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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.

ATCM Summer School

Alison Lomax, Director of Lifestyle Retail at Google, speaking at #FutureConsumer – the 2019 ATCM Summer School

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.

Google Digital Garage visits Stockport

Google Digital Garage visits Stockport

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.”

Google Digital Garage

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.

CEO ATCM and Heaf od YouTube

Ojay McDonald, CEO of ATCM and Anais Hayes, Head of YouTube CPGA

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.

Wimbledon Town Centre

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!

Google my Business image

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.

CEO Update from Helen

Like many of you we were very sorry to see HMV close but would like to reassure you that HMV Curzon remains open. Meanwhile Premier Inn and Bar + Block opened and with 3 other new foodie options opening soon along with a new club, Wimbledon remains a strong town centre. A government committee report was published on 21st February entitled High Streets and town centres in 2030, which we contributed to, making recommendations for how town centres need to adapt to maintain their vitality and importance to the community. We are delighted to see the value of BIDs being highlighted as being integral to the development of high streets and town centres.

Read the full report

Where will the high street be in 2030

The summary of the report is that they believe that “high streets and town centres can survive and thrive by 2030…as activity based community gathering places ….” The committee is calling for a reduction in business rates for retailers in high streets and town centres and encourage Government to assess their proposals of a sales tax, an increase in VAT, an online sales tax and green taxes on deliveries and packaging, providing fast relief to high street retailers.

 

Alongside this report there is currently a Treasury Committee inquiry into the impact of business rates that I would encourage you to respond to. The closing date for submissions is 2nd April 2019. Respond to the inquiry here.