Added on: 10th June, 2019 by O1
To improve Orpington’s image and bring more people into town. Here's some of what the BID worked on throughout 2018/19.
Events provide an opportunity to present the town to a wide audience and help to create a positive sense of place. The increase in footfall that they encourage provides an opportunity for businesses to engage with both current and potential customers and their content can help to build significant economic and social benefits for the area.
We are keen to utilise and connect all areas of the Town Centre but the final completion of the works to upgrade the Market square was particularly welcome as the space is central to the business community and easily accessible to customers.
Our priority is to host major events that attract footfall and whose content provides businesses with the opportunity to participate in or to benefit from the increase in visitor numbers.
But it is also relevant to offer and support smaller scale events such as the Easter trail which encourages customers to travel around the town and appreciate what businesses and services we have.
We started the summer season in style in May by celebrating the Royal Wedding with a live screening of the marriage of Prince Harry and Megan Markel.
Held in the Market Square and with excellent weather and some great activities including a visit by the Queen (lookalike) the event proved extremely popular and the feedback from visitors and businesses was very positive.
At the beginning of June, we were delighted to partner with Bla-Bla Productions, a local company, to deliver a new children’s festival, Enchanted.
The event which promoted health, sustainability and creativity was held in the wonderful priory gardens and attracted large crowds.
In July we used the Market Square to install a pocket park with deckchairs, a bar and a big screen providing visitors with the opportunity to watch the final weekend of Wimbledon live.
We followed the tennis by trialling an evening of outdoor cinema, turning the square into a Greek taverna for the evening and showing Mama Mia the Movie ahead of the release of the sequel. It was very well attended and many customers requested a repeat for summer 2019.
September saw the return of the town’s food festival Flavours of Orpington. The final weekend included a music and comedy night with street food stalls for Foodie Friday...
...we hosted a demonstration kitchen and food market for Saturday Showcase...
...and a community event run by churches together for Sunday Service, with a free BBQ and entertainment.
The event showcases the town’s important hospitality sector and this year we saw an increased number of businesses participating in the festival.
In November the BID once again delivered the popular Light Up Orpington event for the 5th consecutive year.
Again, we were delighted with the increase in the number of levy paying businesses participating in the event.
As well as a full and varied programme of acts on stage, including local schools, we also had a range of community groups and organisations taking part.
Alongside the BID Chairman, ward councillors, Father Christmas and characters from the Orpington 1st sponsored Pantomime were on stage for the countdown to the firework finale.
In December we partnered with MyTime Active to host the town’s second Santa Dash which saw an increase in the number of participants and had excellent customer feedback.
The early months of 2019 saw the Walnuts Shopping Centre celebrate Chinese New Year and Easter, so the BID has supported these with additional activities such as bringing in the popular petting farm to Market Square.
We are keen to promote all good quality events that take place in the town centre that add vibrancy and help to shape the use of social space. We will therefore continue to encourage event organisers to share their events, to utilise the high street and to build connections.
We continue to improve and broaden our communication with customers with both our online presence and with regular presentations at community groups and organisations which have proved extremely popular, especially with our older residents. We will continue to review and refine all communication to ensure best value is achieved between cost and engagement.
Building on the success of our previous charity calendars we once again worked with the Orpington Photographic Society to produce a Calendar for 2019. The theme of People and Places has been successfully used to encourage people to take a closer look at their town. The winning entries were shown alongside the works presented at the society’s annual exhibition in September.
Our quarterly publication, The Orpington 1st Magazine continues to offer an excellent vehicle to communicate with residents, providing a comprehensive review of the BID programme as well as promoting news and events which are relevant but beyond the remit of the BID.
As well as an increase to 40 pages we have also increased the amount of editorial to 20 plus pages, taken the editorial in-house and worked more closely with a designer.
New local magazines continue to appear and disappear, and we continue to review and improve each of our editions to ensure that levy paying businesses benefit from an informative and engaging magazine and the opportunity to advertise at a subsidised rate, and the perception of Orpington is enhanced.
The Orpington 1st website is continually updated and regularly receives more than 20,000 unique monthly visitors. In the year ending 31st March 2019 the website received over quarter of a million hits.
6,000 subscribers receive regular newsletters updating them on the latest news, events and offers from the town’s businesses and Orpington 1st has 10,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The Orpington loyalty card has been updated with Orpington Options, enabling customers to redeem offers and discounts simply by showing them on their smartphone, as well as with the old loyalty card.
New POS material and window stickers incorporating NFC technology was created to engage customers with the brand and encourage businesses to participate.