LinkNYC kiosks a boon to Queens biz

LinkNYC has placed 1,399 of its Wi-Fi kiosks across New York City almost two years after its launch. The stations were placed around the city near transit stops and businesses, replacing old telephone booths.

Business owners with kiosks in front of their stores in Jamaica have been using the advertising capabilities of LinkNYC to boost customer traffic and profits since their release.

“We are excited to work with the Jamaica BID and local small businesses to give them the opportunity to advertise on Links,” said Ruth Fasoldt, the community affairs manager for LinkNYC. “Local ads run on two 55-inch digital displays on the Link closest to each business. Over 15 businesses along Jamaica Ave have participated thus far and we have gotten great feedback.”

LinkNYC Wi-Fi can bring free services like phone calls and wireless web access to the city because of its paid advertising program. Its latest efforts citywide allow for business owners to advertise on booths closer to their area.

Valerie Stevens, the director of business services at the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District, says she’s seen an increase in walk-ins at individually owned businesses and a change in aesthetics on Jamaica Avenue.

“I think it’s great to have it here,” said Stevens. “It’s a great marketing tool for the businesses on Jamaica Avenue. It promotes the avenue in a way that says this is marketable, there is revenue and businesses here.”

Stevens helped multiple stores advertise on the kiosks and gain the attention of larger audiences. In a back-to-school fashion show event hosted by the Jamaica Bid in August, Stevens said, she received a much larger crowd than expected thanks to the advertisements.

Maria Delgado from Yvelisse Salon talked to LinkNYC about how her profits have increased since the placement of the kiosks.

“We have recently had an ad (thanks to LinkNYC and JBID for sponsoring us) entered onto the LinkNYC screens,” said Delgado said in an email to the Chronicle. “We have had fans of our salon send us photos of our salon being promoted on the LinkNYC screens. It’s so fun to see them engage with our brand!”

Stevens’ talks with LinkNYC helped generate two months advertising on kiosks across the Jamaica strip for some businesses. Stevens planned to hold another meeting with LinkNYC to expand advertising to other boroughs and create a better package for Jamaica businesses.

“I think our businesses should be offered a reasonable fee to promote,” said Stevens. “The businesses really liked seeing their brand on the machines. Our businesses should be given first choice to promote because they will be making money within the district.”

Mayor de Blasio’s office announced the choice of CityBridge as the 12-year franchise agreement winner to orchestrate the LinkNYC program on Nov. 17, 2014. The project was set to replace public pay-phone booths with the latest technology.

Technological companies CityBridge, Intersection, Qualcomm and CIVIQ Smartscapes coordinated to make the kiosk stations user-friendly with a touch screen pad and slim design.

Antenna Design, the tech company responsible for the kiosks’ structure, made them to withstand the extreme weather conditions of New York like floods and snowstorms, and even earthquakes, according to LinkNYC.

“There are more than 1,100 active Links in all five boroughs and thousands more are coming over the next few years,” said Fasoldt. “Each Link offers superfast Wi-Fi, phone calls, a 911 button and other services completely for free. Working with neighborhood businesses is a key part of our mission to make Link an integral part of the communities we deploy.”

Nearly 163 Links are placed around Queens on bus, train and traffic routes. That means almost 12 percent of kiosks in the city are in Queens.

Along Jamaica Avenue between 76th and 168th streets, there are 51 kiosks, according to the LinkNYC website map.

Queens Boulevard holds the most in the borough between 78th Avenue and Van Dam Street with 54. Roosevelt Avenue falls in second with 35 booths between 72nd and Warren streets. Broadway between Corona Avenue and 75th Street holds 31 kiosks with other areas in the single digits.

A representative from Make Me Over Beauty Bar on Jamaica Avenue and Merrick Boulevard talked to LinkNYC about how they encourage customers to use the Links.

“We recommend LinkNYC to our customers daily when they ask for free Wi-Fi service,” the company said, in an email sent to the Chronicle. “The comfort of the nearby kiosk provides free Wi-Fi to our customers sitting in the waiting area.”

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