Month: June 2017

British Coach Tourism Awards 2018 – a look at the award categories. What’s new and what’s gone


If you’re considering entering the British Coach Tourism Awards 2018, here’s our look at what’s new, what’s different – and what’s gone

The good news:

  • Awards now embrace more suppliers
  • New awards for group dining experience and West End shows
  • Awards for accommodation, and for sea, canal and river operators separated out to reflect the differences between larger and smaller suppliers
  • More time to enter.

The not so good news:

  • ‘Coach Tour Operator Brochure’ award discontinued
  • Number of coach tour operator-specific awards drops to just six
  • Tour wholesalers lose their bespoke category.

The news in detail:

Details of the British Coach Tourism Awards 2018 (BCTA) have been announced. The total number of awards increases from 18 to 20, the highest number of individual awards in the event’s 13-year history. However, the award for ‘Coach Tour Operator Brochure’ award has been discontinued, reducing the number of coach tour operator-specific awards to six.

There are two new awards. ‘Dining Experience’, open to restaurants, cafés and other meal stops and dining options that cater for groups, and ‘Theatre Production’. Readers of Group Tourism & Travel magazine are being asked to nominate their favourite West End stage show of 2017. The shortlist will then be voted on by readers.

The award for ‘Accommodation Provider’, which last year saw major hotel groups compete with small independent hotels, has been split with separate awards for hotel groups and independent hotels.

The combined award for ‘Sea, Canal and Inland Riverboat Carriers’, introduced in 2017, has also been split with separate awards for ‘Cross-Sea Carrier’ and ‘River and Inland Cruise Operator’.

The long established ‘Tour Wholesaler’ award has changed to become ‘Tour Wholesaler and Industry Supplier’. This allows entries from ticket suppliers, whose dedicated category was abolished last year. It’s also a positive move as it embraces many other suppliers, notably those from the insurance, legal, printing and hospitality sectors who, until now, haven’t had a suitable category to enter.

The ‘Accessibility Award’, introduced in 2017 has been discontinued.

The judges for the 2018 awards have also been announced. They are:

  • Jess Chapman (Chair of Judges), Editor of Group Tourism & Travel magazine
  • Antony Amos, Head of Business Development and Membership with UKinbound
  • Chris Wales, Chief Executive, Coach Tourism Association
  • Mark King, Chairman of the British Guild of Tourist Guides
  • Steve Whiteway, former MD of Epsom Coaches.

The closing date for entries is 17 November 2017. The gala dinner and presentation evening will take place on the first night of the British Tourism & Travel Show on 21 March at the National Motorcycle Museum near the NEC.

For more information, go to www.britishcoachawards.co.uk



In announcing the details of the British Coach Tourism Awards 2018, organiser Diversified Communications UK has demonstrated that it has listened to some of the concerns raised by industry suppliers after the 2017 awards.

Splitting the ‘Accommodation Provider’ award into two, and restoring the pre-2017 differentiation between hotel groups and independent hotels will be welcomed by both sectors.

There’s a similar situation in the sea, canal and river sector. The pre-2017 categories have been reinstated, meaning that smaller operators of sightseeing and cruise boats no longer have to compete with the major cross-sea operators.

Among the other award categories, the long-established award for ‘Tour Wholesaler’ has gone. In recent years there was a tendency for the winner to always come from one of the big three: Albatross Travel, Greatdays Travel Group and Norman Allen Group Travel. But it was a friendly (ish) rivalry and there will be some who will miss the annual skirmish.

These same tour wholesalers will, should they choose to enter for the 2018 awards, find themselves battling against other industry suppliers for the new award for ‘Tour Wholesaler and Industry Supplier’. Those ‘industry suppliers’ will include ticket suppliers, whose specific award category was abolished last year. The good news is that other industry suppliers, including those providing insurance, legal, operational and print services, will be able to enter for the first time.

However, the biggest surprise of these 2018 awards is the disappearance of the popular and long-established ‘Coach Tour Operator Brochure’ award. In recent years, the category has regularly generated the most entries of any single award. It’s not hard to see why. Every coach tour operator thinks their brochure is the best, although the generally high quality of coach tour brochures today makes it almost impossible for the judges to choose a winner.

