Top Small Fleet Operator
The winners of these awards deliver consistently excellent customer service. The operators demonstrate their success through sustained effort.
They show that they:
- are financially sound
- maintain high operational and engineering standards
- give priority to the Health and Safety of staff and passengers through comprehensive risk management
- invest in their fleet and staff
- form effective partnerships
- identify with and respond to the communities they serve
- always strive to sustain and grow the market for coaches and coach services.
As well as this award for the smaller operators, there are two others for businesses with fleets of between 21 and 100 and over 101 vehicles.
From the winners of these three awards, the judges chose an overall winner, named UK Coach Operator of the Year.
For each of the categories, customer nominations were sought from group organisers and other industry clients. Nominated operators are also invited to submit further information to the judges. The judging process also includes 'mystery shopping' of the nominated operators to test their commitment to customer service.
Winner, Gold Award: Anthony's Travel
Anthony's Travel is a family owned and run coach company established in 1985 in Runcorn, Cheshire. It has a personal approach to its employees and everyone works together well as a team. The company makes use of external consultants for specialist training for all staff. This has been particularly effective in the engineering team which has achieved a 100% PSV Annual Test rate. The same individual and friendly approach is taken with its customers and the company really gets involved in its local community. Extensive and innovate marketing has made the company the 'go to' coach operator in its area.
The judges commented that Anthony's Travel is a good example of a business with a very clear focus on delivering high quality services in its local area. It is making the most of promoting its family credentials and integrating itself into the local community.
Winner, Silver Award: Woods Travel
Woods Travel is based in Bognor Regis, West Sussex, and has been successfully running day trips and holidays for the past 45 years. Alongside the private hire and tour work, the company also operates and ABTA bonded travel agency which allows it to offer a wide range of holidays throughout the world as well as its own products. Woods enjoys a high level of repeat business and has a loyal following, whilst still attracting new customers. Although recognising that most of its customers still prefer to receive information about the company's tours and holidays in print, Woods is making use of social media with daily updates and has recently begun a travel blog.
The judges were pleased to see that Woods is now embracing social media whilst maintaining its print presence. It has been able to increase its customer base and expand the range of day trips with the appointment of someone to develop this part of the business further. Woods is worthy Silver Winner.
Winner, Bronze Award: Carol Peters Travel
Family run Carol Peters Travel is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. It operates 12 vehicles of differing sizes from its base near Margate in Kent. Personal contact with customers is very important and the company operates a loyalty scheme and keeps in touch with customers throughout the year. A brochure listing all tours and trips is published twice a year, but operating in a very competitive area, Carol Peters is doing more business online having added an online booking facility last year. Social media is used to drive traffic to the website as well as creating a dialogue with existing and potential customers. The vehicle fleet is also kept up to date, and last year the company invested in three brand new tri-axle vehicles. A booking office an shop was opened in Westgate last year, and a second shop will open in Deal this year.
The judges were impressed with several aspects of this successful business including the use of online tools, the opening of two shops and investment in new vehicles, all of which makes Carol Peters Travel a worthy Bronze Winner.
Who could be nominated?
The awards were open to all operators of coaches for hire to the general public or used on tours and excursions.
... and by whom?
Group organisers and other clients who hire coaches on an occasional or regular basis were asked to nominate the coach company which has delivered the best service to their groups. Self-nomination was also acceptable.