Hints & Tips
Every excellent tourism business in the region stands a chance of winning an award, whatever its size or scale.
Previous entrants tell us that completing the entry forms is hard work, but a valuable activity in itself that often helps entrants with their own planning and development - with new ideas often forming as a result.
These hints and tips are designed to make the entry process as painless and productive as possible. They also explain the requirements of entry and what the judges will be looking for from your answers.
Six steps to success
Step 1. Check you are eligible
There are a few restrictions to entering some categories. For example if you want to enter accommodation categories then you must be quality assessed by a recognised independent quality assessment body. Please see the description of each category.
The judges are looking for evidence of quality improvements over the last 2 years. If you entered last year then make it clear what improvements/additions have been made since your last entry.
Step 2. Read the forms carefully
The forms have seen significant changes since last year and consist of about 6 sections depending on the category you are entering. There is a word limit for each section, which must not be exceeded (judges will simply not read any 'excess words').
Step 3. Top Tips and Common Mistakes
- Read all questions before you start, so you can ensure you include your answers in the most appropriate section.
- Don’t exceed the word limit! If you do, the excess words will be ‘blanked out’ before being seen by the judges! (In balance, do take advantage of the full word limit available).
- Answer all the questions. Marks are awarded for each question and any missed questions will mean your entry cannot be short-listed.
- Tell the judges why you are different, be yourself and be passionate about your commitment to excellence. Don’t be tempted to get someone else to write it for you – it invariably will not impress the judges.
- Provide evidence of success for each question. Choose two or three strong pieces of evidence that relate to each answer.
- Answer factually and honestly. Facts are more convincing than fluff! And if you are mystery shopped, your claims will be checked.
- Feedback and quotes from visitors make strong evidence. Tourism is a people business and judges are looking for evidence that you have made a difference to someone’s visit.
- Presentation matters! Make it look professional and easy to read, with page breaks in sensible places. Bullet points are far easier to read than long paragraphs.
- Use simple English and avoid jargon.
- Do a spell check – and if possible get someone else to read through your entry to check anything you may have missed.
- If you need help for guidance filling in the form please email email@example.com or call Robin Barker on 07870 397438.
Step 4. Prepare supporting evidence, if desired
You may submit one piece of electronic supporting evidence if you wish. Additional evidence is therefore no longer sought, but you may feel it essential in providing specific pieces of evidence.
Support files should be no more than 5mb in size and have your business name included in the file name.
Please note that supplementary evidence is voluntary and NOT essential for regional awards, but will be required for any entrant that wins Gold in the region and is submitted to the National awards. You will be advised later if this applies to you.
Step 5. Check your website
The initial short-listing will be based on the information provided within the application form along with a look at your website, digital activities and any third party sites, such as Tripadvisor. Please check your website and make sure it is up to date, free of typos, as well as inspirational and informative.
Step 6. Submit your entry
When you have completed the form then email it as a 'Word' attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember! The judges have to read many applications so make yours stand out by focusing on what is unusual or innovative. Don’t be modest. This is your chance to shine!
Hints on the question areas
Occupancy & Seasonality
The region’s tourism economy and employment depends a great deal on a tourism offering that extends beyond just the peak seasons. Use this section to comment on your visitor numbers, how they differ from peak to low season, and how you are doing year-on-year. Include examples of actions you have undertaken to extend your season, such as:
- New facilities, packages or activities that attract year-round visitors
- Special marketing initiatives, maybe working with partner businesses
Commitment to Excellence
Please demonstrate how you ensure your guests experience the highest quality service before, during and after their stay. Visitors feel excited, yet apprehensive. Will the experience live up to their expectations? Examples of commitment to excellence may include:
- First impressions and the warmth of welcome you provide on arrival
- Evidence of how you make your visitors feel special and ‘go the extra mile’
- The changes you have made over the last two years to improve the visitor experience
- Examples of your visitor feedback and how you act upon it
- How you try to stay ahead of your competitors.
Accessibility / Open to All
Please describe how you have made your business more accessible to all visitors. This doesn’t just mean wheelchair users but anyone with a whole range of specific requirements from hearing impairments to dietary needs, from elderly visitors to parents with pushchairs. Examples may include:
- Your access statement and how you communicate it to guests
- New facilities, equipment and services
- Attendance on training courses eg Welcome All
- Information in different formats eg in large print
Please describe what actions you have taken to improve all aspects of the sustainability of your business. Examples may include how you:
- Reduce the amount of water and energy you use or the waste you produce
- Support your local community (employing local staff, buying local produce, sponsoring local schools and events, etc)
- Encourage wildlife
- Promote sustainable methods of transport (eg providing visitors with public transport information, cycle hire etc)
- Get your customers/staff involved.
Please describe your target market(s), the way that you reach them and the ways they can find out about you.
The judges will be interested in new developments such as new social media initiatives, web site developments, web optimisation, your online bookability, promotional campaigns and working in partnership with other businesses. Do you check user-generated sites such as Trip Advisor for good and bad reviews? Do you have guest/visitor testimonials in your marketing? Please make reference to your marketing plan if you have one.
Staff Training and Development
This question allows you to demonstrate how you value your staff and recognise them as key to the success of your business. The judges would like to know:
- How you make your staff feel valued
- Details of your staff (or your own) training. How do you keep your skills up to date? What training has been completed in, for example ICT, leadership, via the Welcome to Excellence programme, on accessibility or sustainability. Don’t forget online training.
- How this training improved the visitor experience in your business.