Lessons from award-judging

important for all businesses

I’ve just spent several days judging accommodation awards for the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence. I enjoy doing this as it gives great insights into trends and what others are doing to stay ahead. Perhaps surprisingly though it’s also a reminder to go back to basics.

Some of the best B&Bs or hotels miss out on awards (and bookings) because they don’t do the simplest things. The same lessons apply to other tourism businesses, whether attractions, activity providers, or food and drink outlets.

Respond to reviews! Whether your reviews are good or bad, your responses matter. It’s not just award judges who check whether you answer reviews - visitors like to see real people behind businesses. Responding to reviews shows you really care. Try to vary and personalise your responses. I’ve written about responding to reviews in more detail here.

Sustainability - whether you’re just getting started or already proud of your achievements, make sure you include a page on your website about sustainability. It’s an issue that’s only going to grow in importance. Visitors might not be making initial decisions to visit based on your sustainability but it will increasingly become a consideration. Chances are, you’re already doing something good but not telling people about it! Make sure you give full information on your website, social media and other marketing. More info here.

Include accessibility information. 1 in 5 people in the UK have some kind of impairment. Disabled people aren’t all in wheelchairs - many have sight or hearing loss or long term illnesses. You won’t always know whether people are in these categories - it’s not always obvious. 93% seek out good information before they visit. There’s plenty of guidance on how to provide the right kind of information. Find out more here.

Add local area information. It’s rare that a visitor goes somewhere without noticing their surroundings or wanting to know a little more about the places they visit and to be able to see something interesting, eat and drink something. It’s amazing how many businesses simply give a short list of places with links. Visitors really want your insider recommendations - it helps you position your business as a local ‘expert’, shows you care and can help your search engine optimisation too.


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