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