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Top tips from past winners

Thank you to everyone who contributed the following:

Phil Russell - www.torviewshepherdshuts.co.uk

Why did you enter the awards?

We thought it would be a good opportunity to put ourselves up against other similar accommodation in the area. It was also a good opportunity to spend time thinking about how far we had come and what our next steps should be.

How did you find the process?

The initial application process was straightforward. When it came to the judge’s visit, we were nervous but they put us at ease and made sure we had a chance to talk about what we thought made Tor View Shepherds Huts worthy of an award.

The rewards

Winning the Gold Award is a huge honour as reinforces why we have worked so hard to make Tor View Shepherds Huts a success. The many messages of congratulations we have received from others in the industry, local businesses, and former guests, have been lovely. The Award also helps with our marketing and promotion!

Top tips for other businesses 

Use it as a learning tool – even if you don’t reach the finals or win, the process of applying has made you think about your business, its strengths and weaknesses, and future plans. So it is never wasted effort! If you do reach the finals and/or win, enjoy the evening and the promotional opportunities it brings.

Emma Warren - www.dimpsey.co.uk

We’re absolutely delighted to have won the gold Glamping and Alternative accommodation award for the second year running.  Like everyone, we work hard at what we do and the award entry process provides a valuable time to reflect on what we’ve achieved for the year, and the feedback gives us food for thought about where we can improve matters.  To be recognised for what we do is so motivating for all of us, and the Awards dinner is always a great night out with our peers!

Top tips

Collect things you do well as they happen during the year, just a few notes in a notebook - it makes the entry form so much easier.

Don’t panic...the questions are straightforward and not designed to trip you up.

Be factual and to the point and then the word count is easier to manage.

Jon Ducker - www.americanmuseum.org

Why did you enter the awards?

In all honesty for benchmarking and feedback. To help improve our visitor experience.
We wanted to capture on paper, the essence of the Museum and why it was so special. Entering the awards helped us to do this in a constructive way. It got us scratching our heads, nodding a lot and thinking about our corner of Bath as a first time visitor would and what the expectations of a repeat visitor would be.  We know we have a lot to offer and that the quality of it is of a high standard but we’d never taken the plunge to seek recognition for it and never anticipated winning…. this year!

How did you find the process?

Challenging (in a positive way) but rewarding. When you start to write down and list all your accomplishments it’s hard to stop sometimes and focus on the real essence of your year.  Everyone at the Museum was eager to ensure their individual and team achievements were included so it’s really important whoever is the editor, sets a quality bench mark for what goes in and what’s left on the cutting room floor.

The rewards

Smiles, smiles, smiles. Happy, happy, happy. New friends. Over the moon supporters and partners and a warm glow for everyone who makes the Museum such a special place.

Top tips for other businesses

Get your team thinking about your entry now! How has your business stood out and why should you win award? Even if you don’t win this time, your business will improve just by the process and feedback you’ll receive making winning the next time even more of a certainty.

Beverley & Sarah Milner Simonds - www.eatfestivals.org

"We are thrilled to have won Gold this year. To be judged by ones peers and come out on top is tremendously encouraging for the team. The process of applying is rigorous and you need to devote some effort to getting it completed to the highest level - but this process (along with the feedback) makes this a great investment in auditing your activities and outputs.”

Brett Bates & Susan Juggins - http://dunsterbeachhut.com/

Why did you enter the awards?

The offer of advice from industry experts, as a new business and also having never worked in the tourism industry we needed all the help we could get. We needed to talk to as many people as possible and see how the best businesses did things. We needed inspiration!  

How did you find the process?

The process was straight forward but do not leave it until the last minute, give yourself time to think, you will be surprised at just how much you probably already do. The process also helped show us where we were weak and needed to make improvements.

The rewards

We met loads of great, like-minded people with infectious positivity, we took full advantage of the training offered and the comprehensive feedback was also incredibly useful, pointing us to what we needed to focus on. It helped to put our little business on the map and gave us the confidence in what we were doing. The awards night was just the icing on the cake. Saying you are an award winning business also shows your customers how much you care and gives them confidence in you.

Top tips for other businesses

Do not worry if you are only a small business, have a go, you have nothing to lose and as one of our judges said to us “do not hide your light under a bushel”.

