Bangor scores a Northern Ireland first with new tech designed to electrify the High Street
An award-winning smartphone platform designed to drive interest, footfall and spend to local high streets and town centres has been launched in Northern Ireland’s newest city, Bangor, ahead of an immediate rollout across the borough’s key towns.
Designed to put consumers and businesses in control, Roam Local is a social media-style platform designed to connect communities, enhance safety and well-being, and support local business.
Powered by GPS, the revolutionary business platform empowers users to do everything from tracking down local retail and hospitality business to making plans, recommending their favourite businesses to friends, and creating safe groups to commute, shop and play safely.
Helping to build loyalty and encourage repeat visits, Roam Local users will get to see the very best of business and experiences available in towns across the borough from Holywood and Ards to Comber and Donaghadee through notifications generated by their favourite “Hotspots”, as identified by the app.
Already available in Co Durham, where entrepreneur founder, former professional jump jockey Andrew Bartlett grew up, as well as the Tees Valley, Yorkshire and other parts of England, Roam Local has more than 500,000 subscribers to date, as well as the backing of leading councils, chambers of commerce and business improvement districts.
With support from Bangor Chamber of Commerce, Retail NI, Hospitality Ulster and Ards and North Down Borough Council, Bangor was chosen for Roam Local’s initial NI rollout because of its potential to quickly revive its hospitality and retail economy in the wake of the pandemic.
It’s hoped the app will act as a digital catalyst to support the city’s ambitious £124 million regeneration plans.
Roam Local founder Andrew Bartlett said: “Any shop, café, pub, restaurant or venue, in any location, is already listed on the platform, and any business can enhance their profile and promote themselves on Roam using the digital marketing tools to engage with the local community, business travellers and tourists alike.
“Roam Local is most effective when a location’s businesses and other stakeholders come together to celebrate what’s on offer – and I’m delighted that Roam can contribute to the great efforts being made in Bangor.”
Proven to boost local business footfall and revenues by up to 30% where it operates, the Roam Local app, which allows users to access information on entertainment options, find new places to go and receive personalised offers and rewards, has already won several awards including Best Local Travel App 2022 at the UK Enterprise Awards, and Tech Product of The Year Award at the 2021 Restaurant and Takeaway expo, Europe’s largest hospitality event.
Andrew said: “This dynamic and award-winning platform helps consumers to find what they want when they need it and allows businesses to market and communicate to them directly, rewarding loyalty and ensuring they keep coming back for more.
“It really is a remarkable digital marketing solution that helps to connect consumers and businesses as one community.”
Roam Local pulls in information on all hotspots, including opening times, images and maps on places of public interest including bars, restaurants, clubs, hotels, gyms and heritage and culture to help people plan a day or night out.
It also allows individuals to share their location with secure groups of friends or colleagues so they can stay together and plan their trips, and by understanding behavioural anomalies amongst friends, the app can send out safety alerts to the rest of a group if someone strays away or gets lost.
Welcoming the Bangor launch, Retail NI chief executive, Glyn Roberts, said: “The pandemic has shown us that there is a new appreciation for thriving local neighbourhoods, high streets and town and city centres and the role that ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses play in making a destination worth living in or visiting.
“Bangor is beginning to blossom and I’m confident that digital technology such as the exciting Roam Local app, will be the way forward to help connect businesses looking to market themselves with existing and new customers keen to find out more about what their community has to offer.”
Bangor Chamber of Commerce President Geoff Thompson said the launch of the Roam Local app in Bangor was a testament to the strength and resilience of the local hospitality and retail sector and to its promising future ahead.
“We’re looking forward to the rollout which will support our continued local revival by providing a cost-effective way for businesses to promote their products and services to a growing local and engaged audience,” he said.
“By working together, we can help businesses sign up to the Roam platform, encourage local people and visitors to download the app and shine a light on the many great shops, cafés and other businesses that operate across Bangor.”
The app is freely available to download on both iOS and Android devices and businesses keen to sign up can visit roam-local.co.uk.
Claiming his Roam Local app listing, Ken Sharp, owner of the Salty Dog hotel and restaurant in Bangor, said:
“The Roam app has the power to help Bangor’s transformation by empowering local businesses to better promote themselves. It’s a great marketing tool for us to keep in touch with our customers and update them regularly on all our news, menus and activity. I recommend other businesses sign up too so that together we can harness its potential for everyone’s benefit.”
A dedicated Roam Local office has been established in Bangor to help businesses and consumers find out more at the former Danske Bank premises at 77, The Old Market Place, Main Street Bangor BT20 5AP.
Caption: Rachel Armstrong, Owner, The Guillemot Kitchen Café Winebar; Frank Shivers, Board Member, Bangor Chamber of Commerce; Andrew Bartlett, Founder, Roam Local app; Glyn Roberts, Chief Executive, Retail NI; Stephen Lennie, Owner, The Yogurt Tree; and Louis Nelson, Head Barista, The Yogurt Tree. (Front row L-R): Karl Craig, Barista, The Red Berry Coffee House and Eatery; David Ervin, General Manager, The Red Berry Coffee House and Eatery; and Jacqueline McKeown, Owner, Curious Candy.