Please tell us about the work that you do at Experience Guildford and the impact this has on local Guildford businesses.
Experience Guildford is the business improvement district for Guildford Town Centre, working with 560+ retail and leisure businesses in the local area.
Some of our current objectives include keeping the town safe, clean and welcome, driving footfall into the town by running events, new initiatives and offering marketing support to businesses.
What do you feel is the biggest goal Experience Guildford has accomplished over the past twelve months?
One thing we did last year that we hadn’t previously done, was our application for Guildford into the Great British High Street awards.
Whilst we didn’t win, we did make the shortlist, which is an awesome achievement. Entering the awards gave great publicity to the town and was a good opportunity to share our views on why Guildford High Street is fabulous.
What do you love most about Guildford?
I’m a big foodie, so I love all things food and drink. Guildford has an amazing offering for independent eateries and watering holes, which are definitely the kind of places that I visit most!
Some of the independents have been going for such a long time such as Rumwong, celebrating their 40th birthday. There are also new businesses popping up all the time, from independent restaurants and pubs to the new brew shop, Growlers and Cans. Our independent food and drink scene is really thriving, and it’s what I love most.
Can you please tell us about the current initiatives Experience Guildford are running and what you’re hoping to achieve?
Spring becomes quite a busy period for us, this is where a lot of our initiatives start rolling out. We’ve had the White Rabbit Easter Trail, which was a bit of family fun, putting out clues and driving footfall to local businesses.
We’re also running the first ever ‘Healthy Guildford Day’, a new initiative in partnership with Guildford Borough Council. This is a celebration of all of the fantastic fitness and wellbeing businesses in the town, aiming to encourage residents and local professionals to be a bit more active.
After this, we have our ‘Best Bar None Awards’ in June. This is a national accreditation and celebrates the best operational standard and best practice in the license trade. June also sees the launch of our Customer Service Awards voting.
Are there any interesting ideas in the pipeline for future Experience Guildford initiatives?
One really exciting initiative in the works at the moment is ‘Real Change Guildford’. We’re currently working with a number of partners including Guildford Action, Riverside Care and Support and Voluntary Action South West Surrey. This initiative is an alternative giving campaign and is a partner approach to reducing homelessness in the local area.
The charities will identify someone who is in need of something practical, whether that’s a new outfit for an interview, a deposit for a flat or anything in between. The entire initiative is set-up to support them, help these individuals get over those barriers and start their journey away from homelessness.
What is and tell us about your favourite project.
My favourite project would definitely be Guildford-on-Sea. We bring an urban beach down to the banks of the River Wey in the space outside of the Electric Theatre. It’s traditionally been a family-focused event, everything is free across three days in the summer and really adds to the fun things to do in Guildford. Everyone always seems to have a great time. Last year we added Guildford-on-Sea Sundown Sessions, which was an evening of live music, charity volleyball for local businesses, ping pong, a bar and a barbecue, all of which went really well!
I do also really love the Customer Service Awards. It’s brilliant to be able to celebrate the fantastic customer service that’s offered within the town and gives us a point of difference to other places locally. It’s also great to see that rivalry between local businesses that sets in, and year-on-year, you see people really going for it. We now have 14 different categories, with entries from independents and nationals across a range of sectors. Voting takes place throughout the summer, shortlisted businesses are then mystery shopped and we have a good party at the Yvonne Arnaud at the end of it, which is always such a fantastic night.
And lastly, if there was one thing you could change about Guildford, what would you change?
This is a real tough one for me because I’m quite well known and often mocked for my unwavering love of Guildford.
With this said, sometimes I wish Guildford was flat. Fewer hills on a daily basis would be great when walking around quite a lot!
Picture of Liv Pattullo, Project Manager at Experience Guildford
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