Rhian McIntosh - www.noahsarkzoofarm.co.uk

Why did you enter the awards?

We have entered the awards for a few years now and following the success of previous years,  the awards help us to improve the general facilities of the zoo as we act on the feedback and recommendations made by the mystery shoppers. We strive to continue improving Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm for visitors and our aim was to improve on our silver sustainable tourism award from last year!

How did you find the process?

The process was easy to follow and allowed all members of our team to get involved. It was great to be able to focus on our strengths and made us proud.

The rewards

The fantastic feedback from our visitors following the awards night has been incredible. The 2 gold awards have rewarded all the staff and volunteers at Noah’s Ark for all the hard work and dedication they put in throughout the year to enable our visitors to have a fun and safe day out!

Top tips for other businesses

Show off your attraction and be proud of who you are. Think about what makes you different from everyone else! Noah’s Ark is still a working farm and this is one of the aspects that makes us unique. We would also recommend involving members of staff from across your site in the process, during the process we spoke to the animal team, grounds team and catering team which helped us to write the application!

Sarah Harris - www.warren-farm.co.uk

How does it feel to win an award?

Winning the gold award for Holiday Park Of The Year was an incredible feeling. We couldn’t quite believe it! The awards evening was a great event and we are so pleased we took part. We’re now proudly displaying our award and certificate. It is just fantastic to receive such high recognition.

Top tips

To anyone thinking about entering the awards, I’d say just go for it! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The entry forms are time-consuming, but it’s worth taking the time for. It’s actually a great exercise to really consider what makes your business unique. We found the whole process very worthwhile and we’d definitely enter again.

Rebecca McElliott - www.discoversouthsomerset.com

Why did you enter the awards?

We entered the awards because it was a really enjoyable experience in the previous year and we wanted to challenge ourselves to see if we could get gold. The staff went above and beyond and we were able to improve on last year.

How did you find the process?

It was really well organised and we enjoyed completing the application form. It makes you remember how much you have done and achieved as a business over the year and it brought the team together.

The rewards

It is a real honour to receive the Gold award this year and it makes all the hard work worth it. The award will take pride of place at the tourism information centre and the staff are all extremely proud of their achievement.

Top tips for other businesses

Make sure you talk about all your successes in the application form as the judges will not know unless you tell them. Enjoy the process, we certainly did!

Emily Hughes - www.romanbaths.co.uk

Why did you enter the awards?

We are continually proud of the success of the Roman Baths & Pump Room as a visitor attraction and a venue for private hire outside of museum hours, and entering these awards was a very effective way of being able to see how we compare to our competitors, evaluating how our teams are all working together, benchmarking, and goal setting for the next year.

How did you find the process?

The process was very thorough and required a lot of attention to detail from various individuals and teams. We found it an interesting exercise in reflecting on our working processes, as well as being able to assess where we are in terms of recent developments and achievements. 

The rewards

We all strive tirelessly to achieve great customer satisfaction and recognition is both motivational and justification for what we do. Winning a Gold award is a wonderful reward for everyone as well as being a benchmark of success. We are delighted to be able to show off our award to existing and potential customers.

Top tips for other businesses

Always ask for feedback and act upon it. It is so important to listen to and learn from your customers and competitors, and to be able to adapt the service that you offer in such a competitive climate. 

Dimpsey Glamping  - www.dimpsey.co.uk

Why did you enter the awards?

I find the whole process really helpful.  The preparation and completion of the entry form makes me sit down and take stock and review what we’ve achieved and it’s really good to take the time out to do that or you miss how much progress you’ve made.  Then the actual award nights are a great opportunity to network with like-minded people and hear what they’re doing.  The feedback from the judges was really useful – and of course, being able to shout loudly and proudly that we were winners was fantastic – great feeling and great for our guests to know.

How did you find the process?

It was really well organised and easy to follow what we needed to do.  It’s hard writing about yourself but you do have to showcase and make sure that you recognise what your strong and weak points are.

The rewards

It makes all the hard work worthwhile – hospitality isn’t an easy industry so to actually be recognised as doing it well was fantastic.  It has given us confidence to move forward and move our business on, as well as recognition and profile in our local area and nationally.

Top tips for other businesses

Be yourself, do what they ask you to do, be clear and concise and try to enjoy it rather than worry about it.