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Which Categories?

Below is a short description of the awards categories this year.  There are some new awards and some changes to existing criteria so please do check to make sure that you eligible.  There may well be more than one that you wish to enter. 

If you won gold in the VisitEngland Awards 2018 you are not eligible to enter the same category this year. If you have won gold in the same category in the South West for two or more years, we’d advise considering a different category or offering to help us with judging.

We reserve the right to merge or split categories depending on entries.  We also reserve the right to move an entry into a different category should we consider it a better fit, though we will consult with you before doing this.

NEW CATEGORIES

SPECIAL AWARD - Age Friendly Tourism Business of the Year - Local charity Age UK Somerset has been helping to make life better for older people since 1948!  To mark their 70th Anniversary, this year there will be a special Award to recognise and celebrate those (tourism businesses, attractions, experiences, cafes, restaurants) who have considered the needs of older visitors and go out of their way to create a positive experience for those in later life.  Tourism businesses can self-nominate and nominations will also be invited from members of the public.  The winner will be decided by public votes and comments.

Outstanding Contribution to Tourism Award - This award is for an individual, group or organisation that has made a significant contribution to the tourism industry in the area.  It could be someone who has represented the region in a voluntary role, a visionary who has effected major change, a sector that supports the industry in some way or perhaps someone who has made a significant difference to large numbers of people working in the industry.  This award is open to third party nominations (ie not self nomination) including nominations from judges, the judging panel and the general public.

Tourism Innovation and New Business Award - This award recognises new businesses and innovative developments by existing tourism businesses designed to increase productivity and profitability, setting themselves apart from competitors.  It may be a unique customer experience that embraces new technology, a different approach to attracting customers or a new product or service.  Tourism businesses of any size may apply. Smaller tourism businesses have the potential to be recognised and judges will consider the scale of the innovation relative to the business size. The business must have completed its innovation or become open to visitors in the last two years (ie since March 2016).

CATEGORIES OPEN TO ALL BUSINESS TYPES

Access and Inclusivity Award - For tourism businesses that provide inclusive tourism experiences for all visitors, particularly for people with health conditions, impairments, accessibility requirements and their travelling companions.  This could include any business whose core purpose is to operate as part of the visitor economy eg accommodation providers, visitor attractions, restaurant/cafes, tourist information providers (Retail outlets are not eligible).

Business Tourism and Venue Award - This award is open to any organisation that excels in the wedding and business tourism sector eg exhibition centres, hotels, conference, wedding and banqueting venues, convention bureaux and destination organisations.  To enter this award your business must offer visitors an exceptional standard of service and an outstanding, memorable experience.

Customer Service Superstar Award - Individuals or small teams of up to 4 people working in the tourist industry that continually go above and beyond, offering exceptional customer service to visitors, should enter this award. It is intended primarily for customer facing ‘unsung heroes’ and not for managers or owners, except for those in very small businesses. Nominations may be from another staff member, a member of the public, by our own mystery visitors or by themselves.

Dog Friendly Business of the Year - This category is for any tourism business eg accommodation, attractions etc that offer the very best experience to dogs – and their human companions.

CHANGED CATEGORY - Responsible Ethical and Sustainable Tourism Award (REST) -   This category is for any tourism business that is committed to becoming more sustainable, responsible and ethical in the way it works.  Judging will take account of environmental, energy and recycling policies as well as how these are communicated to customers.  Judging will also consider employment practices and integration with the local community.  Awards, accreditations and accolades for sustainability practices will be taken into consideration by the judges as well as the overall quality of experience provided.

CHANGED CRITERIA Tourism Event/Festival of the Year - Events could include festivals, fairs, carnivals, shows or celebrations.  They can be paid entry or free but should demonstrate innovation, distinctiveness and should make a significant contribution to the economy of a destination eg attendance/participation figures likely to be in excess of 5000. The event could be a one off or a rolling series of annual events.  Judges will endeavour to visit the Event if timing allows, as such if you plan on entering this category please can you email awards@services4tourism.co.uk straight away.

Visitor Information Service of the Year - This award is for visitor information providers that provide visitors with an excellent standard of customer service and appropriate information.  This should be done through face to face contact as well as utilising social media and information technology but must include responding to individual enquiries rather than just information provision.  To enter this award your business must offer visitors an exceptional standard of service.

ACCOMMODATION CATEGORIES

NEW CRITERIA - Bed and Breakfast and Guesthouse of the Year - To enter this award your business must offer visitors an exceptional standard of service and an outstanding, memorable experience.  Your business must:

  • be described as a B and B, Guesthouse, Farmhouse or Pub
  • have a maximum of 12 guest bedrooms.
  • offer an excellent breakfast using local produce.

If your business has more than 12 rooms or offers 'Boutique Accommodation' we recommend you consider the 'Small Hotel & Boutique Accommodation' category.

Glamping Business and Alternative Accommodation of the Year - This category is for businesses where Glamping is the main accommodation offer - not an add-on to a campsite or holiday park - which can demonstrate exceptional customer service and offer an outstanding experience for visitors.  As well as the glamping sector ie Yurts, Tepees, Shepherd’s Huts, Safari Tents, Romany Caravans etc alternative accommodation should also enter this category.

Holiday Park of the Year - For holiday parks, villages and resorts, likely to have a mix of holiday homes and pitches, which may include caravan holiday homes, lodges, chalets and touring and camping pitches.  You are likely to have leisure facilities and food and drink outlets on the park and should be able to demonstrate exceptional customer service and offer an outstanding experience for visitors.  If your main accommodation offer is Glamping you should enter the Glamping and Alternative Accommodation category and if camping/touring that category.

