European Coach Travel Programme
This category recognises the use of innovative and original ideas in development and implementation of programmes of coach tours to overseas destinations in Europe and Ireland. 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 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 more 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.
Very good use of customer data was particularly noted by the judges in this well written entry. Set alongside its recent expansion through acquisition, challenges have been overcome and opportunities taken to help Lucketts become the predominant operator in the area.
Winner, Silver Award: Crusader Holidays
Europe by Coach 2018
Crusader Holidays has been offering coach tours for more than 40 years and is now part of Motts Travel. With extensive experience in the industry, the company is always innovating and adding new intineraries. In response to the growing interest in river and ocean cruising, Crusader has added a Dutch bulbfields cruise, German Christmas market cruise, cruise and coach on the Blue Danube, cruising the Seine Valley, fjordland cruise and a Dublin weekend cruise. Other new tours on the continent include nine day holidays to Lake Balaton and Budapest, the Scandinavian capitals and the Italian lakelands, alongside eight day tours to Vienna, Bratislava and the Danube and to the Bernese Oberland. A new war-themed tour, 'Operation Dynamo - Dunkirk', has been created to reflect the interest in the Christopher Nolan film released last year. All tours are researched and a full programme of hotel and site inspections has been conducted for the 2018 European programme by the Product Team including visits to Disneyland Paris, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain. Further visits are planned this year to destinations in Italy, Germany and Spain.
Consolidating its position as a leading coach tour operator, the judges were impressed with the wide range of imaginative tours on offer, no doubt helped by the extensive work with tourism and travel trade partners.
Winner, Bronze Award: Kirbys Coaches
UK & Continental Holidays
Trip Advisor scores for all the hotels the company uses on its tours is one of the new additions to what Essex based Kirbys Coaches considers to be its best tour programme yet. Its 66 years in the industry has given it a great understanding of the European tour market place, but it continues to invest in research and listens to its customers. Kirbys' principle is quite simple: 'would any of us wish to stay in this hotel and enjoy that itinerary at the price we advertise at?'. Every lead customer is always telephoned after the tour and asked for their feedback. If it's all positive, customers are asked: 'if there is one thing that could be better, what would that be?'. In addition to this, a focus group consisting of 50 randomly selected customers gives Kirbys the chance to discuss what matters the most to its travellers and how to make improvements in the future.
The judges commented that sticking to the principle of only offering tours that the proprietors themselves would want to buy has paid dividends for Kirbys. They also noted the excellent use of customer feedback, focus groups and Trip Adivsor.
Specially Commended: Bayliss Executive Travel
Although it only started selling tours in 2016, Kent based Bayliss Executive Travel 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. It's programme this year features holidays to continental Europe lasting from four to eight days. Bayliss believes that, not only is customer feedback important, but it's also important to show that customer comments are being taken on board. For example, the company's Austrian Tyrol holiday in June is returning to the same hotel but with a newly improved itinerary that has more visits included.
The judges said that Bayliss has made an excellent start into the tour programme market over the past two years. It has some good ideas for the programme, including varying trips to suit different markets at different times of the year.
ase in coach occupancy and overall passenger numbers increasing by 6%. The Worthing business is also now better equipped to rival a local competitor.
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.