However, the importance of the category wasn’t so much about the brochures themselves, but about the way the category gave coach tour operators a relatively quick and easy way to get involved. A look through the shortlist from recent years shows a real mix of names, some well known, some not so. With the category gone, so the opportunity for operators to take part has been reduced. What this also means is that the total number of coach tour operator-specific awards drops to just six out of a total of 20.

There are already several well-established awards schemes for the wider groups sector and the supplier side. The BCTA is the only awards scheme that gives coach tour operators a specific outlet for their achievements. Coach tour operators play an important and vital role in this industry. For 2019 it would be good to see that role being recognised further.

Having said all that, if you’re involved in coach tourism, these ARE the awards that matter. Check out the website to see which awards you can enter for. Good luck.



Here’s the full list of award categories for the British Coach Tourism Awards 2018 (in alphabetical order):

  • Accommodation Provider – Hotel Groups
  • Accommodation Provider – Independent Hotels
  • British Coach Tourism Recognition Award
  • Coach Friendly Destination of the Year
  • Coach Friendly Visitor Attraction of the Year
  • Coach Tour Driver of the Year
  • Coach Tour Operator of the Year – small fleet
  • Coach Tour Operator of the Year – medium fleet
  • Coach Tour Operator of the Year – large fleet
  • Coach Tourism Innovation
  • Coach Tourism Professional of the Year
  • Cross-Sea Carrier
  • Day Excursion Programme
  • Dining Experience
  • European Coach Friendly Attraction of the Year
  • Heritage Railway
  • Holiday Programme
  • River and Inland Cruise Operator
  • Theatre Production
  • Tour Wholesaler and Industry Supplier




New partnerships aims to encourage more groups to visit Leicester and Leicestershire

Leicestershire Promotions, the tourist board for Leicestershire, has partnered with Greatdays Travel Group to encourage more groups to visit Leicester and Leicestershire.

Group travel tour operator Greatdays will work with Leicestershire Promotions to develop new group itineraries based on key local tourism offers. These include history and heritage with King Richard III, and traditional food and drink focusing on Melton Mowbray, the UK’s ‘Rural Capital of Food’.

These itineraries will be promoted through Greatdays’ networks of group travel organisers, coach tour operators and tour planners.

Greatdays will also develop special interest tours for associations and groups such as car clubs.

Martin Peters, Chief Executive, Leicestershire Promotions, and Katherine Worsley, UK Product Manager with Greatdays Travel Group

Paul Beaumont, Greatdays Travel Group executive director, says: “Leicestershire offers a wide choice of group-friendly visitor attractions and is already a popular destination for groups.

“This new partnership with Leicestershire Promotions will enable us to offer new itineraries for tours and day trips that will appeal to group travel organisers, coach tour operators and tour planners.”

Martin Peters, Leicestershire Promotions chief executive, says: “This partnership is a new way for a recognised group travel wholesaler to work directly with a destination to promote the particular highlights of their offer to the groups market.

“The worldwide interest in King Richard III, together with the county’s reputation for its food and drink, offer a unique combination that already appeals to tour planners. Working together with Greatdays will give us a new opportunity to raise the profile of the destination even further, encouraging more people to spend a few days discovering what we have to offer.”

The new partnership has been developed with support from coach tourism consultancy Stuart Render Tourism.


Group Travel Awards winners

Group Travel Awards

The Group Travel Awards 2017, organised by GTO magazine, were held in central London on Friday 2 June.

