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Tips from Past Entrants

We thank our recent winners who have contributed short case studies for this website: 

Wadworth Brewery Visitor Centre

Gold for Small Visitor Attraction 2014/15Wadworth

www.wadworthvisitorcentre.co.uk

Why did I enter?

Our customer feedback had been so positive over the past few years, amongst great reviews online – so we thought we’d just go for it & enter! We had no idea that we would even be selected or that we would be awarded  anything when we first registered the entry.

How did I find the process?

The process was concise and did take a while to get right, but it was well worth spending the extra time doing so. It helped me re-evaluate our current literature, making sure we were up to speed with all the information and that was consistent all round.

What were the results?

We won GOLD! We were totally overwhelmed by the result, especially as we had convinced ourselves of a potential Bronze award at first. For us to be able to use the title ‘ gold award-winning’ in our business, has opened so many more doors for us in the future, especially when group travel is involved.

My top tips for others…

Don’t rush the entry – take your time to answer each section, and answer them honestly. Look at your business from the outside and try to assess it from the customers point of view. Ask yourself what you would like to see, and how it can be achieved – then act on it. Once these things are in the forefront of your mind, you can build on them. Our mystery customer visit was vital for our success, it gave a true account of the business and was a great training tool for the team. 

Cross Lane House

Highly Commended in B&B and Guest Accommodation - 2014/15Cross Lane House

www.crosslanehouse.com

Why did I enter the awards?

The awards are a high profile event in the region and we felt that Cross Lane House and our team deserved some recognition for the excellence that they deliver day-in-and-day out to our visitors.  It is also nice to be recognised as contributing the reputation of the South West.

How did I find the process?

The process involved gathering as much evidence as we could to support our claims that we in our opinion do a great job.  It also involved much retrospective thought, most businesses make improvements and they become part of the day-to-day operation, thought needed to be given to what we have done to improve the business and the experience of the guest and we do that practically every day.

What were the results?

In our second year of business we reached the ‘Highly Commended’ status, alongside some very notable players in the market that had been around for a considerable amount of time.

My top tips to others 

Don’t try to complete the application in a rush – take a few weeks and keep going back to it, your memory works on the application during this time.  Make note of improvements however small you make on a daily basis.  Use the mystery guest report to fine tune what you do – this is an impartial piece of feedback.

Carbis Bay Hotel & Estate

Silver Winner in Venue & Business Tourism 2014/15Carbis Bay

www.carbisbayhotel.co.uk

Why did you enter the awards?

In our increasingly competitive tourism industry it is vital to ensure we stay ahead of the game. Recognition from bodies such as the South West Tourism Awards is an excellent way for us to monitor how we are being received, not to mention it being a huge boost to staff morale.

We have so much to offer and promote - in terms of our unique location and facilities including our  new spa and beach club restaurant.

How you found the process?

Although initially it may appear daunting, the application process proved to be a methodical process in analysing our business and how we are operating. 

We appreciate the opportunity to showcase our business through the written application and it was a very beneficial process, focusing on what we do best – the shortlist being partly determined by a review of our daily operation.

The rewards

Being shortlisted was a big boost, through the kudos we receive from being recognised together with additional PR and media coverage.  We are proud to emphasise the award within our own marketing activities.

We are honoured to be associated with these Awards and look forward to future events and cooperation with the aim of furthering awareness of our business and Cornwall in general.

Top tips to other businesses?

Take every opportunity to showcase your business - if you do something well, shout about it!

Your success is your responsibility.

Hele Valley Holiday Park

GOLD WINNER IN DEVON TOURISM AWARDS 2014

www.helevalley.co.uk

Why We Entered

We entered the awards back in 2011 and achieved a Bronze award, which we shouted about from the hilltops.  We really wanted to be recognised as a brand leader in the industry.  We wanted to prove that we could be as good as and better than the bigger parks. 

