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App enhances town's pitch for Portas status

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: March 22, 2012

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Towns across the UK are commissioning apps that have been developed by a Wellington firm to persuade locals and tourists to "re-connect with the high street."

TutorPro is behind the launch of does-what-it-says subsidiary TownGuideApps; a new smart-phone guide to shops, facilities and attractions.

The company, whose interactive A-Z style guides are being commissioned by local authorities, Chambers of Commerce and Business Improvement Districts, recently created a town guide for Truro of behalf of its BID.

Its first, launched in September, was co-developed with Bridgwater Town Council clerk Alan Hurford, adapting the town's paper brochure into a smart-phone guide. Using Google Maps software it can help visitors find the nearest loo or coffee shop, or take a tour of the town stopping off at its sites of historic interest.

TownGuideApp's Paul Turner, said: "Our original idea was to use technology to try and re-connect local people and visitors to a town, to try and combat the decline that is occurring on the generic high street.

"One of the key features of our app is the ability for a local trader or retailer to be able to make special offers and promotions through their respective guide to drive footfall to their store."

Once the app is commissioned, at a cost starting from £595 a year, each individual town behind it can make it available to local businesses to use as a marketing platform.

"We think it's a no-brainer," said Mr Turner. "It's not costing ridiculous amounts of money and is a low-cost, high-volume product. We want it to benefit as many people as possible."

Mr Turner believes that in a few years' time, the use of interactive guides will come as second nature to people.

Alan Hurford said that for Bridgwater, the app had some 'outstanding' features, which set it apart from the town's traditional printed guide.

He said: "You can pick out a retailer and track a Google Map which takes you to the door."

As well as featured on the town council's website, the app is available as a "QR" barcode type scan, which can be found on posters around the town and even on its published guide.

Regularly updated with all the town's special events, the pioneering marketing tool will be included among the town's highlights in a pitch it is set to submit to become one of 12 UK high streets to become a Mary Portas Pilot town.

A dozen towns will become pilot areas for implementing recommendations set out in the Mary Portas Review, aimed at breathing new life into the high street.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has invited towns to pitch for the status, in a competition which will open up a shared £1 million funding pot to support the chosen communities to implement projects to support their high streets.

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