Create A Winning Award

Top Tips for an application, from a National Thistle Awards Judge
Tips in a couple of quick videos from a previous HITA head Judge

Calum Ross, Chair of Judges gives his top tips  

How do you go about creating an award-winning entry, one that will really make you stand out from the crowd? Calum Ross, the proprietor of Loch Melfort Hotel near Oban, is a previous winner of the acclaimed ambassador prize and now chairs the judging panel. 

“A good application is easy to read, gives clear and concise information that is supported by the business website and by feedback from users via online content such as TripAdvisor.” 

“Read the questions very carefully and be sure to answer them fully, providing the information and evidence requested,” he says. 

“Use the full word count allocation but don’t exceed it either.“Prepare by researching previous winners’ websites, social media and user-generated content, plus that of who you consider to be your closest competitors. 

“Write and submit your own entry – don’t let anyone else or an agency do it on your behalf!” 

It’s not only the winners who benefit from the HITA process – just by stopping to think about what part of your business is worth shouting about can help improve how you work. 

The awards cover a range of categories and Calum says anyone who wants to grow or develop their business should consider applying. 

“Entering for an award is a great way to focus your mind and those of your team on what is really great about your business – and of course perhaps one or two things that you could improve,” he said.  

“Any award is a good PR opportunity for any business, so depending on how you use it, it can drive new visits and likes to your website and social media channels.” 

What can you do to improve your chances of winning a Highlands and Islands Tourism Award?

FN – They are the Oscars of the tourism Industry. An award is a real, practical marketing tool: it gives potential customers added faith in the product and brings sales.

It also gives staff a sense of pride in working for an award-winning business.

LY – Collaborating on an application is a good team activity. It brings staff together to think about all the positive achievements of the business.  Owners/managers can use the award process to build teamwork and positive energy. There is a huge buzz when the business gets shortlisted, or even wins. Having an award is also a great message to share on social media, website, blogs, mailshots etc

FN – It is all about the customer experience and providing true Highland Hospitality.

LY – Judges are looking for the magic!  What makes the business special and why does it stand out from the crowd? Tell a spellbinding story in the application – make it interesting and compelling.

FN – Tell the story from your heart – you know your business the best. And prove that you do what you say by giving examples.

LY – Only include information that answers the question.  Read the criteria for the award carefully and focus on providing information on what is being assessed. Keep answers relevant and interesting to make your application stand out.

FN – In most cases it should be clear, but if you are in doubt contact Amanda Ewenson or 01224 646488 for advice.

LY – Study the criteria for the category and make sure your application complies.    Discuss with your team. If you’re still unsure, speak to the awards’ admin team (see above)

FN – Nominations can be made for Tourism and Hospitality Hero, Highland Rising Star and Highland Ambassador

  • 22nd March  Nominations and Entries Open
  • 27th May – Nominations Close
  • Noon 14th June – Entries Close (Deadline extended)
  • 5th September – Shortlist Announced
  • 4th November – Awards Ceremony and Dinner
 "At Etive the HITA experience has been great and with the Finals pending we are still seeing its rewards in live time, it is still commented on by guests that follow our social media platforms and they are excited to experience what the judges have awarded us for."
David Lapsley - Etive Restaurant
"We were absolutely blown away! We decided to take 12 members of our team for the big night in Inverness and with such great competition we were all happy to have just been nominated but to WIN was the icing on the cake. To see our teams faces when it was announced was a moment I will never forget."
Gary Curley - Sligachan Hotel
"The Awards gave us an opportunity to increase our business profile. Both within the tourism sector in the Highlands and also to potentially bring in more customers. It was quite a buzz to find out we were in the finals of the Awards."
Cory Jones - Gairloch Canoe
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