Google has announced that Scarborough will be the next stop on its coastal towns tour, offering local businesses and residents free digital skills training with its pop-up ‘Digital Garage’. An event on 13th October at Scarborough Library, Vernon Rd, Scarborough YO11 2NN, will deliver workshops from 10am until 4.30pm, with a particular focus on helping tourism and hospitality businesses, attractions and cultural institutions train their staff on the digital tools needed to attract even more visitors.
Google has partnered with Visit England, The British Hospitality Association, The National Coastal Tourism Academy and UKinbound to ensure small businesses have the right skills to help boost awareness of the touristic appeal and offerings on British coasts. With most travel bookings starting with online research, digital skills have become essential to understanding a customer’s purchase journey. For example, studies show that 84% of leisure travellers haven’t decided on an accommodation provider when they start planning a trip. Since they still have an open mind about where they’ll go and who they’ll book with, businesses have an opportunity to use digital tools to make an impression, and inspire potential customers about their destination.
A recent survey by Columbus Direct found that four in five Brits admire the coast for its ‘beautiful, unspoilt beaches and coastline with lots of natural beauty’ yet more than half of them have not visited the British seaside in the past three years. This shows a real opportunity for hospitality businesses and tourist centres to use the power of online tools to find new visitors, take advantage of the recent boost in ‘staycations’ and even think about how to encourage more overseas visitors.
Google’s Digital Garage employs experts to provide one-to-one free mentoring and workshops to anyone interested in learning or furthering their digital skills. This can range from restaurant owners to B&B operators, to staff from larger hotel chains. Or anyone from Scarborough who wants to improve their digital skills in order to succeed online. Anyone interested in signing up can find the full schedule and registration page here.
First launched in Leeds in 2015, Google’s Digital Garage initiative has already helped give more than 150,000 people across the country the digital skills to succeed with many small and medium businesses reporting growth boosted by digital skills.
An example of a business based in a coastal town that enjoyed huge success after help from Google, is Porthcawl Surf School in South Wales. The owner Hugh Murray has been using online advertising tools to reach out to surfers and expand his business. “It is harder for people who are keen to learn how to surf to know where to start. People who know nothing about surfing start with Google, which means if they’re in the Porthcawl area, they have a great chance of finding me and getting in touch” says Hugh.
Robert Goodwill, Member of Parliament for Scarborough and Whitby said: “While the government’s Coastal Communities Fund is increasing investment in coastal towns, I also welcome the work of Google’s Digital Garage to help improve the digital skills shortfall in these areas. This training can help individuals become more attractive to new employers as well as enabling small businesses grow and provide more jobs. I really look forward to Google’s coastal programme arriving in Scarborough on Friday and encourage as many people as possible to come along to this day of free training. “
Ronan Harris, MD UK and Ireland Google, said: “The fast moving digital world is having an increasing impact on our everyday lives. As a result, Google’s Digital Garage mission is to provide useful digital training as well as confidence online for those who may have at first felt quite lost within this new digital age. We want to ensure that Scarborough is equipped to succeed in the future by harnessing the power of online tools.”
Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive of the British Hospitality Association, said: “The British public want to enjoy the British Seaside, and people living in coastal communities want a thriving local economy. While we recognise the challenges facing many coastal communities, we also know there are fantastic opportunities to boost seaside towns and help even more people enjoy a Great British Seaside holiday. We are delighted to partner with Google to help the industry tap into digital opportunities, reach more potential visitors from both the UK and overseas and turn the tide of coastal economies.”
Deirdre Wells, Chief Executive, UKinbound, said: “We fully support and welcome this initiative from Google. Our tourism industry is worth over £22 billion to the UK economy and is going from strength to strength. However with over 50% of international visitors currently only going to London, UKinbound is keen to ensure that the benefits of tourism are spread across the UK. Travellers are becoming more and more digitally connected and so investing in digital skills in our coastal areas will go a long way to helping us achieve this objective.”
Samantha Richardson, Academy Director at the National Coastal Tourism Academy, said: “The coast is the most visited overnight holiday destination for UK residents but has a significant unrealised potential. Digital skills can be a real barrier to growth for some small businesses and this welcome investment from Google will go a long way to help small businesses enhance their digital skills and ensure that they remain competitive in a global marketplace.”
Google’s digital skills training:
The Digital Garage is Google’s free training programme that comprises of digital skills training and personal mentoring sessions. We have already provided face to face training in over 80 towns in UK with extended pop ups in Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham and Glasgow, and we are committed to covering the length and breadth of the UK, including 100 towns and cities, where digital skills are needed.
Free training is also available through our Digital Garage online that allows anyone to get their personalised digital tune-up online from anywhere at any time. The platform covers over 20 topics explained through digestible action-oriented and plainly spoken lessons.
We worked with IPPR North to ensure that the training we provide delivers real business improvements. Their interim results show that 9 out of 10 “graduates” made changes to the way they promote and run their business online and 2 out of 3 “graduates” had seen some positive results in sales, bookings, traffic or followers.
The Digital Garage is delivered in partnership with relevant local and national partners organisations including the UK Government’s Department for International Trade, and charitable organisations including Tinder Foundation, Code Club and Raspberry Pi.