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Grand opening is a term used when a business, public office, or private association wishes to announce the official opening of a new location. This differs from just opening the doors on the first day, in that a grand opening is more of a celebration event, not just the first day having the doors open for clients. Often, the opening announcements are in this order: coming soon, now open, and then grand opening. The first two of these announcements are meant to communicate to the targeted clients that there is an intent to serve them and the grand opening signifies a planned special event or ceremony. Often, a party atmosphere is promoted by use of food, music, prizes, balloons, giveaways, festive signs, searchlights or a fireworks display
It is often suggested that an organization should not have a grand opening the very first day it opens its doors unless that organization is already well-established. Often, an organization will have a "soft opening" first. In a "soft opening" or "soft launch" the establishment begins to operate with little promotion. This allows the organization to become more organized the first few weeks or months before the more publicized grand opening and gives the management and staff a chance to become familiar with the daily operations of their inventory, accounting, and customer service requirements.
Once the institution is organized and ready to receive more clients, it will then sponsor a grand opening event. Some will use hanging banners, colorful posters, bright signs, post card mailings, newspaper articles or radio and television ads to attract as much attention as possible to this celebration. Still others go a bit further and have a ribbon cutting ceremony, where an oversized pair of scissors is used to cut an over sized ribbon to "officially" open their doors. Generally, a grand opening is regarded as a promotional way for an organization to state that it is completely ready to serve its clients proficiently and professionally.
In some cases, soft openings are legal requirements; for example, in the United Kingdom, a new stadium is required to successfully host three events at reduced capacity before it can be authorised to hold events at its full stated capacity.