Richard Guiney, Fellow of the IPM, is CEO of Dublin Town, Dublin city’s Business Improvement District, the home of 2,500 businesses. This organization aims to make Dublin City a more attractive location for shopping, socializing and also for doing business. It operates a series of marketing programmes and events while also addressing barriers that restrict the city’s appeal. Richard has spoken on issues of place management in Europe, Asia and Australia. He is the Association of Town & City Management’s regional chair for Ireland and serves on Dublin City’s Transport & Policing Committees. Prior to joining Dublin Town, Richard served as Director of Corporate Services with Chambers Ireland, where he represented the Irish chambers of commerce at international level. He also oversaw the implementation of training programmes aimed at enhancing capacity within the Irish SME sector. Previously, he was Managing Director of Leargas Consulting, an organisation that specialized in feasibility and impact studies. He also worked on projects which promoted public private partnership. An Accountant and Tax Advisor by profession, Richard has a keen interest in the arts and has served on the board of a number of prominent national arts organisations in Ireland.
“Dublin Town BID was primarily established to regain market share after a number of out of town shopping destinations were developed on the edge of the city during the economic boom.”
Richard Guiney you are the CEO of the Dublin City Business Improvement District (BID) Dublin Town. When and why was this BID established? Who are its members and what does it do?
Richard Guiney: Dublin Town is Dublin city’s business improvement district. It works on behalf of its 2,500 business members to make the city more appealing as a destination for shopping, recreation and doing business. It was primarily established to regain market share after a number of out of town shopping destinations were developed on the edge of the city during the economic boom between 1995 and 2005.
What is the day-to-day work of a BID CEO and what strategic, long-term challenges do you face?
“Dublin needs to significantly improve its public transport infrastructure.”
Richard Guiney: Our role primarily consists of marketing the city, which includes organising events such as the Dublin Fashion Festival, Dine in Dublin and Dublin at Christmas. We erect Christmas lights on 30 streets each year. We have a cleaning crew which augments the city’s work. We remove graffiti from private buildings and operate an urgent response cleaning regime both day and night. We are currently engaged with the National Transport Authority to minimise the impacts on business from the construction of a tram line through the city. We work closely with the police on safety and security issues and with the city on designing a more accessible and welcoming city centre. We also work with developers and businesses to advise on commercial opportunities.
The long term challenges are primarily related to transport and access. Dublin needs to significantly improve its public transport infrastructure. So we are advocating for funding to be made available and for the construction to take place as efficiently as possible.
You have developed the concept of DublinTown brand and related district sub-brands. What is the role of Place Branding in your BID?
“We see branding as essential in creating a clear and specific message for each district.”
Richard Guiney: We wanted to create a brand for the city’s retail and hospitality core. Dubliners call this part of the city ‘Town’ so Dublin Town was a logical name. However, we found that different demographic groups tend to visit different parts of the city and they have different expectations for each area, so we have started to develop district sub-brands that allow us to better market and promote these districts to their own customer bases. We see this work as essential in creating a clear and specific message for each district. There is also the task of ensuring that destination lives up to the promotion and maintaining those standards is a critical part of our work.
Are there any visible and measureable results from the Dublin Town BID?
Richard Guiney: Yes, public through surveys have confirmed that the city experience is improving despite the sharp economic decline between 2008 and 2013. They are also more likely to visit the city than the out of town centres, which is very rewarding for us. We have worked closely with a range of partners primarily the police to address perceptions of public safety. We are making progress with this too. Our branding and marketing propositions are better known and supported by the general public. Finally, we have to renew our mandate every 5 years through a ballot of the entire business community – And we are still here!
As an international member-based organisation the Institute of Place Management wants to support its members’ work. What has your experience with the IPM been so far and what do you expect from it?
“I took a lot from the study trip to Berlin and look forward to participating in further study trips”
Richard Guiney: I am very pleased with my experience so far. I have seen some very interesting research papers, not least on the value of markets, and also took a lot from the study trip to Berlin. I look forward to participating in further study trips and hearing about innovations in other cities. Also, I intend studying for the MSc. in Place Management. All in all, a good return for my membership.
The interview was conducted by Ares Kalandides