Two major awards for Barrow hotel in toughest year for hospitality

The team at Barrow’s Holiday Inn Express has been recognised twice for its outstanding work during the toughest year the hospitality industry has ever faced.

The new 127-room hotel only opened in December 2019, four months before the UK went into lockdown for the first time.

Barrow's double award winning Holiday Inn Express

Barrow’s double award winning Holiday Inn Express

“In an area which is so dependent on contactors to keep vital industries and services running, we knew we had to do all we could to re-open for key workers as soon as we were allowed,” said general manager Mark Winter.

From its closure in March until its re-opening on 1 June the hotel not only introduced a new safety and cleaning regime, it also produced a special video providing vital information for guests to re-assure them before they arrived to check in.

Later in the summer it used videos and social media to encourage visitors to come to Barrow, and – in July and August – a staggering 10,000 decided to stay at the hotel for their Great British Staycation.

The effectiveness of the Holiday Inn’s campaigns has now resulted in two national awards.

It was given the Be Different award by RBH Hospitality Management – the management company responsible for more than 45 UK hotels – and a week later it won the category of “Best use of Digital Marketing to Promote Sales/Service” at the Springboard UK virtual awards.

Not only did it triumph against stiff competition from five-star Central London hotels, its fellow winners included some of the most iconic establishments in the capital – such as the Royal Lancaster and 45 Park Lane.

The virtual ceremony was hosted by TV’s Chaser Paul Sinha who said the Barrow team had delivered “outstanding work”.  Chris Gamm – the chief executive of Springboard, a charity supporting the UK’s hospitality industry – said: “Despite being faced with such adversity in 2020, the hospitality industry went above and beyond and deserves to be celebrated. All the winners have undertaken amazing work, achieving incredible results, despite the circumstances the sector has been faced with. Springboard are thrilled to be recognising them.”

General manager Mark Winter said much of the credit for the hotel’s awards was due to the imagination and creativity of marketing executive Robbie Gaffney.

Robbie, who works for the hotel owner Ashall Projects, said: “I joined the company just before lockdown so the requirements for the hotel changed very rapidly.  I’m really delighted that we’ve picked up these awards and I think they demonstrate the impact and effectiveness of digital marketing and the role videos have played throughout the pandemic in delivering vital information.”

Mark Ashall, of Ashall Projects – the developer and a shareholder of the Holiday Inn Express in Barrow, as well as the Holiday Inn Express in Middlesbrough – said: “Mark Winter, Robbie and the rest of the team deserve so much credit for the steps taken to keep the hotel in the public eye, during the most challenging of times for the hospitality industry, whilst always putting their guests at the heart of everything they do.”

Watch the hotel’s award-winning video at