Judging is carried out by an independent panel of past winners, industry leaders and experts in their field, selected for their impartiality, experience and suitability for each category.
The initial judging will be based on the information provided on your entry form along with your website, social media and any third party sites. Each question will be scored, based on your answers; if a question is left blank you will not receive a score.
Judges will also be looking at your online presence, including how well this encourages visitors to come to the area in the first place, how they are inspired to choose your business, the information you provide, viewing on different media (tablets, smart phones etc), accessibility, social media, online reputation and reviews.
For 2021/22, judges will be looking for evidence of recent customer reassurance within their online presence as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This could be in the following forms:
- Accreditation (such as, but not limited to – VisitEngland’s ‘We’re Good to Go’; the AA’s ‘COVID-19 Confident’; Quality in Tourism’s ‘Safe, clean and legal’)
- Customer reassurance content on the website and/or social media
- Online reviews since April 2020 – ideally with examples of reassuring business responses
Selected businesses may be visited (mystery shopped where possible) by independent mystery shoppers. Please note that it is a requirement of entry that entrants agree to waive or refund the direct costs of a mystery visit should a mystery visit be arranged. The mystery visitor will present you with a letter of authorisation stating this after their visit, please advise your staff that this may happen to avoid confusion. Receipt of your entry is taken as agreement to this requirement.
Businesses will be notified if they are a finalist or not.
The winners, normally a combination of Gold, Silver and Bronze awards per category, will be announced at the awards ceremony.
The decision on which entries receive awards will be taken by a judging panel which will consider mystery shop reports, websites and other available evidence. Their decision will be based on the evidence available at the time and will be final. The timing of the process means there can be no appeal process for the current year’s awards. Should any entrant consider that inaccurate evidence has been considered as part of the judging they should raise this with the awards coordinator at the earliest possible stage; such appeals may be taken into account in judging for the subsequent year.
All entrants will receive summary feedback, with additional feedback available for a fee.
Eligible winners will be 'fast-tracked' into corresponding categories of the South West Tourism Excellence Awards and from these may be selected to represent the area in the national VisitEngland Awards.