HITA 2019: Why Enter / Breakdown of Categories

You may remember our ‘World Story Telling Day’ Blog where Willie Cameron told us that entering the Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards is a great opportunity to have a think about the story your business has to tell. Don’t be put off by the application process – just think about what it is that makes your business stand out from the crowd and then tell your story.

If you’re thinking about entering, but unsure about why you should enter or which category to enter in, then keep reading.

Best Self Catering Accommodation Experience sponsored by Caledonian Sleeper

This category celebrates businesses that provide fantastic and genuine emotional engagement with the visitor and exceptional service. This award celebrates that visitors are looking for a unique and bespoke accommodation that suits their travel style – while still experiencing true Scottish hospitality. If you offer overnight accommodation but are not a hotel, guest house or B&B – this this award is for you.  Dianne & Rod Fraser, owners of the 2018 winner, Where Stags Roar, say that these awards have helped put their name ‘out there’ in the Highlands and has given them something to talk about with the media. 

Most Hospitable B&B/Guest House sponsored by Scottish Building Society

B&Bs and Guest Houses are at the front line of Scotland’s hospitality reputation and have the ability to provide a personal and memorable experience for every guest. This category celebrates going the extra mile to demonstrate heart-warming levels of customer service to every guest who steps through the door. Any business that considers itself a Guest House or B&B and offers authentic and a genuinely warm hospitality, should enter. Our 2018 winner, Pool House, says “If you believe you have an excellent product, have the confidence to enter. It might be that others agree with you and that’s a very nice feeling indeed!”

Best Hotel Experience sponsored by Fishers

The hotel experience is key to creating many visitors’ lasting impressions of Scotland and their world famous Scottish hospitality. This award recognises hotels that strive to give the customer the most hospitable and comfortable experience while they enjoy their stay in Scotland. Entries are welcome from hotels that demonstrate exemplary levels of customer service and satisfaction and most importantly offer memorable and authentic hospitality.

Best Cultural Event or Festival sponsored by HIAL

Scotland is the perfect stage for events. For large scale one-off events to local and community festivals, Scotland really knows how to put on a show. This category celebrates events which include, inspire and involve all guests, whether local or visiting and provide a platform for Scotland to show off its greatest features. Organisers of new or established local, regional or international events of any size should enter this category. Your event must be a recurring event as part of the ongoing tourism offering to enter and you event must have taken place within the time period from June 2018 – June 2019 with outcomes known at the time of submission. Pauline Clifford from 2018 winner Oban Live, says that winning has given the event “an official quality stamp” and it helps those who are new to Oban Live to trust the event before purchasing tickets.

Best Restaurant Experience 

This category is designed to recognise and celebrate restaurants who not only offer a quality food and drink experience, but include and promote local Scottish produce on their menus to give consumers choice. This category is open to restaurants of any size and culinary influence to suit every occasion and budget. It is for restaurants that showcase the finest examples of Scottish produce on their menus alongside excellent food service and customer experience. 

Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience sponsored by Inverness Hotel Association

Outdoor, Adventure and Wildlife experiences are a key part of what makes a visit to Scotland so unique and memorable. This category celebrates businesses that give unforgettable, quality and authentic experiences to their visitors. Businesses large and small that provide outdoor or adventure experiences and have a focus on delivering real customer satisfaction should enter this category. Shane Wasik from Basking Shark, the 2018 Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience winner, says that applying for these awards is a great opportunity to pitch yourself against businesses in similar situations and to get recognition for your hard work. 

Best Visitor Attraction sponsored by Loch Ness By Jacobite

Scotland has a wealth of unique and fascinating Visitor Attractions, from Castles and Palaces to Nuclear Bunkers and famous Pandas. This category celebrates the variety of opportunity provided to Scotland’s visitors and the attractions which provide world class service with a distinctive Scottish twist. This category is for visitor attractions of all kinds and sizes that demonstrate exemplary levels of customer service, customer satisfaction and a business commitment to hospitality.