Large Hotel of the Year - To enter this award your business must be a large hotel, probably with more than 35 rooms, and offer visitors an exceptional standard of service and an outstanding, memorable experience. If you are a small/boutique hotel you may wish to consider this category instead. Some hotels with fewer than 35 rooms may also enter this category if they are full service hotels with extensive facilities.

NEW CRITERIA - Self Catering Accommodation of the Year - For Self-catering accommodation and serviced apartments that are of an excellent standard and offer exceptional customer service.  Entrants could be one property or a collection at a single location.  Agencies are welcome to enter one or more properties that meet these criteria.  If your main business is Glamping you should enter the 'Glamping and Alternative Accommodation' category instead.

Small Hotel/Boutique Accommodation of the Year - To enter this award your business must be a small/boutique hotel, ‘boutique’ pub, inn or restaurant with rooms, probably with fewer than 35 rooms, and offer visitors an exceptional standard of service and an outstanding, memorable experience. If you have over 35 rooms or are a full service hotel with extensive facilities you may wish to consider the Large Hotel category instead.

Touring Camping and Caravanning Park of the Year - This category is for parks where the main provision is for touring caravans, motor homes and camping with few or no pitches occupied by caravan holiday homes or lodges. These parks should demonstrate exceptional customer service and offer an outstanding experience for visitors.  If your main accommodation offer is Glamping you should enter the Glamping and Alternative Accommodation category and if a Holiday Park (mainly static caravans and chalets) then that category.

EXPERIENCE AND ATTRACTION CATEGORIES

NEW CATEGORY Active and Sporting Experience Award - For businesses that can demonstrate that they have gone the extra mile to deliver an outstanding and innovative active and sporting experience eg surf schools, coasteering, climbing, kite surfing.  To enter this award your business must offer visitors an exceptional standard of service and a memorable experience. If you run guided tours you should enter the separate guided tour category. If volume of entries warrant this might be merged into a tourism experience category.

Guided Tour of the Year (on water, air or land) - For businesses and individuals offering tours with interpretation.  The tour must be open to the public and could be led by paid staff or volunteers on land, in air or water eg walking, river, sea, bicycle, bus tours, plane tour.  Entrants should be able to demonstrate that they have gone the extra mile to deliver an outstanding and innovative guided tour and must offer visitors an exceptional standard of service and a memorable tour.  Tours that are part of an Attraction visit are not eligible for this category and the information should be entered as part of the relevant Attraction entry.

International/Inbound Visitor Experience of the Year - All sectors of the tourism industry should apply if they can demonstrate that they have gone the extra mile to promote and deliver an outstanding experience for visitors from overseas eg visitor attractions, accommodation, guided tours, business/convention centres, language schools or activity providers.  To enter this award your business must offer international visitors an exceptional standard of service and a memorable experience. 

Large Attraction of the Year - This category is for visitor attractions with 75,000 visitors a year or more, including those that offer pre-booked tickets, museums and galleries, churches and cathedrals, interpretation centres, theme parks, historic houses, gardens, country parks, heritage railways and castles.  To enter this award your business must offer visitors an exceptional standard of service and an outstanding, memorable experience.

NEW CATEGORY Learning Experience of the Year - For businesses that can demonstrate that they have gone the extra mile to deliver an outstanding and innovative learning experience eg art schools, pottery classes, cookery schools, wine tasting etc.  To enter this award your business must offer visitors an exceptional standard of service and a memorable experience.  If you run guided tours you should enter the separate guided tour category. If volume of entries warrant this might be merged into a tourism experience category.

Small Attraction of the Year - This category is for visitor attractions with fewer than 75,000 visitors a year, including those that offer pre-booked tickets, museums and galleries, churches and cathedrals, interpretation centres, theme parks, historic houses, gardens, country parks, heritage railways and castles.  To enter this award your business must offer visitors an exceptional standard of service and an outstanding, memorable experience.

Spa, Pampering and Wellbeing Experience of the Year - This category is for businesses of all sizes that offer an outstanding experience to visitors and deliver an outstanding and innovative Spa, Pampering or Wellbeing Experience eg spas, yoga breaks, health retreats, etc whether standalone or part of another business. 

FOOD AND DRINK CATEGORIES

Café/Tearoom of the Year - This award is open to cafés and tearooms that provide great service and serve excellent food from local/regional suppliers.  Entrants must be committed to sourcing produce locally and communicating this to customers.  Entrants may consider this category, or the separate categories of Restaurant or Tourism Pub, but should choose the category that best matches their business and only enter in one.  Pop-up and mobile outlets can enter, though essential supporting facilities (eg toilets) will be taken into account in judging.  To enter this award your business must offer visitors an exceptional standard of service and an outstanding, memorable experience.

Restaurant/Bistro of the Year - This award is open to restaurants and bistros that provide great service and serve excellent food from local/regional suppliers.  Entrants must be committed to sourcing produce locally and communicating this to customers.  Entrants may consider this category, or the separate categories of ‘Pub’ and ‘Café/Tearoom’, but should choose the category that best matches their business and only enter in one.  To enter this award your business must offer visitors an exceptional standard of service and an outstanding, memorable experience.

Tourism Pub of the Year - This category is for pubs that offer great locally sourced food and drink to tourists and locals, in authentic surroundings.  They should also attract a significant number of customers from out of the local area.  Entrants may consider this category, or the separate categories of ‘Restaurant/Bistro’ and ‘Café/Tearoom’, but should choose the category that best matches their business and only enter in one.  To enter this award your business must offer visitors an exceptional standard of service and an outstanding, memorable experience.