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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
HITA Mentors Club
Friends are at hand to help you! Over the years the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards have collected many friends and supporters. In 2019 we introduced the HITA Mentor’s Club of industry colleagues and past winners who are standing by to provide help and advice.
What help is available?
Advice on the phone
If you are unsure as to which award to go for, or how to start writing an application – pick up the phone and ask a friend! Mentors for telephone support are spread across Scotland and are there to help with technical questions and general advice.
Guidance on the application
Completing your application should be an interesting, simple and enjoyable task! For deeper support, a number of industry colleagues have offered to chat on the phone, or to meet, to give ideas on your application. These good folk are not here to write applications for you! But they do recognise that great business folk may not be naturals at stringing words together and they want the Highlands to properly celebrate their true achievements.
What a MENTOR will NOT do
Origination and writing of the award is up to you. The mentor will not put pen to paper or in any way directly engage in your application.
They do have experience of writing winning awards and they know how simple and straightforward the process should be. Their sound, practical advice is all about helping you to see the true value of making an application and recognising the things you need to highlight and the things you need to ignore. You know how it is that sometimes, we don’t see the wood for the trees? Well, a mentor sees the wood.
For more information on the network of Mentors, click here.