Innovation is the lifeblood of any business, and the coach industry is no exception - adapting to ever changing technologies and ever-evolving customer expectations require us to reinvent and develop our products constantly. This award is designed to recognise and reward original thinking and successful implementation of ideas.
A successful nomination for this Award needs to demonstrate development of an original or novel idea that achieves one or more of the following:
- improves the image of the coach
- stimulates interest in, or desire for, coaching products
- improves the efficiency of the industry
This Award will be made for an innovation which, in the opinion of the judges, most contributes to the improvement of coach travel. Evidence of quantification of the benefits achieved is essential.
Winner, Gold Award: Stagecoach East Scotland and ADL
Low entry coaches
Stagecoach East Scotland has invested £5.2m in 19 innovative new coaches to operate on parts of the Express City Connect network. The first of their kind, these coaches are unique in that almost half the vehicle's seating is on a low level, allowing easier access for wheelchair users and those with mobility issues. The vehicles include all the high quality features typical of the Stagecoach Express City Connect network, including leather reclining seats, free wifi access and charging points. The coaches were designed by ADL Plaxton in consultation with Bus Users Scotland and disability groups, creating an innovative design.
In what the judges believe to be the first commercial operation of a fleet of low floor coaches in the UK, they were pleased to see a scheme that extends inclusivity and brings coach travel to a whole raft of people that have previously found entry to high level coaches very difficult. For this UK innovation, the judges thought this was a worthy gold winner which will hopefully bring new business to the company.
Winner, Silver Award: Belle Vue Manchester
It is sometimes said that the passenger transport industry is all about vehicles. It's not. It's about people. People (coach drivers) carry millions of passengers and all those interactions are more successful if communicated successfully, and iMA helps you do that. iMA identifies which of four 'dialects' an individual uses to communicate, with each dialect looking at, and filtering the world, through different eyes and ears. Having identified how a person wants to receive information, iMA teaches you to modify and adapt the message in a way that is most likely to be understood. When this happens communication, trust, understanding, co-operation and sales go up, while stress and tension go down. When a coach driver communicates more effectively with passengers, coach excursions become harmonious and an optimum way to travel.
The judges praised Belle Vue for always being willing to try something new. In what is possibly the first application of iMA by a coach operator, the company is reaping the benefits of the technique, including matching coach drivers to the private hire customer. The judges thought it is good to see the company investing in its staff and is a reminder than the coach industry is all about people.
Winner, Bronze Award: United Minibuses and Coaches
Instant online quote
United Minibuses and Coaches has introduced ground-breaking live pricing technology to the coach hire industry. The system allows the customer to get an instant direct online quote for any destination in under 20 seconds, as well as being able to track their booking from quotation to payment, which is all automated. Gone are the days where a customer has to wait for a reply for a quote. The new technology has vastly improved the company's operational efficiency whereby staff can now price jobs instantly using the pricing tool, as well as seeing all jobs and quotes in a fast and efficient CRM database format.
While wondering if this really is the first instant online coach hire quoting system, the judges noted that this one links directly with the company's CRM system. The panel thought it will be interesting to see how it develops over time.
Coachhire4u Mobile App
Coachhire4u is embarking on creating its own mobile application with key features like coach tracking, map navigation, customer reviews, drivers' tip, online payment, vehicle checks, chat, promotional updates and much more. The project is still under development and it hoped to be launched for drivers and customers this summer.
Who can be nominated?
This category was open to industry suppliers, operators and authorities either separately or in conjunction with one another.
… and by whom?
Nominations were welcomed from all eligible organisations and self-nomination is acceptable.
Criteria and Entry Requirements
Entries are judged on the basis of the quality of the submissions which needed to:
- Provide a full description of the project, describing how it works and how it was introduced
- Explain how has it made a difference
- Supply evidence of the overall trend(s) affected by the project, as appropriate, in:
- customer satisfaction
- cost and efficiency levels
- State whether the results are likely to be sustainable
- Describe any future plans for further development
- Include any relevant supporting material
- Describe how the impact of the project was measured
- Describe how staff were informed and trained and the impact, if any, that the project has had on their jobs
- State whether any partners were involved and, if so, describe their roles