Best Coach Operator Information Service
Having received nominations from operators about tourist attractions, it became clear that a distinct category had emerged of national, regional or sub-regional organisations who cover wider area or a number of attractions, but whose information services and provision made a significant contribution to coach tourism and helped attractions or areas to welcome coaches, their drivers and their passengers. Accordingly, the judges decided to create this additional category.
- Historic Royal Palaces
Historic Royal Palaces is an independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and Kew Palace. Although the palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, the charity receives no funding from the Government or the Crown, so depends on the support of visitors, members, donors, volunteers and sponsors.
HRP offers substantial savings on admissions, great value offers and special interest tours at each palace. Group prices and conditions apply for visits of 15 people or more at the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Banqueting House, Kensington Palace and for visits of ten or more at Kew Palace. Group and travel trade manuals are produced in five languages, and there is a dedicated section of the web site to provide information and guidance.
Joint Runners Up
- English Heritage
English Heritage exists to protect and promote England's spectacular historic environment and ensure that its past is researched and understood. The agency is the Government's statutory adviser on the historic environment. The organisation has a membership of 665,000 and attracted a total of 5.3m visitors to its properties in 2007/08.
English Heritage has a major commitment to group visits and the provision of information to organisers and coach operators. It offers generous discounts on admission charges for groups of 11 paying visitors or more, and discounts are also available for groups attending EH events. The web site offers a range of facilities including an itinerary planning service.
- The National Trust
The National Trust is a charity and is completely independent of Government. The trust protects and opens to the public over 300 historic houses and gardens and 49 industrial monuments and mills. It also looks after forests, woods, fens, beaches, farmland, downs, moorland, islands, archaeological remains, castles, nature reserves and villages. The NT relies for its income on membership fees, donations and legacies, and revenue raised from commercial operations. The organisation now has 3.5 million members and 52,000 volunteers. More than 12 million people visit the trust's pay for entry properties, while an estimated 50 million visit the open air properties.
The National Trust offers a discount for groups of 15 people or more at most properties, and the group discount applies even when National Trust members (who get free entry) form the majority of the group. Group bookings are an important and valuable business to the National Trust and this includes catering, where properties can usually offer a discounted rate for large groups.The Trust's web site offers a range of information services for both group organisers and the travel trade, and there is also a very comprehensive annual printed groups guide.
- Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
The Yorkshire Dales is an area of spectacular scenery and countryside which covers approximately 1,500 square miles. The National Park was established in 1954 to help protect the landscape and the way of life of the Dales for future generations to enjoy. As well as its main web site, the National Park Authority runs a special travel web site, www.traveldales.org.uk, which provides information and advice to all Dales visitors. A dedicated coach driver's map and guide is part of this service, offering information and advice as well as localised town plans with coach parks clearly marked.
Who could be nominated?
National, regional or sub-regional organisations providing information and/or booking services to coach operators.
… and by whom
Readers of Coach and Bus Week magazine who are coach operators and other industry experts were asked to nominate organisations whose service they had admired during the last 12 months. They were asked to explain why they thought that the nominated organisation deserved this award.