This category recognises the use of innovative and original ideas in development and implementation of programmes of coach tours and/or excursions within the UK. The judges look for programmes that are well-researched, and developed in partnership with quality suppliers and attractions.
Winner, Gold Award: Lucketts Travel
Innovation and occupancy
Research, innovation and careful analysis of data has helped Hampshire based Lucketts Travel to provide what it considers to be its best holiday programme to date. The company has enhanced its offering by merging its Worthing Coaches and Lucketts holiday programmes, allowing customers of both companies to have a wider choice of holidays. It has also added a door-to-door service for all Worthing customers as well as expanding the area covered to Eastbourne, a previously untapped market for the company. Results have been very worthwhile with a 19% increase in coach occupancy, and overall passenger numbers increasing by 6%. The Worthing business is also now better equipped to rival a local competitor.
In a well written entry, the judges noted the company's good use of data to nuture new customers, alongside making the most of recent acquisitions to consolidate its tour operation, which not only making it more profitable, but also increasing customer numbers and the variety of tours on offer.
Winner, Silver Award: Crusader Holidays
Britain & Europe by Coach 2018
Essex based Crusader Holidays was one of the pioneers of affordable coach holidays and short breaks. Forty years later it still offers an impressive programme of coach tours. Customer questionnaires and feedback, together with tour drivers' comments, have been carefully scrutinised resulting in several new holidays and itineraries. Keenly priced Sunday night one-night entertainment breaks have been introduced alongside favourites such as Thursford Christmas Spectacular, which had filled most departures by the end of January.
In a well written entry from a long-established brand, the judges noted a good selection of interchange and pick up points. They were pleased to see the company taking into account changing customer expectations and develop new tours.
Winner, Bronze Award: National Holidays
Enjoy Britain with National Holidays is a programme of around 15,000 short breaks and holidays in Britain. The company has carefully developed a programme of leisure and experience breaks designed to broaden the appeal of coach travel beyond it's traditional market. Themes ranging from Show and Special Events to Family Fun, City and Sports Breaks sit alongside the more traditional Leisure Breaks. This wide range of trips, alongside investment in 120 brand new coaches over the past eight years and a customer-focussed approach, have helped National Holidays achieve a 95% customer satisfaction score.
The judges were pleased to see National Holidays use its customer research to create a wide range of short breaks in an attractive brochure. They also noted good partnership working with key ticketing and tourism partners.
Finalist: Bayliss Executive Travel
Day Breaks & Holidays
Kent based Bayliss Executive Travel is relatively new to selling day trips and tours, having only started offering them in 2016. From a standing start, the company expects to carry in the region of 3,500 passengers this year as its programme of holidays, short breaks and day trips has proved to be extremely popular. Bayliss carefully selects its tours based on research from its customers, taking on board and implementing their suggestions. The main source of bookings are advertisements in two of the larger local newspapers, but the company also attends local trade shows and events, along with coffee mornings in retirement communities, care homes and village halls. Well established in its community, local stores, cafes and restaurants, supermarkets, farm shops and garden centres are just a few of the places that stock the cpmany's tour brochures.
Finalist: Bugler Coaches
Bugler Day Trips by Coach
Now in its twelth year of offering day trips, Bulger Coaches expects to carry over 2,500 passengers this year. All trips are within a two and half hour drive of the company's base in Bristol, and Bulger has established excellent relationships with venues such as the Babbacombe Theatre, which puts on a summer show matinee and a performance of its Christmas show especially for its customers. The company puts a lot of effort into setting up its trips and several weeks are spent each year visiting destinations and attractions and photographing them for the website and brochure. It also talks to the owners of attractions about how the visit can work best and checks the catering at any attractions where its customers are captive to ensure they offer good value and quality.
Finalist: Gardiners NMC
UK travel programme
Northumberland based Gardiners NMC acquired the holiday business of well establish Surrey operator Epsom Coaches last year and now produces brochures aimed at the different clientele of the two locations. The north east division, for example, offers a range of family-friendly breaks to theme parks and family attractions as its customer profile is younger than many coach companies, having successfully cultivated this market over many years. Customer satisfaction levels are high with over 90% of the business from repeat customers or recommendation. All passengers are given a welcome 'goodie bag' with a carton of juice, mints, a pen and puzzle book on departure.
Finalist: Kirbys Coaches
UK & Continental Holidays
Kirbys Coaches is confident that its 2018 tour programme is its best yet, and features Trip Advisor scores for the first time for all the hotels it uses. The Essex based company is one of the largest customers of Warner Leisure Hotels, which feature prominently amongst its UK tours. Noting that many of its customers are well travelled, finding new destinations is proving quite difficult, so in response, Kirbys is introducing 'experiences'. A Bournemouth tour, for example, includes a cream tea on the way to the hotel, and in September, an afternoon making your own Christmas pudding which will be matured by the hotels chefs and sent to the customer before Christmas, alongside a river cruise with fish and chips on board. The company wants to show the customer what is possible with a holiday and make it more of an experience, one that they wouldn't necessarily be able to create themselves.
Finalist: Woods Travel
UK Holidays & Day Excursions
Although established 47 years ago, Bognor Regis based Woods Travel began offering tours in 1984 starting with five destinations and has grown to a progamme offering over 170 destinations this year, alongside a further 300 day trips. Amongst the 35 new tours this year are a cruise on the largest hotel boat on the English waterways with a chance to experience the Severn Bore, a trip on the Jacobite steam train and the Isle of Skye, the Gower Peninsula and four coaches to Liverpool and the exhibition of the Terracotta Warriors. Tours and day trips are advertised in local newspapers and magazines as well as local radio and on social media, helping customer numbers last year up almost 7% for tours and over 12% for day trips.
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.