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The Categories:

Coach Friendly Destination NEC

Partnered by: NEC
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This award was open for entries from villages, towns, cities, regions (geographic or tourist), islands and countries that could demonstrate not only a commitment to welcoming coaches, coach groups and coach drivers, but also what they’ve done to enhance that welcome over the last year. In addition to on-the-ground delivery, judges were interested in examples of website development and partnership working.

Winner:
Beverley

This year’s winner has gone to another excellent effort, both in welcoming coaches to its exciting, group-friendly destination, and in showcasing that welcome to the judges. It has demonstrably improved its offer, including extending its ‘coach welcome’ to seven days a week by partnering with a local attraction. While unmissable benefits for drivers and passengers are available to pre-booked coaches, it’s clear that the friendly, personal little team will do everything they can to also welcome coaches that turn up with no notice.

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Shortlist:
  • Beverley
  • Bournemouth
  • Burnham-on-Sea
  • Devon
  • Guildford
  • Otley
  • Wells

Coach Friendly Attraction Shearings

Partnered by: Shearings
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This award was open for entries from UK visitor attractions, shopping centres, dedicated out-of-town shopping retailers, garden centres and other attractions that could demonstrate not only their commitment to welcoming coaches, coach groups and coach drivers, but also how that welcome had been developed/enhanced over the last year.

Winner:
National Memorial Arboretum

Highly Commended: Belleek Pottery

The judges were very impressed with this attraction, also a charity, which is clearly heading for an important year in 2018 – the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. It is a newer attraction that has already firmly established itself as a popular group choice of national importance. It has shown a continual emphasis on and dedication to coach tourism, with a number of special events geared towards groups, and excellent facilities in place for coaches and drivers.

Visit Winners Website
Shortlist:
  • Alton Towers
  • Belleek Pottery *Highly Commended*
  • Dyffryn Gardens (National Trust)
  • Longleat
  • National Memorial Arboretum
  • RHS Wisley, Hyde Hall, Rosemoor & Harlow Carr
  • Scampston Hall & Walled Garden
  • Scone Palace
  • The World of James Herriot
  • Woburn Abbey & Gardens

European Coach Friendly Attraction DFDS

Partnered by: DFDS
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This award was open for entries from coach friendly visitor attractions in Europe. This includes visitor attractions, shopping centres, dedicated out-of-town shopping retailers, garden centres and other attractions that could demonstrate not only their commitment to welcoming coaches, coach groups and coach drivers from the UK, but also how that welcome has been developed/enhanced over the last year.

Winner:
Lovers Canal Cruises

The judges were impressed by the way this Amsterdam attraction markets itself to groups as the ideal way to see the congested city – including the all-important Anne Frank’s House. A large number of group experiences are available, combining a relaxing cruise with meals or other attractions.

Visit Winners Website
Shortlist:
  • Cambrai Tank Museum
  • Disneyland Paris
  • Jersey Zoo
  • Keukenhof
  • Lovers Canal Cruises

Cross-Sea Carrier

Partnered by: Edwards Coach Holidays
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This award was open for entries from carriers that provide cross-sea services between the UK and the continent, and short-sea UK crossings. Judges will be looking for evidence of excellent day-to-day customer service (testimonials and operator feedback), plus evidence of how carriers have developed/enhanced the service offered to coach tour operators over the last year.

Winner:
Condor Ferries

Our winner in this category has demonstrably improved its offer to coach and group tour operators over the last year, with new dedicated services for groups – and that’s a product of having a dedicated groups team who are always active in the trade. Its many pulls for operators include not only free meals for drivers, but complimentary day trips for them too.

Visit Winners Website
Shortlist:
  • Condor Ferries
  • Eurotunnel le Shuttle
  • Irish Ferries
  • P&O Ferries

River and Inland Cruise Operator Eastons Holidays

Partnered by: Eastons Holidays
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This award was open to tourism suppliers that operate river, canal, lake and other inland cruises, whether it’s a 30-minute trip or a river cruise of several days. Judges were looking for entrants that can demonstrate a commitment to welcoming coaches, coach groups and coach drivers, together with evidence of how that product has been developed/enhanced over the last year.

Winner:
Broads Tours

Seeing our winner’s entry in this category made all the judges want to take a trip on one of its vessels. The company has built coach trips into its business plan, and it has a flexible approach to coach bookings, including at short notice. It has continually improved the comfort and accessibility of its vessels, and demonstrates that a high proportion of its valued customers are from coaches.

Visit Winners Website
Shortlist:
  • Broads Tours
  • MBNA Thames Clippers
  • Sabrina Boat
  • Stuart Line Cruises
  • Trent River Cruises Ltd
  • Ullswater Steamers

Heritage Railway BTTS

Partnered by: British Tourism & Travel Show
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This award was open for entries from operators of heritage railways (standard and narrow gauge). The judges were looking for railway operators that could demonstrate a clear welcome and commitment to coaches, coach groups, and coach drivers, together with evidence of how that product has been developed/enhanced over the last year.

