Here are answers to some of the most common questions:
I’m a small business, how can I compete against large ones with more resources than me?
Our judges are well used to comparing businesses of very different types and sizes, usually asking themselves the question: “can this business be any better at what it is?” as well as "how well does this business deliver to its target audience?". In the past this has led to satisfactory comparisons of individual cottages with large complexes, as well as surf schools with car hire companies. Customer expectations differ for different businesses types and sizes, and so do those of our judges.
I’m a large business, how can I compete against a small one that only has to maintain one property?
See answer above – the same answer applies!
Please can you add a category for 'my type of business'?
Tourism is a huge and diverse industry and we try to offer an opportunity for every business to enter, but have to balance this out with categories that have enough entries to make them viable and the need for an awards night that finishes at a sensible hour! If you can't find a category to match your business, please get in touch with us and we'll give you guidance on what to do.
Why can’t every entry be mystery shopped?
We’d love to visit every business that enters, but our judges are volunteers and the whole programme has to be handled within the budgets made possible by sponsor funding.
Should I get a professional to complete my entry form?
Almost certainly not! Judges want to see the passion for excellence that comes from a business owner or manager. They want evidence rather than ‘fluff’ – and won’t be impressed by hyperbolae and marketing-speak. Please be yourself!
Don’t the same businesses always win?
Remarkably, the last few years have seen very few ‘repeat winners’ and the judging requirement for year-on-year quality enhancements makes it very hard for anyone to win again unless they have made significant new investments in their business or are genuinely outstanding in their field. If you have won gold two years in a row in the same category you are not eligible to enter this year in that category, but could consider another. We are always delighted to see new entrants.
How should I answer the training question if the business is just me and my partner?
Training and continuous professional development applies just as much to business owners and managers as to their employees, so take the opportunity to tell us how you keep in touch with latest thinking and skills.
My business is on a steep hill and has loads of steps. How can I answer the Access question?
Please remember that accessibility is about you doing what you reasonably can to offer a quality experience to all visitors, whatever their needs. It therefore relates to mothers with buggies, people with allergies, those with visual or hearing impairment, just as much as those with mobility needs. Use your answer to illustrate what you have done to prevent barriers to your business.
I am not a member of Tourism South East, can I enter?
Yes you can; at the bottom of the entry form tick the box that says non member entry and we will invoice you for £65 plus VAT which includes two entries plus access and sustainablity into the awards. For B and B's it is £45 plus VAT. Payment must be received prior to the closing date.
I am not sure if I am in the Tourism South East area?
The TSE area covers Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Surrey, the Isle of Wight, Sussex or Kent. If your business is located in another area, details of others schemes can be found on the Visit England Awards website.
Will I win extra business if I win?
You certainly can, but please don’t sit back and expect the business to flow in. Winning an award gives you a great ‘tool’ and media story, and if used effectively in your own PR, social media and marketing, you should certainly expect to win new business. We’ll do all we can to help and suggest some of the tools you may consider using.
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