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2020 Categories

Click on one of the categories below to find out more about the entry requirements.

There are categories for business, tourism groups and individuals operating at all levels of the north-east tourism industry. Our categories are aligned with the Scottish Thistle Awards scheme, with many regional winners going on to represent the area on the national stage.

Best Bar or Pub

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This award celebrates the key role of bars and pubs to the Aberdeen City and Shire visitor experience. Our licensed trade provides visitors with a wide variety of options - from bespoke evening cocktails with succulent bar bites overlooking a vibrant cityscape, to a relaxing post walk pint served with traditional fayre by the fire.

Whether your business attracts high fashion, cutting edge musicians/DJs or offers a comforting and friendly home from home to your guests, we are celebrating the diverse bar and pub offerings and all that they contribute within the tourism sector.

Who should enter:

If you consider your main activity is a bar or pub and pride yourself on providing exemplary customer service - this could be the category for you!

What the judges are looking for:

Judges will be looking for clear evidence within the time period from May 2019 - May 2020. Full entry criteria/guidance can be found for each question using the help section opposite each question on the entry form.

Outstanding Cultural Event or Festival

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Scotland is the Perfect Stage for events. From large scale events to local and community festivals, Scotland really knows how to put on a show! This category celebrates recurring events that are part of our ongoing tourism offering which include, inspire and involve all participants, whether local or visiting and provide a platform for Scotland to show off its greatest features.

Who should enter?

Organisers of established local, regional or international events of any size. Your event must be a recurring event as part of the ongoing tourism offering to enter. Events must have taken place within the time period from May 2019 - May 2020 with outcomes known at the time of submission.

What the judges are looking for:

Judges will be looking for clear evidence within the time period from May 2019 - May 2020. Full entry criteria can be found for each question using the guidance opposite each question on the entry form.

Please note, judges may choose to recognise appropriately large scale one off events for a Special Commendation.

Best Hotel Experience (under 20 rooms)

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Accommodation is a vital part of the visitor journey. The hotel experience is key to creating visitors' lasting impressions of Scotland and our world famous Scottish hospitality. This award recognises hotels or inns that strive to give the customer the most hospitable and comfortable experience while they enjoy their stay in Scotland.

Who should enter:

For hotels or inns with less than 20 bedrooms demonstrating exemplary levels of customer service and satisfaction and, most importantly, offer memorable and authentic hospitality.

What the judges are looking for:

Judges will be looking for clear evidence within the time period from May 2019 - May 2020. Full entry criteria can be found for each question using the guidance opposite each question on the entry form.

Best Hotel Experience (over 20 rooms)

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Accommodation is a vital part of the visitor journey. The hotel experience is key to creating visitors' lasting impressions of Scotland and our world famous Scottish hospitality. This award recognises hotels that strive to give the customer the most hospitable and comfortable experience while they enjoy their stay in Scotland.

Who should enter:

For hotels with more than 20 bedrooms demonstrating exemplary levels of customer service and satisfaction and, most importantly, offer memorable and authentic hospitality.

What the judges are looking for:

Judges will be looking for clear evidence within the time period from May 2019 - May 2020. Full entry criteria can be found for each question using the guidance opposite each question on the entry form.

Best Informal Eating Experience

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This category is designed to recognise and celebrate businesses who not only offer a quality food and drink experience, but include and promote local Scottish produce on their menus.

Who should enter?

In Scotland there are eateries to suit every occasion and budget. This award is for businesses that do not consider themselves a formal restaurant - food and hospitality in an informal setting is the focus!

Businesses may only enter one eatery category, either Best Informal Eating Experience or Best Restaurant Experience.

What the judges are looking for:

Judges will be looking for clear evidence within the time period from May 2019 - May 2020. Full entry criteria can be found for each question using the guidance opposite each question on the entry form.

Best Restaurant Experience

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This category is designed to recognise and celebrate restaurants who not only offer a quality food and drink experience, but include and promote local Scottish produce on their menus.

Who should enter?

Open to restaurants of any size and any culinary influence, this award is for restaurants that showcase the finest examples of excellent food service and customer experience in Scotland.

Businesses may only enter one eatery category, either Best Restaurant Experience or Best Informal Eating Experience.

What the judges are looking for:

Judges will be looking for clear evidence within the time period from May 2019 - May 2020. Full entry criteria can be found for each question using the guidance opposite each question on the entry form.