Winner:
West Somerset Railway

The judges were very taken by the winner’s special effort for coaches, from the personal service from the commercial team, to the party menu at the group’s reserved seats. In particular, special arrangements for groups during events were taken into account.

Visit Winners Website
Shortlist:
  • Gwili Railway
  • Kirklees Light Railway
  • Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway
  • Vale of Rheidol Railway
  • West Somerset Railway

Accommodation Provider (independent hotels) https://www.wmsp.co.uk/

Partnered by: West Midland Safari Park
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This award was open to entries from individual hotels – including those that belong to a larger group, but wish to enter independently – and small chains (up to five hotels). The judges were looking for hotels that could demonstrate not only a commitment to welcoming coaches, coach groups and coach drivers, but also how they have developed/enhanced that welcome over the last year.

Winner:
Rendezvous Hotel, Skipton

Highly Commended: Marine Hotel, Paignton

This hotel stood out thanks to its dedication not only to coach tourism customers, but to its own homegrown campaign to promote the region it’s in. This campaign involves promoting the attractions and destinations in the area, which means that its coach tour clients can get the very best of the local experience while staying at the hotel. What particularly stood out is that in adopting a new strapline, the hotel has taken into account how coach tour operators can promote it to their own clients.

Visit Winners Website
Shortlist:
  • Away Resorts - Mill Rythe
  • Hallmark Hotel Preston Leyland
  • Marine Hotel, Paignton *Highly Commended*
  • The Metropole Hotel & Spa
  • Rendezvous Hotel, Skipton

Accommodation Provider (hotel groups) Bakers Dolphin

Partnered by: Bakers Dolphin
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This award was open to entries from hotel groups (six hotels and over). The judges were looking for hotel brands that could demonstrate not only a commitment to welcoming coaches, coach groups and coach drivers, but also how they have developed/enhanced that welcome over the last year.

Winner:
Hilton Worldwide

This hotel stood out thanks to its dedication not only to coach tourism customers, but to its own homegrown campaign to promote the region it’s in. This campaign involves promoting the attractions and destinations in the area, which means that its coach tour clients can get the very best of the local
experience while staying at the hotel. What particularly stood out is that in adopting a new strapline, the hotel has taken into account how coach tour operators can promote it to their own clients.

Visit Winners Website
Shortlist:
  • Best Western Hotels
  • Hallmark Hotels
  • Hilton Worldwide
  • Marriott Hotels UK

Tour Wholesaler and Industry Supplier

Partnered by: The View from The Shard & Planet Hollywood

This award was open to tour wholesalers, ticketing agencies and other business-to-business suppliers that provide packages and group planning services to coach tour operators. The judges were looking for a business that can demonstrate an understanding of the needs of tour planners, with examples of how its products or those relationships have been developed or enhanced over the last year.

Winner:
ICT Group Travel

Highly Commended: Norman Allen Group Travel

The judges were very impressed by this winner’s “amazing” business improvements over the last year. From being a small and fairly run-of-the-mill wholesaler, this business has grown into an innovative, dedicated player in this crucial sector, offering imaginative tour ideas to attract different kinds of people to coach tourism, and lift the industry as a whole. The great breadth of its products on offer is matched by a friendly and committed team.

Visit Winners Website
Shortlist:
  • Action Tours
  • Advantage Now
  • Encore
  • Greatdays Travel Group
  • Groups Direct
  • Hospitality Line
  • ICT Group Travel
  • Norman Allen Group Travel *Highly Commended*

Dining Experience (NEW) AGTO

Partnered by: AGTO
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This award was open to restaurants, cafés and other suppliers satisfying the catering needs of the masses, whether they offer a group dining experience by land, sea or sky. The judges were looking for exciting dining experiences for groups, including a warm welcome, exquisite finishing touches, high-quality venue and atmosphere, excellent menu choices, well-presented meals, and a willingness to work with the group organiser to accommodate the group’s needs.

Winner:
Bateaux London

Highly Commended: Planet Hollywood

This new category for 2018 recognises the many fantastic, exciting dining options for groups now available, and none of the entrants demonstrated better than our winner that nowadays, coach tour customers can expect a bit of class. Whether it’s an afternoon tea or a five-course dinner, cruising on the water of one of the world’s great cities, on a vessel built for fine views, with fine food freshly prepared onboard, live music and guided commentary makes our winner a very special option for groups.

Visit Winners Website
Shortlist:
  • Bateaux London
  • Newmarket Racecourses
  • Planet Hollywood *Highly Commended*
  • Poplars Garden Centre
  • Waxy O'Connors

Theatre Production - readers choice award (NEW)

Partnered by: Group Tourism & Travel Magazine
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This was our first people’s choice award, as voted by readers of Group Tourism & Travel Magazine.

