Austin receives accolade

Too late to book a place at the sell-out routeONE Awards gala presentation evening, Scottish operator Austin Travel missed out on one of the biggest events in its 50-year history.

However, courtesy of event partner Mercedes-Benz, the family-owned business is now able proudly display the trophy and certificate that go with the accolade of Small Coach Operator of the Year 2016.

Douglas Austin, Ian Wallace and Barry Austin

Maintaining its reputation as an event of unrivalled status, the routeONE Awards is held for the industry, recognising the highest level of excellence within the industry.

The black-tie event – held in the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel’s Monarch Suite earlier this month – was geared to ensure that everyone had an enjoyable evening, with celebrity TV personality Steph McGovern as the presenter, while co-presenter and comedian Marcus Brigstocke providing the entertainment.

However, the winners of the 16 award categories remain a closely guarded secret, preserving the suspense surrounding the naming of those recognised and rewarded for being the industry’s best. Among this year’s 11 new names was Austin Travel based in Earlston 30 miles south of Edinburgh.

But, as the winner of the prestigious Small Coach Operator of the Year category was announced nobody from the company was able to be present because when they applied for tickets the event was already sold out.

There are 16 categories and the results are a closely guarded secret until announced at the gala presentation evening, ensuring that the air of tension and excitement is held throughout the evening.

However, Mercedes-Benz offered to deliver the trophy and certificate to Earlston and the presentation by Senior Manager Sales Ian Wallace to brothers Douglas and Barry Austin took place on Monday (21 November).

Austin Travel, trading as Scotline Tours/AT Travel, was started by Alec Austin in 1966 in Melrose, moving to Earlston 10 years later. It now has 10 coaches and is run by his sons Douglas and Barry. This year they relocated to larger premises vacated by a car dealership, providing the company with generous space for parking, workshops and office accommodation. It also has a busy office on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.