What is a BID and how does it work?

The BID in numbers

COVID-19: The impact on Watford

Theme 1 – Enhancing the look & feel of the town

Theme 2 – Promotion, marketing and events

Theme 3 – Working together to secure the future of the town

2016-2021: What has Watford BID achieved so far?

Theme 2 – Promotion, marketing and events


Switched on our Christmas lights

In 2016, we celebrated our first Christmas by inviting a stiltwalking, illuminated Snow King and Queen, to turn on our lights. In 2017/18 there was no switch-on in the town due to limitations caused by the intu development, so we ran alternative Christmas activities. Then in 2019 we celebrated our new lights with a switch on event attended by over 10,000 people.

Did you know…

  • The Christmas Lights were seen by 317,000 people across Watford BID’s social media channels
  • There was 96% visitor satisfaction rate with Winter in Watford activities

Ran ‘Watford Weekender’ promotions

We invited businesses to run special offers, events or activities during our Watford Weekenders, which we promoted across all media channels. The number of businesses participating climbed by 25% from 2016 to 2017. In 2018 we added 36 new businesses to the activities, weekend footfall was up significantly and 80% of participants received enquiries or customers due the Weekender.


Did you know in 2018…

  • Thomas Sabo was the best performing store in the UK for the Saturday of the Weekender
  • Runners World had its busiest Saturday of the year
  • Cath Kidston sales were up 36% on the previous year
  • Everyone Active signed up 9 new members

Launched Watford Food & Drink Week

Our first Food & Drink Week ran in 2017, with 52 businesses offering bespoke offers. By 2019, it had evolved to being £5, £10 and £15 set menus, which narrowed participation to 21 restaurants but proved very successful with consumers. It culminated with a tasting festival in the new development of intu. Visitor figures to the website doubled in 2019 to 2,900 visitors. 73% of participating restaurants said they gained new customers.


Created & distributed Watford Food & Drink map

We featured all the pubs, bars, cafes, restaurants and takeaways in the BID area in a fold out leaflet and map, which was then distributed to hotels, shopping centres and other visitor information points around the region.


“The set menus are a great idea – if you are on a budget it helps to know how much you will roughly spend and encourage more people to take part.”

Website feedback


Promoted everything Christmas related

We joined forces with Watford Borough Council, the Palace Theatre, Watford Colosseum and intu shopping centre and created Winter in Watford. All events and activities happening in Watford over the festive period were promoted on a dedicated website, backed by a strong advertising campaign. The campaign even went on the road, with bus backs promoting Watford. By 2019, the website received three times more visitors than the previous year.


Rewarded responsible drinking during World Cup

We teamed up with CitiPark car parks and several pubs and bars in the town, and created the Designated Driver campaign, offering free non-alcoholic drinks for designated drivers during World Cup games.


Getting behind Watford FC

When Watford reached the FA Cup final for the first time since 1984, we encouraged businesses to decorate their frontages and ran a best dressed window competition. It really contributed to a fantastic atmosphere in the town and created a lot of positivity over social media.


Supported outdoor theatre: Imagine Festival

Each year the Imagine Festival brings thousands of people into the town to see the spectacular Friday evening show and a weekend of live street theatre. We promoted, supported and sponsored this event.


Showcased the night-time economy

We have promoted Watford town centre’s wide and varied night-time economy with a range of promotional activities including bus back adverts, social media campaigns, as well as contributing to the purchase of a bus for the Street Angels. We co-ordinated and managed the Purple Flag award which recognises the management and offer of night-time economy.

Launched the Watford Gift Card

In February 2020, the BID launched the Watford Gift Card, which is free to all BID businesses. The programme is designed to lock in additional money for participating businesses and raise awareness of those businesses. Promotion of the card continues into 2020/21. In 2020, 35 businesses were participating in the scheme.


Launched a Visitor Guide

In September 2016, Watford hosted the Master Golf Tournament at The Grove Hotel, the BID saw an opportunity to promote Watford to a new audience and produced a Watford visitor guide which was distributed on the buses to and from the tournament. It was then distributed via visitor information points across the region.

Launched Visit Watford

In 2019, following extensive research, Visit Watford was formed. Visit Watford is funded via a range of partners, including the BID – and is used to support and deliver the BID’s consumer marketing. The Visit Watford team are based in the BID office and managed on a day to day basis by the BID, reporting to their own partnership Board.


Visit Watford undertakes a variety of destination marketing activities for the town including the online promotion of local businesses driving football to increase sales. With strong levels of engagement from over 5,000 followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, its dedicated website at www.visitwatford.com includes full listings of firms offering a comprehensive range of products and services across the area including town-centre hotels, tourist attractions, cafes, bars and independent retail outlets, along with the latest guide to scheduled cultural, leisure and business events.