Winner:
42nd Street

It was a close-run thing at times, but in the end this stunning musical was the run-away winner of our new award. Here’s what Group Tourism & Travel readers said about it:
“A clear favourite”
“Our clients’ favourite show”
“I have a waiting list for it”
“An excellent production with that uplifting nature about it”
“Without a doubt the best show in the West End, fabulous”
“Our group loved it”

Visit Winners Website
Shortlist:
  • 42nd Street
  • Aladdin
  • An American in Paris
  • Kinky Boots
  • Kynren
  • Matilda
  • School of Rock
  • Wicked

Holiday Programme Distinctive Systems

Partnered by: Distinctive Systems
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This award was open for entries from any UK-based tour operator that operates a programme of coach holidays. Judges were looking for a programme that demonstrates innovation and creativity, in a brochure that is easy to navigate with clear price points and an easy-to-understand summary of what the tour and price includes. With so many brochures now meeting this criteria, the judges will be looking for something that makes the winning programme stand out from the crowd.

Winner:
Gardiners NMC

Highly Commended: Lucketts travel

Our winner in this category has demonstrated that it has effectively linked the north and south of England in its holiday programme, following its acquisition of Epsom Coaches’ holiday programme earlier this year. Its clear, attractive brochure entices customers on a range of exciting holidays, from the traditional to the slightly more unusual, presented in imaginative ways to make them as attractive as possible.

Visit Winners Website
Shortlist:
  • Bakers Dolphin
  • Eastons Holidays
  • Gardiners NMC
  • Kirbys Coaches
  • Lucketts Travel *Highly Commended*
  • Roberts Travel Group
  • Shaws of Maxey
  • Woods Travel Ltd

Day Excursion Programme

Partnered by: Warner Leisure Hotels
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This award was open for entries from any UK-based tour operator that operates a programme of day excursions by coach. The judges were looking for a programme that demonstrates innovation and creativity. With the quality and content of programmes universally high, the judges will be looking for that ‘special something’ that makes it stand out.

Winner:
Shaws of Maxey

One operator stood out in this category as a clear winner. With imaginative ideas for day trips, and a professional, high-quality look to the brochure, it was clear to the judges that this winner takes pride in its excursion programme as a major part of its business. It also demonstrated that it knows who its
customers are, and what they want, and works hard to provide loyal customers with new ideas.

Visit Winners Website
Shortlist:
  • Bakers Dolphin
  • Eastons Holidays
  • Gardiners NMC
  • Shaws of Maxey
  • Woods Travel Ltd

Coach Tourism Innovation of the Year

Partnered by: Eurotunel Le Shuttle
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This award recognises innovation from any part of the coach tourism industry. The judges were looking for innovation introduced in 2017 and that had a direct link, and benefit, to coach tourism; a product or service, a back-office or front-of-house process, a marketing or PR initiative.

Winner:
Travel by Knight – Mini sleeper coach

Our winner in this category stood out among the competition – it’s a truly innovative idea, still yet to be proven, but the operator of the business has taken a great chance that could make a difference to the industry. Will UK minicoaches eventually be able to take sleeping passengers all the way to Beijing? The judges don’t know, but we applaud such enterprising spirit.

Visit Winners Website
Shortlist:
  • Groups Direct Ltd - The Matinee Shows
  • Harry Shaw City Cruiser Holidays Ltd - Social media
  • Rendezvous Hotel - The Real Yorkshire Experience campaign
  • Skills Group - Holiday brands
  • Spot Travel Services - Business change
  • Travel by Knight - Mini sleeper coach

Coach Tourism Professional of the Year Longleat

Partnered by: Longleat
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This is the first of the two ‘people’ awards that required a nomination. Nominations were invited for individuals, couples or teams (working in any role in the coach tourism industry) who have demonstrated exceptional service and commitment to coach tourism over the last year. The judges required clear evidence of the reasons for the nominations, and based their decisions on the quality of third-party testimonials (from employers, customers and colleagues).

Winner:
Adrian Smith, Melanie Cox, Alistair Scott – Gardiners NMC

Judges were impressed with the team of true professionals who have successfully wedded the much-loved Epsom Coaches holiday programme to a coach operator based 300 miles away. Being a professional means that in a crisis, you have to sort it out – and they sorted it quickly and kept momentum going, showing great diplomacy, strength and innovation.

