60 seconds with: IET London: Savoy Place's Sean Spencer

For the 2012 Games, IET London: Savoy Place became the Olympic House for Qatar (Bayt Qatar), and venues and facilities manager Sean Spencer discusses the transformation with C&IT.

60 seconds with: IET London: Savoy Place's Sean Spencer
60 seconds with: IET London: Savoy Place's Sean Spencer

What occured at IET London: Savoy Place during London 2012?

When presented with this opportunity, we were able to tick all the boxes in terms of what the Qatar Olympic Committee wanted to celebrate their participation in the 2012 Olympic Games. One of the first prerequisites was a venue situated on one of the main Olympic routes (ORN) on the Embankment leading to the Olympic Park and central parts of London.

What demands did the Qatarian government place on IET?

An unusual prerequisite was a venue within close proximity to mooring facilities, which proved ideal for IET London: Savoy Place, due to its Riverside location. The facilities themselves also proved to be a key factor in our selection, each with a purpose to serve.

What VIP and hospitality options were available?

The venue’s Riverside function suites on the third and top floor were used as a VIP restaurant with a newly added rooftop terrace, where guests enjoyed the panoramic views of London’s city skyline. The tiered lecture theatre provided space for a variety of cultural events including screenings of Arabic films for the Doha Film Institute, fashion shows, presentations by Sotheby’s and live broadcasts of the opening and closing ceremonies. The ground floor was used to portray some of the big sports investments taking place in Doha for the Fifa World Cup in 2022, investment in youth and children. To complement this area there was an Al Jazeera sports bar serving exotic fruit cocktails. The planning period took place over seven months and involved a rigorous licensing and planning process due to operational requirements.

Will the event help IET win events in the future?

I think this experience has really put the venue on the map and we expect to see an increase in the number of meetings and events in Q4 as people become aware of why we were chosen. The venue had a great atmosphere throughout the period and was operating as if it were a 24 hour venue. The period of the games also included the holy month of Ramadan and so food was only served after sun set and call to prayer was observed  with four prayer rooms. Each day, there were up to 270 guests in attendance with some incredible VIPs and sport stars including the IOC, Prince Albert of Monaco, Karl Lewis, Sir Frank Williams and the two Qatari athletes that achieved bronze medals at the Games.

Did staff at IET embrace the project?

There was great staff buy-in from the very outset of the project, with visuals of the venue’s transformation being presented. Training was provided to educate staff about Middle Eastern cultures and a hundred extra contractors and staff members were drafted in to assist with various aspects including catering. Throughout the period of the games, the staff performed incredibly well offering exceptional customer service.


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