Hospitality Assured Director Max Lawrence on Why entering and winning awards can speak a thousand words for your business.

The glitz, the glamour and of course the champagne – attending awards should be something we can all be excited about; but entering, and of course winning, should be considered a business decision rather than just an opportunity for a jolly, it is also a great team engagement tool.

As assessors for Hospitality Assured, my colleagues and I are often asked about our opinions on what to enter, when and how to make the most of being shortlisted. The truth is that awards are an excellent way to promote your hospitality offering and there are ways to maximise your chances.

One of the most important things to consider is that you should pick and choose your entries – trying to enter and win everything is unwise, expensive and a waste of your time.  Doing some research on awards that will support the ethos of your business should be your first task and don’t be afraid to ask others for some guidance too. Research can help you discover those awards that can truly promote your hard work to an audience that matters; your customers. Winning an award for your incredible customer service will say more than you ever could in a 10-minute presentation but entering less business-critical awards will only water down that effect – and it will be quite costly too, both financially and time-wise!

Another piece of advice we often offer up when it comes to awards is focussing on something the business is passionate about and will make a positive impression on your reputation. For example, is your business passionate about being Green? Then a focus on CSR (corporate social responsibility) awards may be the path to take. It comes down to picking your awards carefully and without doubt research can help with this. Perhaps annually the business can agree a strategic focus and therefore a solid marketing strategy can be built around it. What you are entering is almost as important as what you have won.

Often when entering awards, you will be asked to showcase or provide examples of the work you have done in that particular field. It’s times like this that case studies and testimonials come into their own but it’s important that, however you do it, you are following through and making a difference in the business and communicating effectively with your customers. Carefully consider if you show clear evidence of your submissions in your daily business.  If a judge, visiting as a mystery guest, finds it challenging to see evidence of the information that you have submitted then that could determine how much, or little, success you have.   Many of those who we work with at Hospitality Assured are clearly focussed on delivering great food and service so if you’re sourcing locally then why not shout about it on menus or social media? The more momentum you can generate the better your entry will be and it has the added effect of showcasing the businesses’ passions and beliefs. Don’t forget these examples of your good work and success stories can also be used elsewhere as content including blogs, press releases and columns as well as in your evidence pack for Hospitality Assured!  It all helps to promote your business.

My last thought would be that interaction, be it through social media or face-to-face, with your customers when it comes to entering awards is essential. Get them involved in the process and not only will that help strengthen the award entry but it also improves your relationship with them. Customer service is so much more than providing something they expect – it’s about giving them something positive they wouldn’t otherwise expect and entering or attending awards is a great way to do just that. There are plenty more awards applications open for 2017 –  look out for tips in entering awards by following Hospitality Assured on Twitter @HospAssured