Since the first scheme was launched in 2005, over 200 towns and cities across Britain have used Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) to revitalise and regenerate their shopping, dining, visitor attractions and other commercial activities.
In 2012, businesses in the centre of Guildford voted overwhelmingly in favour of becoming a BID. A new organisation, Experience Guildford, was set up to manage the five-year project, which is funded by a levy on organisations operating within the BID area.
Experience Guildford’s primary mission is to increase visitor numbers, so runs promotional campaigns and events throughout the year – and from the very beginning, we’ve been involved in designing and delivering the required collateral.
Over our five-year partnership, we’ve created materials of all kinds and sizes, across the whole spectrum of conventional and new media. As in every town centre, Guildford’s biggest and most critical trading period is the run-up to Christmas, so this has become a major annual event for us, too. Our ‘little book of vouchers’, offering discounts in retailers and eateries, has become a regular fixture, as has our billboard, radio, press and online ad campaign for special pre-Christmas car-parking. We’ve also developed other seasonal promotions for Easter and summer, notably the ‘urban beach’ event, Guildford-on-Sea, on the banks of the River Wey every August. Year-round, we design promotions including the Privilege Card for shoppers, Thank Guildford It’s Friday and offers from participating businesses.
A key part of the BID’s strategy is to raise the profile of members, and establish Guildford as an attractive, diverse, safe and high-quality destination all day, every day. We’ve worked with Experience Guildford on a number of ‘quality assurance’ initiatives, including its annual Customer Service Awards – open to all BID members – and the Best Bar None Awards, which offer accreditation for the town’s licensed premises.
Our most important digital project to date has been the Official Guildford App. Designed for residents and visitors, it includes a directory of the town’s shops, leisure and lifestyle businesses. It also provides a live feed of car park availability, a Digital Privilege Card, and a real-time What’s On Guide.
In March 2017, we helped Experience Guildford to prepare its tender to run the BID contract for a second five-year term. We really hope it’s successful, and that we can continue a great long-term partnership that’s worked brilliantly for everyone.