After winning Best Use of Technology last year, The Cateys asked me back to help pick this year’s winner. The Cateys celebrates the achievements of the best people, places and businesses in the hospitality industry, and takes place each year at Grosvenor House in Mayfair, London.
I won the award in 2016 with my client M Restaurants, after I implemented our ‘clever use of disruptive leading-edge technology’ in the form of a Choose Your Table feature on mrestaurants.co.uk (more on this here).
Award ceremonies are a dime a dozen in London. I’ve been to a lot of dos, especially in the creative and publishing industry, at some of which as many as 50 awards are handed out. They’re long evenings, and with that many awards it’s sometimes tempting to think that the judging process isn’t really taken seriously, and not much care actually goes into picking the winner.
What I got to experience in April was how judging an award like this works, and how wrong I was about the process. The criteria for winning a Catey is seriously tough. There were nine of us on the panel, consisting of industry experts and ex-winners. And we had eleven award entries to whittle down to one, almost every one of which had submitted a hefty entry essay and supporting documents.
It’s a lengthy process, and winning the award is no small feat. Not just because the number of other entrants is high, but the judging has a high level of scrutiny, and as we went around room and discussed each entrant in detail, I couldn’t help but feel proud for winning the previous year.
After a very spirited (and enjoyable) debate, we narrowed down to a shortlist and finally a winner, with a show of hands. You can read about the eventual winner, Pizza Express here, who implemented a Facebook Chat Bot to handle their social reservation system. I was lucky enough to be quoted in the article…
“The team spotted a gap in the customer experience and empowered the user, all under an impossibly tight timeframe and a minuscule budget.”
…how great is that!? And to top the whole thing off, I was invited to attend the awards ceremony and dinner in Mayfair with my wife Laura.