Best Bar/Pub

This award celebrates the key role of bars and pubs in the experience of visitors to Scotland. Whether your business attracts high fashion, cutting edge musicians/DJs or offers a comforting and friendly home from home to your guests, we are celebrating the diverse bar and pub offerings and all they contribute within the tourism sector. Any business that considers themselves a pub or a bar, should enter. MacGregor’s Bars were crowned the 2018 Best Bar/Pub and Bruce MacGregor would encourage those thinking of entering to “just do it! If nothing else, it reminds you WHY you do things.” 

Innovation in Tourism sponsored by Highlands & Islands Enterprise

This category celebrates tourism businesses that are looking to the future! From physical expansion to investing in youth training, there are plenty of ways that businesses can take risks to improve and invest in the future. This award looks to honour a business using innovation to commit to the future of tourism in Scotland. We welcome small or large organisations focused towards the hospitality industry or Tourism sector to enter this category. Inverness Taxis was the 2018 winner in this category and Managing Director Gavin Johnston told us that as a result of winning this award, they went on to win the Best Customer Service award and Best Marketing award in the Scottish Taxi, Private Hire & Chauffeur Awards.

Highland Ambassador sponsored by SSE

We all have a responsibility in shaping the future of our industry. People with their commitment and passion for the industry are the critical success factors. In establishing this award we are looking to recognise these qualities in an individual who has dedicated their time and energy to making a difference to tourism in their local area. Nominees in this category should be 31 years of age or over at 1stJune 2019.

Highland Rising Star sponsored by The Federation of Small Businesses

People are the essence of the Tourism industry. The future of our industry lies with our young people, having the passion, ambition and dedication to want to have successful careers within this dynamic industry. This award celebrates an individual who shows real promise as a rising star in Scottish tourism and a passion for their future and the future of the industry. The Highland Rising Star Award is open to all young people aged 30 and under as of 1stJune 2019. 

Tourism & Hospitality Hero sponsored by RBS

This category celebrates an individual on the front line of the customer service experience. Across Scotland, there are a huge number of people who unlock something special for every visitor – from tour guides to front of house staff – anyone who provides exceptional service and a memorable and personal touch. We have in mind tourism guides, front of house staff, drives and receptionists. We welcome entries from anyone who works on the front line of the tourism industry but if you’re a “service hero” in any appropriate role, please apply. Emma Clark from Glenegedale House won this award last year and told us that winning the award has made her “raise the bar” and wants the business to be the best it can be at every moment. 

Working Together for Tourism sponsored by Highland Council

This category celebrates partnerships, collaborations and team working. This is the category for community tourism, destination management organisations (b2b), tour operators, destination marketing companies, destination management companies, transport operators, retail and entertainment venues. If you believe that “tourism is everyone’s business” – this is the category for you. Mull Eagle Watch took home this award last year and David Sexton, Mull Officer, is proud to be able to “shout from the hill tops that Mull Eagle Watch is an ‘award winning project’.” 

Best Heritage Tourism Experience sponsored by Port of Cromarty Firth

This award is designed to celebrate Scotland’s rich and vibrant heritage and those who bring it to life – placing heritage at the forefront of Scotland’s tourism offering. Heritage Tourism is all around us – from our museums and heritage centres to our guided tours and events. This category is open to an individual, organisation or events who excel in bringing Scotland’s distinctive history, heritage and traditions to life and who make Scotland’s history an important and engaging part of the visitor experience.” Gill Reid, the manager of the 2018 winner, Speyside Cooperage Visitor Centre, entered this category after being anonymously nominated and told us that since winning the HITA award they came runner up in Rural Employer category at the Scottish Rural Awards. 

Best Informal Eating Experience sponsored by SPP Media Group

This category is designed to recognise and celebrate businesses who not only offer quality food and drink experience, but include and promote local Scottish produce on their menus to give consumers choice. In Scotland there are eateries to suit every occasion and budget. This award is for businesses that do not consider themselves a formal restaurant – food and hospitality in an informal setting is the focus. The Seafood Shack in Ullapool took this award home in 2018 and co-owners Fenella and Kirsty agree that the HITA awards are a great way to show what the Highlands and Islands have to offer and “to recognise the work everyone puts in to making visitors have the best time.”

Decided to enter? Visit www.highland-tourism-awards.co.uk/information to start the process.

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