With less than a dozen listings for shops and only a couple of dozen listings each for hotels and food and drink it looked far from finished and certainly not fit for the purpose of planning a visit. That anybody thought it was ready to go live is astonishing.
The site was designed by The Lane Agency who quickly denied any involvement with the content. Though done in the name of the mothballed Marketing Edinburgh, who did actually answer my email, the council had given £55K to the Edinburgh Tourist Action Group (ETAG) to head up the project. Further funding has also been made available from private investment.
What transpired was a lot of backtracking and redefining of what the website was about, an obvious ploy given that the site was clearly indefensible as a way to plan a visit to Edinburgh.
First of all the word platform started to be used rather than website. The site I was told was a platform for businesses to promote themselves. However it was by invite only, which is not a good start, and even more importantly anybody in business knows that shops in particular but most businesses in general have neither the time nor the inclination to get involved in such things. ETAG who also contacted me, bemoaned the unsurprising poor response they had had from those invited to take part.
I was told there was to be a second round of invites and those adverts clearly aimed at the public were now being touted as expected to raise interest from businesses too who were free to get in touch.
Nobody involved in setting up this website has covered themselves in glory but the fact is, if done properly, this could be a valuable resource for businesses, locals and visitors. As it stands it is no use to anybody.
I did receive a phone call from Roddy Smith, CEO of Essential Edinburgh, acknowledging the take up had been poor among those contacted and a quick improvement was needed if the site was to reach its potential. While that is hopeful all businesses need to be reached outside of Essential Edinburgh and it only shows again that Edinburgh needs one large BID covering the entire city.
This is a site in which content is everything and that is where the financial focus should be but my concern is that all the money will be spent on professionals and expensive advertising with the former more interested in their LinkedIn profiles than whether the site is one that will actually aid businesses at this most difficult of times when anything that improves profile can only help.