From the managing editor
Awards are the lifeblood of the marketing strategy for many travel industry suppliers, with the Travel Daily Group receiving an unending procession of press releases from hoteliers and airlines breathlessly announcing a win in some scheme or other. We tend to take most of these with a grain of salt – and with good reason, as evidenced by a controversy surrounding the heavily promoted World Travel Awards. The World Travel Awards touts its credentials as “the Oscars of the travel industry” and claims that more than 600,000 people worldwide are “eligible to vote”. There are hundreds of categories which are announced at a series of regional gala dinners across the globe. However being part of the awards is simply a matter of self-nomination by suppliers, and becoming a finalist or a winner is an opaque process, with no clarity as to how many people actually vote, leading to questions as to whether winning a World Travel Award really means anything at all. A case in point was the 2015 World Travel Awards which saw ICC Berlin win the title of Europe’s Leading Meetings & Conference Centre – an interesting choice, given that the venue had been closed and inactive for more than twelve months, and is currently under redevelopment as a centre for Syrian refugees. Hawaii-based travel e-newsletter eturbonews, formerly a sponsor of the awards, highlighted a range of anomalies associated with the program, noting that many of the award winners also happened to purchase promotional packages with the World Travel Awards. The most recent World Travel Awards ceremony, which took place at the Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort in Morocco, also coincidentally saw Moroccan Minister of Tourism, Dr Lahcen Haddad, recognised for Outstanding Contribution to the Travel & Tourism Industry. And there was little surprise when the Mazagan property hosting the ceremony happened to be named the “World’s Leading Beach & Casino Resort”. eturbonews has urged suppliers to “be careful before investing money to secure awards… travel awards, when they are legitimate, should not cost a company or organisation money and mandatory marketing fees”. Travel Daily and travelbulletin have a policy of not editorially promoting any award wins unless they are part of a robust framework involving transparent voting and judging. Fortunately the strong processes behind AFTA’S annual National Travel Industry Awards, of which we are proud to be the official media sponsors, mean NTIA accolades are truly meaningful rather than just window-dressing.