What Do You Need
As well as the passionate people there are also a number of things you require when designing your TestTown event.
A Date That Suits– The programming of a TestTown week into your town’s calendar of events is important. It is best to avoid the natural ‘down-times’ in the retail calendar.
Vacant Spaces– Ideally the spaces should be allowed to be used for free, should be close together in the town centre and careful thought put into the ‘make-good’ costs.
Shop Fitting- Basic items should be provided for the participating businesses and clear guidance given to them in terms of when their equipment and merchandise can be delivered and picked-up.
Payment Methods-Host Towns should never be required to take responsibility for participant’s cash takings. Encourage them to put in place sensible banking arrangements.
Investment and Sponsorship-TestTown events can be run on a small budget with a lot of in-kind support. However they do require some form of financial investment to cover participant’s development grants, marketing, make-good and de-rig costs of spaces and prizes (optional.)
A Support Package for Participants-we have developed a toolkit and checklists to make surethe businesses receive the support required to participate in a TestTown event.
Documentation and Evaluation- don’t forget to document and evaluate to understand the difference your TestTown event has made to the individuals involved and to your town centre.
Words of Advice
My best bit would be the engagement with the competitors during the online surgeries. A few lines of communication made all the difference in their applications and enthusiasm.
TestTown 2013 Host
Have plenty of time to be on hand during trading as working with lots of stakeholders and businesses is very time consuming. It is key to manage the expectations of the participants e.g. they will not all make lots of money during their first day of trade.
TestTown 2015 Host
We underestimated a lot or things which needed to be considered for the units and ended up doing the cleaning etc. for a couple on our own. All a good learning curve though for future initiatives and we’d make sure we added more lead in time to them.
TestTown 2014 Host
It was an amazing location, yet because of the distance between finalists, we felt a little neglected because we so far out of the way. Try and have all finalists a fairly equal distance apart
TestTown 2014 Participant