Google Helping Town Centres
A New Era for Place Management Support
Following months of collaboration through events, we are delighted to announce that Google has become a member of ATCM. Google will join hundreds of councils, Business Improvement Districts and place managers across the UK and Ireland, all striving to ensure the economic and social health of our town centres.
Google has already supported a number of recent ATCM events including ‘The ATCM Cities Summit: The Fourth Industrial Revolution?’ and ‘The ATCM Summer School: #FutureConsumer’ and has worked with individual members such as Solihull BID. Becoming part of the network will allow the two organisations to further develop the support they can provide high street businesses and place managers.
Ojay McDonald, CEO of ATCM said:
“This is huge for us. During our conference ‘Pathway to Resilience: Shaping the Post-Brexit Urban Economy’ in 2017, artificial intelligence and it’s impact on towns and cities was identified as a key strategic issue which ATCM needs to play a leading role in. Our subsequent research opened up a pandoras box of issues relating to disruptive technology such as the transition to a cashless society, the growth of drone use in the urban environment, the transformative effect of social media on Generation Z and the impact on employment and skills.
With their work to support small high street businesses through the Digital Garage Tour, we decided to reach out to Google as a potential partner, and they have been very receptive. It is clear to us that in an age where there is so much change, where town centres are exposed to an industrial revolution, to count on the support of a company which is both a product of, and provocateur in, this revolution gives us a fighting chance of turning the tide.”
Ronan Harris, Google UK & Ireland Managing Director said:
“Google is committed to supporting high streets and small businesses as already demonstrated by the Digital Garage Tour and so this partnership makes sense. Having the right digital skills can have a transformative impact on business growth and job creation. Our hope is that by providing dedicated, tailored training through the Digital Garage we can help bring new growth to high streets across the country.
Despite the ongoing uncertainty posed by Brexit, we want to show businesses on high streets how digital skills can help them to thrive, not just as a place for commerce, but also as a cultural centerpiece of the communities that they serve.”
ATCM will be working with the team at Google over the coming months to put in place a programme of practical support for members. We believe that there is already many great tools which we can use, for free, through Google, but we need to ensure our members are given the support needed to maximise these opportunities.
This could be an important step in the support provided to our members.
Why Google Matters – The Love Wimbledon Case Study
By Helen Clark Bell, CEO of Love Wimbledon and Vice Chair of ATCM London
Death of the High Street. Declining footfall. Major chains closing. Online retail increasing.
As a BID we decided that we had to find opportunities to defy these national trends and ensure that Wimbledon Town Centre remained a strong and attractive destination.
The Internet is often seen as a detractor for high streets and town centres, but we saw an opportunity to use this to our advantage. How do we look for a restaurant? What’s on at the cinema? Look for shop opening hours and locations? We ‘google’ it! What happens if the restaurant has bad reviews or the cinema is in the wrong location or the shop is not listed or worse still closed down but is still listed? We increasingly rely on the Internet to be accurate and guide us, but if this information is not up to date we get frustrated and become negative about our experience.
As a Business Improvement District, we are best placed to know exactly what is happening on the high street with our businesses and Google gives us the opportunity to share our knowledge and update the Internet for everyone’s benefit.
The first task was to ensure that every business was located on Google Maps where they were in reality. It was amazing how many businesses had been listed or located in completely the wrong place. In doing this there were a number of businesses that were either not listed at all or that had closed down years ago. By cleansing these listings we were able to identify those businesses that had not claimed their Google Business listing and may have been receiving reviews they knew nothing about – not great customer service!
As a Google Local Guide, we have become the authority and curator of Wimbledon local business listings on the biggest search engine in the world. Listing businesses accurately the day they open and notifying Google the day they close ensures the Google search for businesses in Wimbledon is exemplary.
The next step that we have just started to provide is a service that delivers 360 degree photos of the interior of the business. Saving £400 per business and offering a bespoke local service is how locations can build their ranking and use the Internet to support business and attract footfall. Having taken 360 degree photos for 36 businesses, we have already had nearly 300,000 views in just 4 months.
When the 600 photos we have submitted about local businesses have received around 2,500,000 views, it is difficult to argue that this form of marketing is not having a positive impact on place management.
Find our more about ATCM – association of town & city management.