Sonia Virechauveix and Tanja Lister, owners of the Kylesku Hotel, Sutherland, winner of the Most Hospitable Hotel categories at HITA 2015 and Scottish Thistle Awards 2016.

Entering a competition is always a little nerve wrecking as you are putting yourself out there and exposing the business to feedback, positive or not.

Kylesku Hotel

But our team was very supportive of the HITA process and very keen to be successful. One-to-one conversations captured their best practices and ideas on how to improve on our offering. Presenting the case on paper was also an excellent way to reflect on what we do day in, day out and enabled us to highlight our successes.

Having to reflect on your offering is an excellent starting point to measure yourself against your own ambitions. The questions asked in the application form were very pertinent to our business and they challenged our own understanding of our product and offer: do we actually do what we say we stand for?

It is a great measuring tool of the quality of your business as you have to assess your own progress. It also helps with future planning as you get a chance to reflect on your next strategy and how you plan to achieve it. Finally, getting a result is an endorsement of your peers.

The ultimate reward is, of course, to become a finalist and/or a winner. For us, it has raised our profile with our guests and many have been very supportive and encouraging.

Tourism is incredibly important in this part of the world. The award has made our business stand out and helped us to be become a destination hotel. We currently have guests who, when deciding where to go for a weekend, will now choose us as a destination, alongside the likes of Cornwall.

It has also made us a lunch destination for anyone living/holidaying on the east coast. Of course this has a major ripple effect on the local area as we have increased our purchases in the local community.

More subtlety, it has enabled us to recruit better, it made us more credible as good employers and a great place to work, while generally I think it has showcased hospitality as a positive career choice.

Indirectly, winning an award means you become a very credible force in your market place with the award itself being on show and all the indirect marketing.

Then, getting judged by members of the public, the same ones you aim to look after every day, is also a great way to get a quantifiable measure of your success and message.

The HITA awards night was a very special event for us, made even more special as we went with a member of the team. It was a way to share our values and passion and recognise their hard work with a very special night where we met many great ambassadors of our industry.


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