The Event: The 20th Commonwealth Games took place in Glasgow, Scotland from the 23rd July to 3rd August 2014. 71 Commonwealth nations took part with almost 5,000 athletes competing for gold.
My Role: Venue Transport Manager for Arrivals & Departures, looking after the arrivals and departures operation at Glasgow airport, both main train stations and movements to and from the Athlete’s Village. My operation on venue was the longest out of everyone in my Venue Transport team, with us being on site for eight weeks.
- This was the athlete’s, VIP guests and media’s first impression of Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and our service would form their opinion of their experience – we had one shot to get it right
- The world media was upon us – my team and I needed to be professional and look presentable at every moment
- We were working around fully operational venues open to the public – Glasgow airport, Queen St and Central Station and I had to ensure BAU (Business As Usual)
- The most challenging part of this operation was ‘Mass Departures’.
- Athletes technical officials, media, VIPs, dignitaries etc. trickled in, but they would all leave pretty much on the same day – 4th August 2014.
- 6,000 clients and 15,000 pieces of luggage moved through Glasgow airport on Monday 4th August 2014
- It was the most intense day out of the eight weeks, for volunteers, G2014 and airport staff, and came at a time where we were almost out of energy.
What we did: I worked with the most incredible team anyone could have asked for. I had two assistants, a team of forty volunteers and 8 traffic marshals. The operation was simple; review flights arriving in, assign vehicles to clients as they arrived and pick them up from arrivals and walk them to their transport. The volunteers looked after all this and gave the athletes, guests and media the warmest and friendliest Scottish welcome. There was even a bagpiper too! Understanding that all clients were tired and disorientated when they arrived, we were sensitive in our handling of them and were quick to assist with any queries or requests they had.
The Mass Departures Story
I began planning Mass Departures on 17th March 2014 (St. Patrick’s Day). I knew to get ahead on this process from my experience at London 2012 and the challenges that mass departures presented the teams there. In order to make this a success, I engaged every stakeholder in the process, drafted a plan and worked through it with them via the facilitation of working groups. My approach was simple: each working groups was as a ‘client walk through’, we were to put ourselves in the shoes of an athlete or VIP guest and walk through the entire experience from their accommodation to boarding the plane. Each stakeholder responsible for a specific cog in the wheel would speak and talk through their operation.
Monday 4th August arrived and our day began at 3am in the office in Glasgow Airport where we had a team brief on how the operation and communications would run for the day. We occupied a handful of loading bays outside the terminal to make space for thousands of athletes, officials and media in coaches, including a drop off system in the car park for all VIPs, who would descend on us and expected to be processed in good time . It was a huge operation and one that took full collaboration from the team in the Athlete’s Village, to the baggage handlers loading the planes.
We dedicated Terminal 2 to Athletes check in only and had a separate drop off for them and their luggage. Their luggage was taken separately from the Village by truck and dropped off under a marquee we had erected in a yard (we removed some fence panels to facilitate) next to the terminal. All other clients and members of the public checked in through Terminal 1.
Apart from one or two hiccups – golf clubs jamming the luggage belt in Terminal 1 and a truck with Australia and Malaysia’s luggage stuck in the Village when the teams wanted to check in – the day went of without a hitch. It was one of the proudest moments of my career and it was down to the knowledge, experience and proactive attitudes of my team and collaboration with everyone involved from the Athlete’s Village to Glasgow Airport.