Here’s the list of winners and runners-up. For full details about the awards scheme, go to www.grouptravelawards.com

Best UK Destination for Groups

Winner: London
Runner Up: Isle of Wight

Best Event for Groups

Winner: The Thursford Christmas Spectacular
Runner Up: The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Bath Christmas Market
BBC Good Food Shows
RHS Hampton Court Flower Shows
Royal Ascot
The Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford

Best Canal or Riverboat Operator for Groups

Winner: City Cruises, London
Runner Up: French Brothers, Windsor
Dudley Canal Trust
Princess River Cruises, Nottingham
Sabrina Boat, Shrewsbury
Salter’s Steamers, Oxford
Thames Rivercruise, Reading
The River Cruise Line

Best Sea Crossing Operator for Groups

Winner: Eurotunnel
Runner Up: P&O Ferries
Irish Ferries
Stena Line
Wightlink, Isle of Wight Ferries

Best Ocean Cruise Line Operator for Groups

Winner: Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
Runner Up: P&O Cruises
Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV)
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)
Royal Caribbean
Thomson Cruises

Best Coach Operator for Groups
Large Fleet

Winner: Bakers Dolphin, Weston-super-Mare
Runner Up: Shearing Holidays, Wigan

Small Fleet

Winner: Platinum Express, Wolverhampton
Runner Up: Lucketts Travel, Fareham

Alfa Travel, Chorley
Crusader Holidays, Clacton-on-Sea
Daish’s Holidays, Torquay
David Ogden Holidays, St Helens
Dunwood Travel, Dudley
Edwards Coaches, Pontypridd
Epsom Coaches, Surrey
Johnsons Coach & Bus Travel, Henley-in-Arden
Kings Coaches, Colchester
Scotland & Bates, Ashford

Best Airline for Groups

Winner: Jet2.com
Runner Up: British Airways
Aer Lingus
Virgin Atlantic

Best Railway Operator for Groups

Winner: Virgin Trains
Runner Up: CrossCountry
South West Trains

Best Group Dining Experience

Winner: Planet Hollywood, London
Runner Up: Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
Bateaux London
Brick Lane Music Hall, London
Hard Rock Café, London
Rainforest Café, London
The Strand Palace, London

Best Company or Venue Offering Guided Tours

Winner: City & Village Tours
Runner Up: Groups Direct
Angels Costumes – The Tour, London
BBC Tours
Big Bus Tours, London
Emmerdale Village Tour
Jaguar Land Rover Factory Tours
The Houses of Parliament, London

Best Information Product for Groups (website or printed)

Winner: English Heritage Group Visits Guide 2016/17
Runner Up: www.greatdays.co.uk
The National Trust Groups Guide 2016

Best West End Production for Groups

Winner: The Lion King
Runner Up: Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Half a Sixpence
Jersey Boys
Kinky Boots
Les Misérables
Motown The Musical
The Phantom of the Opera

Best Best Group Ticketing Agency

Winner: Group Line
Runner Up: Encore
Delfont Mackintosh Theatres
Groups Direct
See Groups
The Ticket Factory

Most Group-Friendly Hotel Chain or Group

Winner: Daish’s Hotel Group
Runner Up: Warner Leisure Hotels
Abacus Hotels
Best Western Hotels & Resorts
De Vere Hotels
Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts
TLH Leisure Resort

Best Individual Hotel for Groups

Winner: St Kilda Hotel, Llandudno
Runner Up: Knights Hill Hotel & Spa, Kings Lynn (Best Western/Abacus Hotels)
Preston Sands Hotel, Paignton
Queens Hotel, Blackpool (Leisureplex)
The Rendezvous Hotel, Skipton
The Russel Hotel, Weymouth (Daish’s Hotel Group)
Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire (Warner Leisure Hotels)

Best Holiday Park for Groups

Winner: Mill Rythe Holiday Village, Hayling Island (Away Resorts)
Runner Up: Potters Resort, Norfolk
Butlins, Bognor Regis
Norton Grange, Isle of Wight (Warner Leisure Hotels)
Seacroft Holiday Village, Norfolk (Richardsons)

Best University Accommodation for Groups

Winner: University of Kent, Canterbury
Runner Up: York Conferences at The University of York
Cardiff University
Leeds University
St Aidan’s College at Durham University
University of Portsmouth

Best Group Tour Operator

Winner: IOW Tours, Isle of Wight
Runner Up: Airedale Tours, West Yorkshire
David Urquhart Travel, East Kilbride
Greatdays Travel Group, Cheshire
InterChoice Holidays, Wolverhampton
Just for Groups! Norwich
Success Tours, Wiltshire
Tailored Travel, London

