19 June, 2020

Receiving an award can build your reputation and boost your business, bringing great benefits to small and rural tourism operators…

It can be easy to think that awards are just for the big players, that, if you are a small tourism business, awards are out of your league, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

That’s certainly the case for Felicity Brown of Hoe Grange Holidays, a specialist accommodation provider in the Peak District. What started out as a small-scale diversification project to create a revenue stream for an ailing dairy farm has grown to become a multi award-winning business.

“I never thought that when we started on this journey, we would win any awards, never mind national awards,” says Felicity who has racked up over 30 national and local awards since starting the business in 2006.

The key to Felicity and husband Dave’s success is in finding niche markets to expand into, and, most importantly listening to – and acting on – customer feedback.  

The couple moved into the world of tourism in 2006 with the arrival of two log cabins on their farm on the edge of the Peak District. One of these provided fully accessible and wheel-chair-friendly facilities. And, to Felicity’s surprise, was the cabin that always got booked up first.

“Nobody else was catering for the disabled market in the area at the time, so we evolved the business and access became an important part of that going forward,” says Felicity. “From guests’ feedback, we brought in extra equipment and in 2010 and 2011, put up two further log cabins. In these we introduced more accessible features and upped the level of access and equipment.”

It was this specialist provision that gained Hoe Grange its first tourism awards and in 2011 the company won a major Access for All award, fielding off competition from the likes of Cadbury World and Coniston Music Hall.

From here, Hoe Grange began to get a reputation for accessibility and the awards kept coming. But this wasn’t the only niche market that Felicity and Dave were servicing. They had also built up a reputation for sustainability, introduced glamping pods and a traditional gypsy caravan for the younger market, and advertised bring your own horse and dog-friendly stays.

This broadened their appeal and inevitably, led to even more awards, most recently, in March this year, with a Gold for accessible and inclusive tourism, Gold in the Ethical and Sustainable category and Silver in the Camping and Glamping category at the Visit Peak District awards.

Keeping in touch with guests, asking for and acting on feedback, and providing excellent customer services has always played a big part in the success of Hoe Grange and this can also pay off when it comes to awards season. Last year, they were nominated by satisfied guests and made it to one of just five finalists in the UK for Accessible Tourism at a major national awards ceremony. 

Here are Felicity’s tips for entering awards and making them work for your business:

  1. Get the right fit: be careful about how you select the award you enter. It’s about looking at awards that are appropriate to your sector and will provide you with some good PR. Don’t waste time on awards that are not appropriate or that you don’t have a good fit with.
  2. Don’t be afraid to try: don’t think that your business is too small or too rural. But start small and you’ll see it’s not as difficult as you think. Answer the question the awards poeple are asking and provide evidence, and don’t be afraid to give financial information too.
  3. Make the most of the PR: different awards give different levels of PR. For example, after the Visit England award in 2011, we got a ¾ page feature in the ‘Daily Mail’ which was amazing. But some awards don’t get you as much PR.
  4. Access the network: as well as gaining PR for your business, entering awards gives you access to a network of other successful businesses. Rather than seeing these as the competition, you can start working with them – think of it is as community over competition.
  5. Build your reputation: being nominated, winning or even making it to the finalists of an award scheme helps to build your reputation. You can increase this further by sending out press releases at a local level which filter up to a national level. From here you might start to get picked out and recognised by national papers. PR is also about having the right contacts so it can also be helpful to use a PR company to help gain access to key journalists and media.

To see more about Felicity and Dave’s award-winning business, visit hoegrangeholidays.co.uk

Show Notes: Hoe Grange

How to use awards to market your tourism business

Receiving an award can build your reputation and boost your business, bringing great benefits to small and rural tourism operators…

Receiving an industry award can boost your reputation and gain valuable PR for your tourism business – that’s the message from Felicity Brown of Hoe Grange Holidays who runs a multi award-winning accommodation business in the Peak District.

According to Felicity, you can’t be too small or too rural to enter for an award. And if you just give it a go, the benefits can be outstanding.

Listen to this podcast for her tips on how to go about entering your tourism business for an award and the benefits it can bring.

What we discuss:

  • Why you need to choose the appropriate awards for your sector
  • How to go about entering an award
  • Why you should be writing your own press releases
  • What benefits awards can bring to your business

What you will learn:

  • The value of acting on customer feedback
  • Why it pays to keep in touch with your guests
  • How you can maximise PR from awards
  • How to build in your reputation

To see more about Felicity and Dave’s award-winning business, visit hoegrangeholidays.co.uk