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In July, the International Olympic Committee released its official debriefing of the Torino 2006 Olympics. Representatives of the Olympic Games Organizing Committees of Beijing 2008, Vancouver 2010 and London 2012 gathered over the course of five days to hear from the Torino 2006 Organizing Committee about its experience hosting the XX Olympic Winter Games earlier this year.

Few special events match the scope of the Olympics. Yet for anyone who stages a recurring event — whether for business or charity — advice from the Torino committee can be instructive. The Torino team offers five essential elements of success for the Games; I think these elements matter for any special event that is to endure:

Vision must be at the center of everything you do

Event organizers must take a “holistic approach,” the Torino team says, to implementing their vision in everything they undertake. The vision must remain consistent across the board and be applied to all facets of the organization's work.

People are at the heart of the event

From start to finish, event organizers must focus on the needs of their various stakeholder groups. The groups' needs will vary, but these needs must be served. The sooner this approach and these needs are understood, the more effective planning and operations will be.

Leadership and unity are of primary importance

The event's leadership team must draw upon and coordinate many independent but interrelated groups, which may include local government, business, vendor partners, etc. The event team must be able to lead and coordinate these groups and tap into the experience and resources of event organizers from years past.

You can never test enough

With a smoothly functioning team critical to success, event leaders must rehearse operations as much as possible before the actual event gets underway in order to provide a reliable, flawless production.

Without a positive legacy, good operations don't mean much

The Olympics team is referring to the legacy that the Games leave in the host city, a legacy that includes results both tan-gible, such as new sports facilities, and intangible, such as an improved image. But this principle holds true for other special events. A gala fundraiser might be beautifully executed, but it doesn't mean much if producing the party eats up most of the money it brings in. (Fundraiser extraordinaire Alison Silcoff makes this point beautifully in her “The Last Word” profile; see page 74.)

This issue marks the beginning of our 25th year publishing Special Events Magazine. Over the coming year, we will share the stories of many special event professionals who have advanced and enriched the world of special events. As editor, I am proud to carry on our legacy.

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