Best European Attraction for Groups

Winner: Disneyland Paris, France
Runner Up: Titanic Belfast, Northern Ireland
Eiffel Tower, France
Guinness Storehouse, Ireland
Ice Cave Langjökull, Iceland
Keukenhof Gardens, Holland
The Claude Monet Foundation, France

Best European Destination for Groups

Winner: Ireland
Runner Up: Belgium

Best Animal or Sea Life Attraction for Groups

Winner: West Midland Safari & Leisure Park, Worcestershire
Runner Up: ZSL London Zoo
Chester Zoo, Cheshire
Howletts Wild Animal Park, Kent
Longleat Safari & Adventure Park, Wiltshire
SEA LIFE London Aquarium
The National SEA LIFE Centre, Birmingham

Best Historical House and/or Garden for Groups

Winner: Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
Runner Up: Hampton Court Palace, Richmond upon Thames
Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
Buckingham Palace, London
Castle Howard, North Yorkshire
Eltham Palace, London
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
The Savill Garden, Windsor
Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire

Best Family Day Out

Winner: Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter
Runner Up: Drayton Manor Theme Park, Staffordshire
Cadbury World, Birmingham
Chessington World of Adventures Resort, Surrey
Legoland Windsor Resort
Longleat’s Festival of Light, Wiltshire
The London Bridge Experience

Best Attraction for Group Visits

Winner: Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes
Runner Up: Coca-Cola London Eye
Beamish Open Air Museum, County Durham
Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Hampshire
Buckingham Palace, London
Eden Project, Cornwall
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! London
The View from The Shard, London

Outstanding Contribution to Group Travel by an Individual

Geoff Holt

The Little Treasures of Britain Award

The Peto Garden, Iford Manor, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire

The Development of Incoming Group Visitors to the UK

Clovelly, Devon

The Editor’s Award for Innovation in Tourism

Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage

The Editor’s Award for Technological Innovation

St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury

New name and new editor for Group Leisure magazine

Group Leisure magazine has changed its name to Group Leisure & Travel magazine and appointed Keeley Rodgers as its new editor.

Commenting on the change of name, Rob Yandell, of publisher Yandell Publishing says: “We feel that this small change to our name better reflects who we are and what we offer our readers and advertisers today. The change will also signal a fresh design, new ideas and original features.

“Remarkably, it has been ten years since our last major change to Group Leisure. We are very excited by our new look and updated magazine title which has been carefully planned over several months. I hope you like the changes which we think will make finding great ideas even easier, as well as delivering an even more enjoyable magazine to read.”

Group Leisure
A change of name for Group Leisure magazine, but only slightly

The change in name brings the magazine title in line with its October trade show – the Group Leisure & Travel Show. It also means a change to another event in the coach and group tourism calendar. The Group Leisure Awards, which becomes the Group Leisure & Travel Awards.

This year the awards take place on 11 October, on the eve of the show that takes place on 12 October.

Keeley Rodgers joins the magazine from the Oxford Mail and Oxford Times newspapers where she was assistant editor.

Group Leisure
Keeley Rodgers joins Group Leisure & Travel magazine from the Oxford Mail and Oxford Times newspapers where she was assistant editor

Commenting on her appointment, she says: “I’m delighted to be joining Yandell Media and look forward to building on the success of its well-established publications. The last few years in Oxford have been an incredible adventure but the lure of making a difference in the growing field of travel magazines and websites was just too compelling.

“I have heard great things about the team, the products and of course the many readers and customers, and can’t wait to be a part of it. With a passion for travel I will be bringing my enthusiasm and experience in journalism to the role and I’m very excited about the times ahead.”

Rob Yandell says: “We’re really looking forward to her joining the team and bringing her wealth of experience and new ideas to the magazine. I am confident we have found an editor who can not only retain our status as the leading magazine in its field, but further improve it for the benefit of both readers and advertisers.”

Keeley joins the title on 5 June and takes up the reins from Sarah Holt who left the publication in March.

For more information, go to www.groupleisureandtravel.com