How We Found the Process

We were concerned about filling in the forms correctly but once I had organised my thoughts in some bullet points, I then found it quite easy.  I tried to be as positive and honest as possible, I looked back to our previous entry and saw where we had improved.  The whole process is made very easy for applicants.  We received as I’m sure everyone else did, the personal touch from Robin Barker, who always let us know what was happening and replying to our emails personally and promptly.

The Rewards

We went to awards thinking we would achieve a Bronze award like last time, when our name wasn’t announced for Bronze and then not for Silver, the feeling was amazing.  We have been at Hele Valley for 42 years and I’ve never felt so proud before.  The award has been a huge morale boost for us, our team and the owners on our Park.  It makes everybody feel that they are part of a quality organisation.  Our team in particular had an instant boost, they were so proud to have their hard work validated.   We haven’t received our feedback yet, but we look forward to it so we can improve for next year.    We immediately posted our result on social media, we were astounded by the results, our owners, guests and friends were all so happy for us and told us how much we deserved it.  An award like this spurs you on, everybody likes to think they are doing a good job but it’s so good to have it confirmed by such a prestigious award in our industry.

Top Tips

Take your time over the your entry, don’t be afraid to show off what your proud of.  Use it as an exercise to be brutally honest and see where you can improve your business. Ask your team what they think, you may have missed that vital Gold winning fact that they may pick up on.

The White House, Charmouth

BED & BREAKFAST OF THE YEAR - GOLD AWARD 2014White House

www.whitehousehotel.com

WHY YOU ENTER AWARDS?

In 2002, a year after opening The White House we were looking for a way of building on the work we had put into our new venture, how to get our message out to a wider audience. We saw then that Taste of the West were running an awards scheme which seemed to mirror our ethos, so having very little to lose, we entered. We were successful in our categories of B&B and Restaurant and the resulting publicity gave us and the business a massive boost, much greater visibility but most importantly, it gave potential customers confidence that what we were offering had the endorsement of a reputable independent organisation.

However an award won in 2003 starts to look a little stale by 2005 and slightly pointless in 2014. Therefore we have always been on the look out for ways of keeping our credentials up to date and relevant. The Dorset Tourism Awards, which we first entered in 2013, fits very much into that category.

HOW YOU FOUND THE PROCESS?

I thought to answer the questions on the entry forms looked initially a little onerous. However simply by writing out draft answers to the questions, I found myself looking at our business, what we offer and how we run it from a slightly different perspective. You realise where you can make relatively quick improvements, identify your strengths and weaknesses, see what needs changing or indeed what needs abandoning. The time spent doing this was well worth it.

THE REWARDS

The immediate reward is that the hard work and commitment we all put into our businesses is recognised and acknowledged by our peers- and there are no harsher critics than your competitors. This is of course a big morale boost for both owners and staff which feeds through to the service given to your customers.

The marketing opportunities are enormous. Telling previous customers in a mailshot what you won, putting the logos and story out on your website, blogs, twitter feeds, Facebook etc. We picked up over 80 new 'follows' on twitter within 24 hrs. of the awards ceremony and it continues to rise which means we are reaching more potential customers.

Receiving feedback from the judges can be a heady mix of very satisfying, a little enlightening and mildly frustrating but you do get an honest and very useful appraisal from a qualified customer perspective.

I believe that winning an award such as this indicates that a business is looking forward, not resting on its laurels and trading on past glory. A Dorset Tourism Award definitely gives you a commercial advantage over your competitors which is vital especially in these days where margins are squeezed and competition is fierce.

TOP TIPS TO OTHER BUSINESSES?

Give yourself plenty of time to fill in the forms and be thorough.

Take a good long hard look at what you do and be brutally honest with yourself, big yourself up where you have your strengths and recognise where to improve on perceived weaknesses. Make sure you can back up your claims and don't promise what you cant deliver.

Most of all, just do it. Whether you win or not, just going the process is