• Nick Lansley

Local Businesses: Make sure you can be found as my “nearest”.

It’s always been easy (read: lazy) for me to organise a family or friends’ night out in nearby Brighton because we just take the cab to the centre and wander around exploring the many pub and restaurant delights.

However, some local evening attractions around where we live in Peacehaven have slowly been making themselves aware to me through my use of the prefix ‘nearby’ in search requests. Indeed, one of the most exciting aspects of the growth of location services has been the discovery of retailers, restaurants, entertainment and attractions that are happening all around me in our home town.

And frankly, never have I enjoyed myself more than walking to some great restaurants, pubs and bars that I didn’t know existed – all of them no more than 15 minutes away.

Recently, I even uncovered a great pub on a side-road with some talented indie, rock and tribute bands playing, along with local Sussex ales and my favourite Aspall Cyder. What a find!

The challenge now is to bring this location knowledge to the latest generation of interactive smart devices that will increasingly get installed in our homes. Yes, I’m talking about you, Alexa (the Amazon Echo) and you, Google Assistant (the Google Home device which urgently needs a cutsie name because “OK Google” sounds like I’m talking to a faceless brand…).

I find myself increasing using Alexa to locate local shops, bars and restaurants: Me: “Alexa, what is the closest pub selling Harvey’s beer?“. Alexa: “According to your postcode settings, the nearest pub is Badgers Watch, 1 mile away. Opening hours are 11 am until midnight. Use the Alexa app for more information“.

And when I open the Alexa app, I see Yelp standing by with more info and a map link so my phone can walk me there. That’s all I need to know to start an enjoyable evening out.

With this experience and ease of access, it’s vital that local businesses engage with location-based search services and have information that can easily and quickly voiced by this new generation of always-on house-bound interactive devices.

Why? Because if Alexa doesn’t tell me, then I may never find them myself.

If Alexa does tell me, but is having to read out some awful pointless gushing marketing blurb, or perhaps worse, sentences full of abbreviations that may read OK on the web but are confusing when voiced, then I just shout, “Alexa: Next!“.

And that’s lost business from a local citizen who feels good that their money is going into the local economy.

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