Coach Travel Programme
This category recognises the use of innovative and original ideas in development and implementation of programmes of coach tours and/or excursions. The judges look for programmes that are well-researched, and developed in partnership with quality suppliers and attractions.
Winner, Gold Award: AW Eastons Coaches
As a small family run business, Norwich based AW Eastons Coaches prides itself on offering its customers a caring and individual service, something which it applies to the wide range of day trips, themed breaks, special interest tours and holidays if offers. Drivers complete a detailed report on each tour which is combined with information from customer feedback forms to give a good picture of each trip and what can be improved. The constant cycle of improvement and adding new products has seen steady year on year growth and a record 199 tours made last year.
The judges thought that this was a fine example of a traditional coach company that has embraced change and is showing steady growth with realistic plans for the future. AW Eastons shows that you don't have to be a big operator to offer a great travel programme.
Winner, Silver Award: Edwards Coaches
Pontypridd based Edwards Coaches has grown to become a large coach operator with 225 vehicles and so is able to offer a very wide range of tours and holidays listed in the two brochures and four supplements it produces each year. The company believes in building strong relationships with its suppliers enabling it to get preferential rates and benefits for its customers. All hotels used are inspected annually by Edwards' staff and the company sends mystery travellers on its holidays to get feedback on its suppliers as well as the vehicle and driver performance.
Whilst noting the many new UK tours demonstrating the company's ability to adapt to a changing market, the judges noted that Edwards offers a particularly strong overseas programme. Edwards shows a good understanding of its market which has enabled it to grow and prosper.
Winner, Bronze Award: Shearings Holidays
Shearings Holidays undertakes extensive market research to guide it in choosing new destinations and tours. Last year it expanded its range of tours to UK and European festivals and events to more than 50 different holidays, ranging from Airbourne in Eastbourne to the Lemon Festival in Menton in the south of France. Shearings' pioneering and ever-popular Grand Tourer programme was enhanced last year with some behind the scenes experiences available only to Shearings.
The judges commented that Shearings offered a very professional tour programme, as might be expected from such a large operator, but also noted that the choice of themes and itineraries was backed up with extensive customer research and careful targeting.
Finalist: Epsom Coaches
Great Britain by Coach, Air and Sea
'Great Britain by Coach, Air and Sea' is the title of Surrey based Epsom Coaches' brochure which features 109 different holidays to destinations in the UK and Europe, 24 of which are brand new for this year. The innovative Farewell Lunch which gives customers a substantial lunch on their return journey so that they don't need to cook when they get home, has been extended to more tours. The proportion of online bookings is 25% and rising.
Finalist: Gardiners NMC
2016 Travel Programme
From its base in Morpeth, Northumberland, Gardiners NMC predominantly offers only one departure of each tour per year ensuring that there is plenty of variety on offer in its brochure. Published twice a year, the first 2016 brochure featured 40 new tours, keeping the product fresh and changing. Under the tagline 'Experience the difference', Gardiners is offering free onboard wifi on UK holidays for the first time this year and will be adding at seat power sockets and seat-back entertainment systems in 2017, reflecting the changing demographic and customer demand for this technology. Also new for this year are Welcome Goodie Bags containing items to freshen up as well as a puzzle book and pen.
Finalist: Johnsons Coach & Bus Travel
The ethos of family run Johnsons Coach Travel is shown through a message from the Johnson family in the front of every brochure under the 'Travel with Johnsons, Travel with Friends' company motto. Last summer's brochure featured 226 itineraries, of which 45 were new, and was released first to Johnsons' Loyalty Club members which produced an amazing £385,000 of sales in just one day! Tours based on anniversaries and special events were a popular feature and the decision to give holidays a Luxury Traveller, Relaxed Traveller or Single Traveller increased bookings, making it easier for customers to select appropriate holidays.
Finalist: Woods Travel
UK & Continental Coach & Air Holidays
Bognor Regis based Woods Travel features over 170 tours in its 2016 UK & Continental Coach & Air Holidays brochure, 44 of which are new for this year. The family-run business has added two 'gentle walking tours' to it programme this year for the first time, both of which have filled very quickly. The company likes to keep close to its customers and respond quickly to their changing needs - and with a steady increase in passenger numbers year-on-year for the past ten years, it looks like this has been a formula for success.
Who could be nominated?
The award was open to operators of coach tour and excursion programmes on sale to the general public.
… and by whom?
Nominations were accepted from all eligible organisations, and self-nomination was acceptable.
Criteria and Entry Requirements
Decisions were based on the quality of the submissions made, and the extent to which they addressed the criteria.
Entry submissions needed to:
- Describe the programme involved.
- State whether a partnership was involved. This could include local and tourist authorities, and/or providers of services (e.g. meals, hotels, admission tickets, ferry services)
- Describe the objectives set for the initiative.
- Describe how:
- needs and potential needs were assessed, including details of market evaluation and customer research
- potential customers were informed of the improved or new product(s)
- interest in, or desire for, the product(s) was assessed
- the research and original thinking involved.
- Supply evidence of the success of the programme (for example in terms of patronage, revenue or other appropriate indicators such as seat occupancy)
- Describe any future plans for further development.
- Include any relevant supporting material.