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Awards Submissions… are they worth it?

Natalie Bramble, Chair of Judges NSW Tourism Awards &

Lori Modde, Judge NSW Tourism Awards

17 Nov 2022

Businesses tell me they spend hundreds of hours on their Tourism Awards submissions and if they have only entered one or twice they follow up with a question, ‘why do I bother?’ I reply with a very calm response, “Well, that is something you need to answer as it is your time you are investing, but I ask you to go and speak to the businesses that just took out the gold and ask them how many times they entered before winning or more importantly what they get from the awards… and I bet you it’s not just the trophy received on the night, or the 4 hours of celebration on the awards night”.

Its true, the Tourism Awards are not your average awards, they are quite strenuous in its processes to enter. Back in the day, pre online submission (now I’m showing my age), the submissions were limited to 30 A4 pages and attachments. Not a small submission by any level. Now, the 10,000 words entered online, might be easier in application but not in compilation. The questions asked are strategic and help businesses respond to areas that are crucial for success in tourism and as businesses they need to contemplate their responses carefully. Through the submission, time and time again, they are prompted to think about how the business could do better in these areas.

As a judge in these awards, for quite a few years (not telling how many), its it’s hard not to proud of every entrant that goes through the submission process. The arduous task of sitting down, reflecting on the year that was and how it balanced against the plans you had at the start of the year. Sounds easy? Please give it go and let me know if you want to give up at question 3c…which is the average mark where a submission loses steam. There are 5 sections.

My tips for entrants may seem simple enough…

1. make the submission flow and keep relating it back to your business plan so it’s not disjointed and shows strategic consideration.

2. if you make a claim follow up with evidence or data to verify. Judges need to know you evaluate your results and that it’s not just an unsubstantiated claim.

3. for goodness sake, to prevent judge frustration overload as well as maximising your score, answer the questions. Take note of the ‘tips’ they are there for a reason, not just to be difficult. Scores are awarded accordingly.

4. tourism is about ‘experiences’, it’s amazing how many submissions you can read without understanding what the experience actually is… show your product personality, how you create your experience and the connection with audiences and what they take away.

And the most important tip of all…being finalist is an achievement, it means you have achieved great things already. But winners win for reasons that are often more than just how you respond to questions. They will have articulated their responses well of course, but it is the activities, the results and connection to strategy that sets them apart. So don’t take a finalist position as a loss… take it as a mark of success and a benchmark of which to maintain and the placings are a level to aspire too with your activities and considerations in following years.

As I talk with entrants over multiple years, they often reflect on the awards process as a system that helped them grow and develop. Watching somewhat ‘green’ entrants bloom over the years, not just in their submission but in their business, is incredibly rewarding as a judge.

As much as I would love to claim that it’s owed to the well thought out, time consuming comments entered by the judges on each applicants question, I think its it’s 70% structure of process and 30% to the judges feedback. None the less, we’ll take it, as we, us judges, see it as a way to give back, help support businesses in tourism and grow the tourism industry.

2022 NSW Tourism Awards Judges with Minister Henskens



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