Best Service Provider
This award is designed to recognise and reward providers of services who have made outstanding efforts to accommodate, attract, and welcome coaches, their drivers and their passengers.
- Encore Tickets
Encore was established in 2000 to fulfil the need for a specialist ticketing company focused on delivering a full service to third parties in the travel industry, group organisers and online distributors. Now the largest independent ticket wholesaler in the UK, Encore sells in excess of 1 million theatre tickets annually. Packaging capabilities mean that, for example, the company delivers over 1,000 dinner-and-show packages each day for its partners.
Coach operator services include a money back guarantee on all musical theatre bookings placed through our coaching team, provided tickets are released one month before the date. This reduces the financial risk of making a theatre booking in the West End. Additionally, Encore's split coach offering allows coach operators to book multiple shows for one performance date and allow their customers much more choice and a better chance of full load factors. Encore manages the seat allocations, so it is as easy as booking one show.
In 2001, RoadChef recognised the need to develop a service aimed specifically at the needs of coach operators and drivers. The Coach Support Team was created in 2002 in order to help people in the coach travel industry plan routes, pre-book coaches into RoadChef motorway service areas and arrange for interchange sites to be made available. The facilities are readily available from the main page of the company's web site, with reward packages, information links and pre-booking facilities.
- Albatross Travel Group
The Albatross Travel Group is a trade only wholesale travel organisation, promoting its tours exclusively to the travel industry. The company specialises in group travel and all their packages are aimed at that market. Based, in Kent, the company was first established in 1985 and now handles the leisure travel arrangements for over 3,000 groups a year.
Eurotunnel's shuttles have been speeding coaches across the channel for some 15 years now, and carried over 55,000 vehicles in 2008. Coach operators can make fast and easy on-line bookings, and the web site also contains extensive information and advice for operators. The tunnel is now fully open once more following last autumn's fire.
- Group Line
Group Line was founded in 1991 by actor Simon Warwick and theatre producer Edward Snape. Since then the company has grown to be a highly respected independent group theatre ticketing agency, selling over 400,000 West End theatre tickets each year. Voted best Group Ticket Agency eight times since 1999 at the annual Group Travel Awards. The company offers group rates for all West End shows as well as UK attractions, London restaurants and hotels.
- Hilton Hotels
Hilton Hotels Corporation is the leading global hospitality company, with more than 3,000 hotels and 500,000 rooms in more than 80 countries, including 100,000 team members worldwide. A recent innovation in the groups and conferences market is the company's Personalised OnLine Group service, which allows group bookers to create a web page for their events. This allows members of the group access all the information they need, and also view and book rooms at pre-secured rates at the selected hotel. Available for groups requiring 10 rooms or more, the POG is fast – and free – to set up, and is available online 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Marriott Hotels
Marriott International, Inc. is a leading worldwide hospitality company. Its heritage can be traced to a soft-drink stand opened in Washington DC in 1927 by J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott. Today, Marriott International has nearly 2,800 lodging properties in 70 countries and territories around the world. In the UK, it was recently given fourth place in the “Best Companies to Work For” list in The Sunday Times. Marriott now offers the Marriott Group Partners website, a comprehensive on-line resource for professionals who plan and book group events and meetings.
- P & O Ferries
Europe's largest ferry operator, P&O has a wide range of cross-channel routes, including Dover-Calais, Portsmouth-Bilbao, Hull-Rotterdam and Hull-Zeebrugge. Additionally, P&O Irish Sea operates between Liverpool and Dublin and from Cairnryan and Troon to Larne. Group and coach bookings are a major part of the company's business, and it offers easy booking facilities and flexibility.
- Tourism Ireland
Tourism Ireland was established under the framework of the Belfast Agreement of Good Friday 1998. The organisation is funded by the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive operates under the auspices of the North South Ministerial Council. Tourism Ireland works with the two tourist boards on the island, Fáilte Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, who are responsible for product and enterprise development and marketing to tourism consumers within the island of Ireland.
Who could be nominated?
This category was open to:
- ferry operators
- river cruise companies
- heritage railways
- theatres and concert halls.
- producers of theatrical events and other special events.
… and by whom
Readers of Coach and Bus Week magazine who are coach operators and other industry professionals were asked to nominate providers of services they had admired during the last 12 months.
They were asked to explain why they thought that the nominated service provider deserved this award – this covered such matters as:
- the ease of booking
- the flexibility and quality of customer service during the enquiry and booking stages
- the welcome provided on the ground to
- the coach
- the passengers
- the driver