Just before the end of the year, we interviewed the organisers of the Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland Culloden Run to hear their thoughts on winning awards and learn why the event is so special. Here is what they told us:
How did it feel to have won at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards 2013?
Everyone involved with the Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland Culloden Run event was absolutely delighted to have won ‘best sporting event’ at the 2013 HITA awards. As a relatively small and new sporting event, it was wonderfully rewarding to be recognised in this way and it provides a valued appreciation to all those who work so hard over many hours to make the event happen. This prestigious award really enhances the event and also provides positive motivation to the team behind it.
Do you feel, as a tourism business, that winning awards has a positive impact on your event?
Without doubt winning an award enhances the reputation of an event and clearly suggests that a peer review of the event has shown the quality and economic benefits of the event are readily evident against similar events. The award will only enhance subsequent marketing and attracting more entrants and also gives the whole organisation a valued morale boost and sense of pride – both for CHSS and NTS Culloden staff. The award system is a clear benchmarking tool for us.
What makes the Culloden Run such a special event?
The Culloden Run event is a unique partnership between CHSS and the NTS and was designed to have mutual benefits for both parties. The event takes place at an iconic venue and the skills and talents of both parties ensure that the overall experience for participants is as high a quality level as possible and always seeking to improve and enhance the experience.
What can we expect from the event in 2014?
2014 will see the third staging of the award winning Culloden Run event on October 26th and we are aiming to be bigger and better than ever!
We also hope to announce a brand new adrenaline event in the Highlands for summer 2014 but await final confirmation in the next few weeks!
We were delighted that Fraser Campbell, our newly awarded Highlands and Islands Ambassador of the Year 2013, took time to chat to us last week on tourism in the region and his business, the Cobbs Group. Read on to find out what we discussed. We must say, all the talk of Cobbs cranachan cake left us feeling rather hungry!Congratulations on being HITA’s Highlands and Islands Ambassador of the Year for 2013. So, how does it feel to have been chosen by your peers in the region for this accolade?I was absolutely blown away when George Baxter SSE announced my name, so much so that I was in a state of shock when I went to the stage to collect the trophy and couldn’t gather my thoughts quick enough to make a more meaningful delivery than just a “thank you”. It was a great honour, of which, now that it has sunk, in I am very proud of. It has also been received extremely well by colleagues and friends within the industry – my Facebook page has never been busier!What most excites you about Highlands and Islands Tourism?This is my profession and I have been involved in it since I was a boy through my family. I studied this game since I left school and have experienced all aspects of hospitality, from washing dishes to owning my own hotel and running this company (Cobbs). I am from the Highlands and I want this area to be the best and the area where people want to return to, not just for the scenery, but also the friendly, good service and quality of the experience.We cannot sit on our laurels, we still have a long way to go and every day does not always go as planned, but as long as I am involved I will always try to right the wrongs and take the praise when we get it right, the Highlands and Islands has a great future in all aspects of hospitality!What do you feel the Highlands and Islands do best in regards to the visitor offering?No doubt, interaction with the guest is one of the top attributes. Good, well-prepared locally sourced food is another and great, iconic locations for some of our hotels, guest houses, and self-catering offerings. There a variety of activities in the region that are easy to get to in a day and that is another unique selling point of the Highlands and Islands.Are there any particular topics affecting our region’s tourism industry that you are most passionate about? Because of the seasonality of our industry in the Highlands and Islands, I have always been a great advocate for a moratorium on VAT throughout the close season, which would help to sustain what we made in the season.The development of an International Hotel School in the Highlands would help to raise awareness of what a great training ground we have here for the hospitality stars of the future.Apart from developing our own business thus creating more jobs, it is my hope that this accolade will help to raise the credo of my involvement with the charity that I am a supporter of, The Archie Foundation.What do you feel are the biggest challenges of running a tourism business in this region?High transport and fuel costs are a serious consideration. Another is staffing and finding particularly trained staff that have a passion for the job. The pitfalls of government legislation from employment law, health and safety and the rest (we all encounter it and as a business grows) so these things kick in on a regular basis and we incur more costs in dealing with it. Can you please tell us a little about the Cobbs Group? The holding company of the trading name Cobbs was born out of The Loch Ness Coffee Co. Ltd, a company I started with three others when we won the franchise for the catering for Historic Scotland at Urquhart Castle. We were then based at The Drumnadrochit Hotel. After we left there we opened a restaurant in the village of Drumnadrochit on the site of The Drum Farm where we inherited Shenna Lloyd, the baker. We named the new venture Cobbs after John Cobb who was tragically killed on September 29th 1952 on Loch Ness attempting the world water speed record.About a year after we took over we started selling our home baking as there seemed to be a demand for this type of product on a commercial scale and as they say, the rest is history!As a company we now have three hotels, one private members club in Edinburgh, 10 coffee shops and of course the bakery, which is the best form of advertising, marketing and PR we have. What better way to introduce yourself but with a large slice of Cobbs Carrot Cake? I rest my case! How does your typical day unfold? I usually have a very early start. If I am at home, the first stop is at our office in Drumnadrochit, at the rear of The Drumnadrochit Hotel. On many occasions however I am heading down the A9 to meetings with our distributors, Fife Creamery, or with our manager and director in Edinburgh who happens to be my son Daniel, (who has just made me a Grandfather with the birth of Max James Campbell), so my journeys south will definitely be increased.Every day there is a new challenge to tackle from human resources and manager meetings, to checking Trip Advisor, to tasting new product (good job!), to looking at new sites, buying bric a brac for our coffee shops or checking what our suppliers are charging us – there is never a dull moment! I usually get home about 7 or 8pm.That’s the way it is but I wouldn’t change it for a 9 to 5 – No Thanks!!!!!!! We need to know this! What is your personal favourite from the Cobbs bakery? Ours is the Carrot Cake but what can’t you resist? I like all the products as one can see by looking at me, but our award winning Cranachan Cake is hard to beat with a nice glass of Prosecco of a Sunday with my good wife and fellow director Jackie who has to put up with all my idiosyncrasies.Check out http://www.cobbs.info/ to keep up to date with news from Fraser Campbell and the Cobbs Group.
