Coach Travel Programme

This category is designed to recognise the use of innovative and original ideas in development and implementation of programmes of coach tours and/or excursions.

The judges were looking for programmes that are well-researched, and developed in partnership with quality suppliers and attractions.

Winners: Woods Coaches, Leicester, 'That's Entertainment" theatre visits programme

A screenshot of Woods Coaches programme marketed through their excellent web site Woods Coaches are a Leicestershire based, family owned, coaching company, employing 55 staff (including 21 drivers) with a fleet of 16 coaches. They have been operating for 60 years and have built up a database of over 12,000 names of regular customers. During the year the company offers coach hire services, but also runs 120 coach holidays and approximately 550 day trips.

Building on the popularity of the reality TV series about West End shows, the company has introduced a day trip programme branded That's Entertainment, which offers a range of excursions to London theatre shows and live events at regional venues.

Thls range includes many different West End Shows, pantomimes, ice-skating shows, pop concerts and live tours throughout the year. The West End shows are usually scheduled as matinee performances to allow the trips to get to and from London within a day.

The trips are priced as a package combining the coach fare and ticket price. Woods only charge the price that they pay for the tickets (plus the coach fare) to the customer and do not add any additional booking fees or markup.

On each ticket the customers can see the price that individuals pay at the theatres (which is much higher than group rates and excludes the cost of transport) and therefore they are impressed with how travelling with Woods Coaches is a cost effective way to see a London Show.

The company works with a number of agencies, but particularly closely with Encore Tickets. A strong marketing campaign has delivered growth of 139% over three years.The judges felt that this was an excellent example of recognising a niche marketing opportunity and building a good and profitable programme on the back of it. Woods have taken a useful opportunity to widen the market for coach travel, and the programme is well-researched and well-executed with potential for development.

Runners Up: Bugler Coaches of Bristol: Day Excursion Programme

A page from Bugler's attractive day excursion brochureAlthough Bugler Coaches has more than 50 years experience of Private Hire, Day Excursions were onlv introduced in 2008 after a small pilot run at the end of 2007.

In the development of their 2010 Day Excursion Coach Travel Programme, the company has sought out original ideas to add value to their already popular itinerary from 2008 and 2009. Realising that innovation was crucial to success, Bugler spoke to their passengers, and discovered that they wanted much more than just four hours at the seaside.

So armed with this information, the company has made arrangements with a range of organisations, including hotels, boat companies and steam railways and set about creating some fabulous and exciting days out. The 2010 Programme is the most ambitious yet.

Bugler plans to run an average of 6 trips a week, using 2 pick up routes across Bath and Bristol and they've recruited more drivers to ensure that they can run as many coaches as there is demand for. The programme features new destinations, unusual museums and mystery places around the country that offer our customers something special.

In 2008, Bugler sold 3,000 seats on their coaches throughout the year. In 2009 this number more than doubled to 6,500, ahead of their  target of 6,000 passengers. The majority of passengers have booked 3 or more day trips and the business has been receiving an average of six calls a day requesting the new brochure. The customer database has grown by over 100% in 12 months.

The judges thought that this was a very clever and successful approach to developing a high quality day excursions programme, based on close customer research and close monitoring of outcomes. 

Highly Commended

The following nominations were highly commended by the judges.

Arts for All

Arts for All is run by Frank and June North, and was nominated for this award by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. The couple organise a programme of visits to Symphony Hall and other arts venues in the region from the village of Pontesbury and the surrounding areain Shropshire. The January to March brochure featured 27 events including plays, operas, ballets and concerts in Birmingham, Mold, Lavern and Newcastle-under-Lyme. the summer programme offes a total of 36, including visits to the Royal Shakespeare Company's productions at Stratford.

The CBSO recommended Frank and June for "their passion for the arts". It's a service without which many people would not have access to arts events, whilst their colloboration with local coach operators and venues ensures a high-comfort travel experience. The judges agreed and make a highly commended award to Frank and June.

Excelsior Coaches, Bournemouth

Excelsior's attractive advertising for its 2010 brochureExcelsior Coaches has been in business for 85 years and has a long established Coach Touring arm to the business offering in excess of 100 coach-touring hoildays per annum to a wide range of UK and Continental destinatinations, carrying over 3,000 passengers per annum to various locations including Cornwall, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Austria, Germany and Air Tours.

The company's objective is to offer their customers more than any other Coach Touring Operator, by providing them with a full itinerary with as many inclusions as possible and detailing this in the brochure in an effective manner that reflects the package price, with no extra hidden costs to the customer.

In 2008 and 2009 the company analysed tour booking performance and looked at the overall booking trends and researched where it was that people where travelling or wanting to travel too. The management team recognised the need to enhance the UK programme for 2010 in particular because they recognised that the poor Euro was encouraging clients to look at “Stay-cations” in the UK.

Excelsior constantly monitors the suitability of the original programme offered, by the volume of bookings and via questionnaires, market research and customer feedback who have travelled.

The judges were impressed by this well-researched and carefully planned coach holiday programme, highly responsive to market trends and with attractive and well-produced promotional material. 

InterChoice Holidays, Wolverhampton

InterChoice is a multi-award winning company that markets a huge range of coach holidays to destinations throughout the UK and Europe from pick up points concerntrated in the West Midlands. 

The judges commended this comprehensive and extensive programme.

The cleverly designed cover of the InterChoice brochure

Who could be nominated?

The award was open to operators and organisers 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.

Criteria and Entry Requirements

Decisions have been based on the quality of the submissions made, and the extent to which they address the criteria.

Entry submissions needed to:

  • Describe the programme involved.
  • State whether a partnership was involved. This could include local and tourist authorities, and/or providers of services (e.g. meals, hotels, admission tickets, ferry services)
  • Describe the objectives set for the initiative.
  • Describe how:
    • needs and potential needs were assessed, including details of market evaluation and customer research
    • potential customers were informed of the improved or new product(s)
    • interest in, or desire for, the product(s) was assessed
  • the research and original thinking involved.
  • Supply evidence of the success of the programme (for example in terms of patronage, revenue or other appropriate indicators such as seat occupancy)
  • Describe any future plans for further development.
  • Include any relevant supporting material.

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