Best Outdoor or Adventure Experience

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Outdoor, adventure and wildlife experiences are a key part of what makes a visit to Scotland so unique and memorable. With a vast and varied landscape full of opportunity for adventure and excitement, there truly is an activity for every visitor. This category celebrates businesses that provide unforgettable, quality and authentic experiences to their visitors.

Who should enter?

Businesses large and small that provide outdoor, adventure and wildlife experiences and have a focus on delivering real customer satisfaction.

What the judges are looking for:

Judges will be looking for clear evidence within the time period from May 2019 - May 2020. Full entry criteria can be found for each question using the guidance opposite each question on the entry form.

Best Self-Catering Accommodation Experience

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This category celebrates businesses that provide fantastic and genuine emotional engagement with the visitor, whether online or in person, and an exceptional service. This award celebrates those providing a unique and bespoke accommodation experience to suit visitors' travel style, while still experiencing true Scottish hospitality.

Who should enter?

If you offer overnight accommodation but are not a hotel, inn, guest house or B&B – then this award is for you! Examples may include, but are not limited to: self-catering or serviced apartments, wigwams, campsites, caravan parks, campervan hire.

What the judges are looking for:

Judges will be looking for clear evidence within the time period from May 2019 - May 2020. Full entry criteria can be found for each question using the guidance opposite each question on the entry form.

Best Visitor Attraction Experience

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Scotland has a wealth of unique and fascinating visitor attractions, from castles and palaces to nuclear bunkers and famous pandas! This category celebrates the variety of opportunity provided to Scotland's visitors, and the attractions which provide world class service with a distinctive Scottish twist.

Who should enter:

For visitor attractions that demonstrate exemplary levels of customer service, customer satisfaction and a business commitment to hospitality. This category is open to visitor attractions of all types and sizes.

What the judges are looking for:

Judges will be looking for clear evidence within the time period from May 2019 - May 2020. Full entry criteria can be found for each question using the guidance opposite each question on the entry form.

Most Hospitable B&B or Guest House

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B&Bs and guest houses are at the front line of Scotland’s hospitality reputation and have the ability to provide a personal and memorable experience for every guest. This category celebrates going the extra mile to demonstrate heart-warming levels of customer service to every guest who steps through the door.

Who should enter:

Any business that considers itself a guest house or B&B and offers authentic and warm hospitality.

What the judges are looking for:

Judges will be looking for clear evidence within the time period from May 2019 - May 2020. Full entry criteria can be found for each question using the guidance opposite each question on the entry form.

Regional Ambassador

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People are the essence of the tourism industry and we all have a responsibility in shaping the future of our industry. People, with their commitment and passion for the industry are the critical success factors. In establishing this award we are looking to recognise these qualities in an individual who has dedicated their time and energy to tourism in their local area with a passion for the future of the industry.

Who should enter:

Individuals who go above and beyond to contribute to the development of tourism in their area with a passion for the future of tourism.

There is no age limit to this category.

Please note there is no self-entry for this category.

What the judges are looking for:

Judges will be looking for clear evidence within the time period from May 2019 - May 2020. Full entry criteria can be found for each question using the guidance opposite each question on the entry form.

Tourism & Hospitality Hero

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This category celebrates an individual on the front line of the customer service experience. Across Scotland, there are a huge number of people who unlock something special for every visitor - from tour guides to front of house staff - anyone who provides exceptional service and a memorable and personal touch.

Who should enter:

We have in mind tourism guides, front of house staff, drivers and receptionists - anyone who works on the front line of the tourism industry - so if you know a "service hero" in any appropriate role, please apply!

Please note there is no self-entry for this category.

What the judges are looking for:

Judges will be looking for clear evidence within the time period from May 2019 - May 2020. Full entry criteria can be found for each question using the guidance opposite each question on the entry form.

Working Together for Tourism

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This category celebrates partnerships, collaborations and team working. This is the category for tourism businesses (B2B and B2C) and travel trade with new and innovative campaigns or activity encouraging best practice, customer service and drive to offer a great and collaborative experience to every guest.

Who should enter:

This category is for community tourism, destination management organisations (B2B), tour operators, destination marketing companies, destination management companies, transport operators, retail and entertainment venues. If you believe that "tourism is everyone's business" - this might be the category for you!

What the judges are looking for:

Judges will be looking for clear evidence within the time period from May 2019 - May 2020. Full entry criteria can be found for each question using the guidance opposite each question on the entry form.