direction; at present we can only imagine how much more positive and lasting it could all be with the world and media on-side.

Why did you feel London 2012 was a missed opportunity?
Surprisingly few brands seemed to have the appetite required to stage events within the uncertain intimidating Olympic landscape. Londoners left town on the recommendation of the Mayor, add the grey-shadow of the brand exclusion zone intentionally cast by organisers and press-led fears about everything from sanitation to traffic cones and it becomes off-putting…and that’s in London. The result was that outside of the focal Olympic areas London was a ghost town, with extremely limited and formulaic hospitality or nightlife options.

The goal was effectively wide-open for a handful of confident brands to have taken ownership of nightlife, drinking experiences, leisure activities and the City in general. Many producers gave it their all but relatively few managed to persuade non-official brands/clients to host events.

I missed the opportunity completely and regret not having fun with the Games in my hometown. London organised a good games with McDonalds trained stewards but failed to lay on a fraction of our day-to-day personality, welcome and action.

Why did you decide to set-up the operation in Rio?
We love Rio – to us it represented a very challenging but irresistible back-to-front project. We knew that once the groundwork was completed we would be able to safely look after a variety of clients and membership events – like the Field of Dreams saying, ‘If you build it, they will come’.

Another incentive for us was to create a venue and establishment richly representative of Rio and the Cariocas, to counter the bland, could-be-anywhere hotel suite options. In many respects, Rio is our client. Once the perfect venue and location was secure – the Soler Real Mansion in Santa Teresa – it was a joy to meet and assemble a world class Rio team of design, artistic, culinary, entertainment, logistical and organisational talent.

How does your event experience help you tackle the project?
The event industry is busy with rookie agencies and individuals Googling their way to event solutions and production facilitation. This approach cannot reliably produce innovative, cost effective and successful results in the world’s usual arenas, let alone at Rio 2016. Decent quantities of experience, creativity, contacts and durability and time on the ground are better tools.