In sectors as crowded and competitive as hospitality and events, it’s vital to make your brand stand out at every opportunity. Working with the press and influencers, utilising special discounts and developing an engaging social media presence are all ways to burnish your business and attract customers. Another method every employer should consider is entering into industry awards; for several reasons, it’s a sensible decision ripe with benefits and opportunities.

It gives you the chance to consider your brand positioning. In the awards application process, you’ll have to divulge information such as how long your business has been running, its finances, its successes in the last year and why it deserves to win a prize. This gives you the chance to step back and ask important questions: where do I stand in the market? Who are my competitors? Have I actively weighed up my strengths and weaknesses? You can also grasp your brand’s subtleties – its distinctive features, how it maintains high standards – which may not always be on your mind in the day-to-day management. There are resources you can utilise to ensure you submit a strong entry which does your business justice, such as branding experts and copywriters.

If you reach the nomination stage based on a decent application, you’ll be able to attend an awards ceremony, creating the prospect of networking with a variety of hospitality and events professionals. You can meet competitors in your field, trade contact details with potential suppliers, market your brand to interested individuals and leave a positive, personal impression; there are a host of opportunities to grasp. There are also a few considerations. You may have to pay hundreds of pounds or more to attend a function, plus transport and other costs; if your finances are tight then it might be a difficult call. Ensure you have business cards and an idea of what you want to communicate to others on the night. Also, remember there can be a lot of alcohol flowing- make sure you don’t overdo it!

If you end up winning an award then that in itself is a victory. You can add it to your marketing materials, use it to draw attention from the press, share it over social media, express it to clients and show off to customers. You’re markedly a step above the competition- congratulations. However, even if you’re nominated and don’t win, you can still use it to your advantage; you’ve demonstrated a drive to achieve, you’ve met other players in your sector and have a better sense of where your business is positioned, all with a manageable amount of work. So what are you waiting for? Get applying!

Here are some upcoming awards with key dates to consider:

Midlands Food Drink & Hospitality Awards

Launch event – Monday 26th March

Nominations close – Monday 23rd April

Shortlist announced – Friday 27th April

Voting open – Friday 27th April

Voting close – Thursday 31st May

Judging day – Wednesday 6th June

Awards ceremony – Monday 25th June


AEO Excellence Awards

Extended submission deadline – Friday 23rd March (accepted up until Monday 2nd April)

Shortlist announced – Friday 20th April

Awards lunch – Friday 15th June

Institute of Hospitality Awards

Entries open – Thursday 5th April

Entries close – Friday 18th May (5PM)

Judging occurs – Monday 21st May

Finalists announced – Wednesday 23rd May

Winners announced – Tuesday 19th June

Restaurant & Bar Design Awards

Entries open – Monday 8th January

Entries close – Sunday 15th April

Shortlist announced – Thursday 14th June

Awards ceremony – Thursday 4th October

Event Technology Awards

Entries open – Tuesday 3rd April

Entries close – Thursday 31st May

Awards ceremony – Wednesday 7th November 2018

Do you own an award winning business? Have you entered into any contests? What are some worthy awards to enter in to? Let us know on Twitter: @syftgroup