Sixteen outstanding tourism businesses and individuals were revealed on Friday at the eighth annual Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA) ceremony and gala dinner at the Drumossie Hotel in Inverness. HITA recognises and rewards businesses and individuals offering superior service levels and customer awareness throughout the Highlands and Islands tourism industry.
Amongst the list of outstanding winners, owner and managing director of the Cobbs group, based at Loch Ness, Fraser Campbell, was awarded the coveted HITA Highlands and Islands Ambassador of the Year award.
The 2013 Awards were opened by HITA Chairperson, Marina Huggett, Minister of Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, Fergus Ewing and Chairman of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, Stephen Leckie, following entertainment from magician, Clive Grewcock, the Black watch 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland and Pipe major Richard Grisdale, and musicians, Ruairidh McDonald and Colin and Alan Train, before the winners were announced. The awards were presented by the master of ceremonies, Robert Lovie.
The full list of HITA 2013 winners are Best Bar, Café or Restaurant Award winner – Café Artysans, Inverness, Best Cultural Event Award winner – Tiree Music Festival, Tiree, Best Sporting Event Award winner – Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland’s Culloden Run, Inverness, Best Shopping Experience – Johnstons of Elgin, Elgin, Best Guest House or B & B Award Wemyss House, Tain, Best Hotel Award winner – Duisdale House Hotel, Isle of Skye, Best Self-Serve Accommodation Award – Whitefalls Spa Lodges, Isle of Lewis, Best Tour Operator Programme award winner – Wilderness Scotland, Aviemore , Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Award – Boots N Paddles / TreeZone, Inverness, Marketing Campaign of the Year Award – Wilderness Scotland, Aviemore, Best Partnership in Tourism award winner – Highland Experience Tours, Highland-wide operation, Best Nature Based Experience Award – Aigas Field Centre, Inverness-shire, Best Visitor Attraction Award – The Glenlivet Distillery Visitor Centre, Ballindalloch and the winner of the Training and Skills Development Award – Frankie’s Fish & Chips, Shetland. Andrew Whitehouse, Café Artysans, Inverness and Gordon Pearson, WOW Scotland, Inverness were awarded HITA Best Young Ambassador of the Year 2013.
Each of the HITA winners* were automatically given a place on the shortlist of VisitScotland’s national tourism awards scheme, the Scottish Thistle Awards, providing the opportunity for HITA winners to be acknowledged nationally for their achievements. The Scottish Thistle Awards will be held on 15 November this year.
Marina Huggett, chairperson of HITA said: “In this our eighth year of operation, the HITA Board is delighted to report our biggest number of registrations for the awards. This high level coupled with the excellent quality of applicants made the task of our independent judging panel even more challenging.
We would like to say “well done” to every one of our finalists and to the winners “congratulations”. The hard work and determination of businesses like theirs is what puts Scotland on the map and helps us become a “must visit” destination.”
For more information please log on to www.highland-tourism-awards.co.uk
From award-wining food writers and hoteliers to kilt makers and even the Loch Ness Monster, The Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards (HITA) have received a wealth of worthy nominations over the years for their highest accolade, The Highlands and Islands Ambassador of the Year Award.
The HITA board are now calling for nominations from the community for the 2013 Ambassador of the Year Award, presented at the HITA ceremony and gala dinner on 4 October at the Drumossie Hotel, Inverness. The award is traditionally kept under-wraps until the night of the awards ceremony and no short-list is drawn for the category.
Marina Huggett, chairwoman, HITA, encourages nominations for potential 2013 Ambassadors from across the Highlands and Islands and highlights the importance of the accolade: “The Highlands and Islands Ambassador of the Year award is a very significant one in our programme. It is the people in our industry that drive excellence forward and these people must be recognised and encouraged to keep going.
“We know that many of our previous Ambassadors feel that receiving the award has enabled them to further their tourism mission and gain greater profile for the tourism work they are involved in. For this award, we are looking to identify an individual who has dedicated their time and energy to making a marked difference to tourism in the Highlands and Islands.”
The criteria states that nominees for this category should be 31 years or over on 1st November 2013 and should have demonstrated commitment in their chosen field and business community. They should have a track record of inspiring and leading others to create a more sustainable tourism industry.
Previous HITA Highlands and Islands Ambassadors have been Shirley Spear of award winning restaurant ‘The Three Chimneys’ in Skye in 2012, Grant Sword, director at the Royal Golf Hotel in Dornoch and partner at Castle Stuart Golf Links in 2011, Lady Claire Macdonald, acclaimed cook and food writer in 2010, Gavin Ellis, owner of the Knockomie Hotel, Forres in 2009, Freda Newton, managing director of five star visitor attraction, Jacobite, Inverness in 2008, Duncan Chisholm, kilt maker, in 2007, Hamish Swan, chairman of CairnGorm Mountain Ltd (1997-2011), in 2006 and Willie Cameron, director, business development director, Cobbs Group in 2005.
Those wishing to nominate should send the name of the nominee and write, in 750 words or less, what the candidate has contributed to tourism in the Highlands and Islands. Nominations should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 30 August 2013.