An innovative new mobile phone app has been launched in a bid to increase the number of visitors to Melton town centre, to boost business and assist tourists.
The Melton Mowbray Town Guide App, which is free to download, lists all town centre businesses and services with information on what they offer, maps showing their location and also places to stay overnight.
It also gives general information on Melton and is integrated with social media platforms Twitter and Facebook so users can share content with relatives and friends.
Melton Council and the business-generating Melton Business Improvement District (BID) Company have collaborated on the initiative, which is understood to have cost around £2,000, with Melton being among the first towns in the region to make use of the technology.
Town centre traders this week gave a cautious welcome to the app, with some saying it would help people find ‘hidden’ businesses which are off the main streets, as well as established stores, while others felt it was difficult to navigate and more up-to-date information was needed to be provided for individual businesses.
Melton town centre manager Shelagh Core said the app would be adapted over time and there would be more content added about the street and cattle markets.
She said: “We think this is a really good use of digital technology and it will help increase footfall in the town centre.
“It will be useful for tourists but it will also be great for local people as a showcase of what Melton has to offer.”
The app is at an early developmental stage according to Andrew Cooper, chairman of the Melton BID Company and Melton Promotions, and he said traders can help make it even more effective over time.
“With input from businesses the content can be enriched and expanded, with a regular refresh of available data to customers,” added Mr Cooper.
Traders and residents are being urged to download the app by councillor Pam Posnett, town centre champion for Melton Council, to get more out of their town.
She said: “The app allows businesses to promote special offers to customers, it has a business directory and detailed information of the products and services on offer, boosting business and encouraging trade.”
Catherine Baker, who has owned The Melton Bookshop in Leicester Street for two years, felt some of the menus for searching businesses were too lengthy on the app and that traders should be provided with posters to encourage more people to download it.
She added: “It’s really nice that the Melton BID Company is trying to use new technology and new strategies to help businesses now that we don’t have a tourist information centre anymore.”
Tim Brown, owner of The Melton Cheeseboard in Windsor Street, feels the app will be useful in keeping visitors in the town, particularly with plans in place for new supermarkets outside the centre of Melton.
“The app is definitely a good idea,” he said. “Anything which embraces new technology and gives people more information about the town has to be welcomed.”
Mark Cook, who opened More Coffee Co in Market Place two years ago, felt the app was user friendly but it needed to have more up-to-date images and information about businesses.
He said: “It may well keep people in the town a little longer and encourage them to visit shops they wouldn’t normally visit, in the hidden parts of Melton.”
The app was welcomed by new business owner Michael Cooke, who opened Melton Sports in King Street last summer.
He said: “It’s good to see Melton is trying to keep ahead of the curve by using new technology. This app shows that Melton does have a pretty good mix of shops and that the high street can still compete with online retailers.”
Alex Koay, who works at Jasmine House restaurant in Sherrard Street, said: “This is very good. Most people are online with their phones and they use apps like this so it will help people who visit the town.”
The Melton Mowbray Town Guide App can be installed directly from the Apple App Store or the Google Play store if you have an Android device. You can also access the app by following the links at www.melton.gov.uk or www.melton.gov.uk/tourism