Services for Tourism Ltd is celebrating its 10th birthday with a national award and the appointment of a new Director.
The company was formed by Robin Barker in 2008 on his departure from the former regional tourism board, South West Tourism, where he had been Marketing Director and Deputy Chief Executive for the previous 5 years, responsible for membership, quality, training, commercial partnerships and tourism awards.
Robin was keen to offer a wide range of services to the tourism industry, and especially to develop the awards into a year-round quality development programme for tourism through closer links with other industry sectors. At the time the South West regional awards attracted around 100 entries each year, with a focus on an awards event and limited media coverage.
In the 10 years since launch, Services for Tourism has developed the tourism awards into a major year round operation, attracting over 750 entries across Southern England in 2017, with linked schemes in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Bristol, Bath & Somerset, alongside the regional awards for the South West and South East. This has been in parallel with long-standing relationships with over 40 sponsors, many of who have remained involved since the company was formed.
The business has also launched and developed the West Country Tourism Conference, now the largest regional tourism industry conference, held at Westpoint each spring. It has also handled parts of the South West Regional Growth Fund project, has worked with VisitEngland on a marketing plan for the 2012 Olympics, has been active in training and consultancy and has spoken at national and international conferences.
When not running the business, Robin is also President of Tourism Management Institute (TMI), a Board Director of the Tourism Alliance, a spokesperson for the South West Tourism Alliance and is a founding Director of VisitDevon. In 2017 he was awarded the prestigious ‘Outstanding Contribution to Tourism’ award at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards.
Services for Tourism has worked in partnership with several other businesses through its 10 years, with increasing involvement of Nell Barrington who now has a central role in planning and delivery of all company activities, leading on the tourism awards in Somerset and the South East. Nell is also the Regional Representative of TMI and from 1 May joins Robin as a Director and shareholder of the business.
A culmination of 10 years of development was the success of the company in the 2018 ‘AwardsAwards’, in which Services for Tourism was presented the Bronze award in the category of ‘Best Regional Awards’ in London on Friday 27 April.
Robin Barker said: “The last ten years have been the most enjoyable and productive of my working life. It has been great to see a concept turn into reality and success, but most importantly the feedback we’ve received from hundreds of businesses tells us that we’ve made a difference to people’s lives and business success. That, for me and for Nell, is the top motivator and I’m delighted to welcome Nell to be an official part of the team.”
Nell Barrington added: “It is great to be associated with a company that is so focussed on driving up quality and excellence in the tourism industry and has been fantastic getting to know and work with so many truly great tourism businesses.”
The 2018/19 Tourism Awards are currently open for entry, with a parallel programme of Excellence Workshops being held across the South West.