Visit Winners Website
Shortlist:
  • Suzanne Evans - Boons Calibre Travel
  • Team Devon - Devon4Groups
  • Martin Slater - GreatDays Travel Group
  • Joseph Rawlings - Groups Direct Ltd
  • Adrian Smith, Melanie Cox, Alistair Scott - Gardiners NMC
  • John Jacobs - Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway

Coach Tour Driver of the Year Roadchef

Partnered by: Roadchef
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This is the second ‘people’ award that required nomination. Nominations were invited for coach tour drivers, or team of drivers, primarily employed on coach tour duties during the last year. The judges were looking for third party testimonials (from passengers, employers, clients) that evidenced a commitment to delivering excellent customer service.

Winner:
Michael Blowers – Bakers Dolphin

Highly Commended: Miriam Unsworth (Self-employed)

Our winner in this category is not one to blow his own trumpet, but when presented with a bugle on a trip to the battlefields of France, he has been known to play a very moving tribute for his customers. Celebrating his 10th year at the company, this driver has shown time and again that he is willing to go the extra mile, and is the embodiment of everything a coach tour driver should be –friendly, knowledgeable, professional, and requested often by repeat
customers.

Visit Winners Website
Shortlist:
  • Michael Blowers - Bakers Dolphin
  • Team Eastons 2017 - Eastons Holidays
  • Jones Holiday Drivers - Alpine Travel
  • Henry McCarrison - Glenton Holidays
  • Shaun Raven - Alfa Travel
  • Miriam Unsworth - self employed *Highly Commended*

Coach Tour Operator - Small Fleet (1-5 coaches)

Partnered by: Condor Ferries
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The judges were looking for a coach tour operator with between one and five tour coaches that could demonstrate a commitment to quality, innovation and training, and has an excellent industry reputation. The judges were also looking for examples of how an operator has developed/enhanced its product over the last year.

Winner:
Hough’s of Lincolnshire

This small family-run business is by no means the longest-established of operators, but nevertheless demonstrates the professional, personal values of all the greatest coach tour companies. With a wealth of customer testimonials and thank-you cards, it shows itself to be exactly the kind of business that
is at the heart of coach tourism, with a good programme of happy holidays for its loyal customer base – and it has demonstrably grown in the last year.

Visit Winners Website
Shortlist:
  • Acklams Coaches Ltd
  • Dunwood Travel
  • Hough's of Lincolnshire
  • IOW Tours

Coach Tour Operator - Medium Fleet (6-15 coaches) P&O

Partnered by: P & O Ferries
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The judges were not only be looking for a coach tour operator with between six and 15 tour coaches that could demonstrate a commitment to quality, innovation and training, and with an excellent industry reputation, but also examples of how it has developed/enhanced its product over the last year.

Winner:
Bayliss Executive Travel

With a high standard of presentation, smart modern branding and an attractive livery, our winner in this category clearly shows the benefits of moving with the times and staying upmarket and up-to-date. Our judges were reminded of luxury car operators as they studied the firm’s beautiful coaches and
professional brochure, and the operator has demonstrated good growth in the last year, as well as happy customers.

Visit Winners Website
Shortlist:
  • Bayliss Executive Travel
  • Bluebird Coaches (Weymouth) Ltd
  • Caradoc Coaches
  • Eastons Holidays
  • Roberts Travel Group
  • Woods Travel Group

Coach Tour Operator - Large Fleet (more than 15 coaches)

Partnered by: Wrightsure
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The judges were not only be looking for a coach tour operator with more than 15 tour coaches that could demonstrate a commitment to quality, innovation and training, with an excellent industry reputation, but also examples of how it developed/enhanced its product over the last year.

Winner:
Bakers Dolphin

Our winner in this category is one of the oldest coach operators in the country, but its presentation demonstrated how modern and up-and-coming it is – including a clear investment in both new vehicles and new technology. The judges were particularly impressed by its dedication to safety, its personal service, and its professional marketing. The judges also appreciated that it’s a holiday business that goes above and beyond the coach industry standard, which helps to raise the profile of the industry as a whole.

Visit Winners Website
Shortlist:
  • Bakers Dolphin
  • Edwards Coaches Ltd
  • Glenton Holidays
  • Lucketts Travel
  • Shearings Holidays

The British Coach Tourism Recognition Award

Partnered by: Hilton Worldwide
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This award was presented in recognition of outstanding services to coach tourism.

Winner:
Brian Way, Wayahead Travel (posthumous)

The judges present this award posthumously to a true gentleman of our industry. Brian would be seen at almost all travel trade events, and would always be welcome as his tour operation had carved out a successful local market on the south coast. Although his heart was in aviation, he embraced the coach holiday industry, which is where he made his reputation. He was a great supporter of our business and was proud to be appointed a Director of the Coach Tourism Association, where he made a significant contribution. As a great socialiser, his popularity equalled his professionalism. It would be very hard to
find anyone in our industry who would not be proud to say that they have been his business colleague and, more importantly, a personal friend. His health challenges never stopped him from participating in the industry he loved.

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