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Today, a brief tale of David and Goliath, this battle taking place within the web-wide travel industry at last night’s Condé Nast Traveller Readers Travel Awards, held at the very grand and grown-up Royal Institution of Great Britain. Mr & Mrs Smith were up for Best Travel Website.

After a couple of drinks, Mrs Smith and I sit in a packed auditorium with the great and the good of the travel world, all graciously clapping and cheering as award after award is dished out. We make a mental note to congratulate the dozens of Smith hotels who make the top-20 CNT readers’ hit lists in their respective corners of the world (14 out of the top 20 UK hotels in the Leisure Hotels category are in the Smith collection, eight out of 20 in Australia and South Pacific – more details to come in another post).

Then, suddenly, it’s the turn of our category. With clean underwear and crisply ironed shirt on and everything crossed, we listen to the top-10 countdown…


The suspense is now doing me serious damage, and I vow never to be rude about those frozen-smiley contenders at the Baftas again: it’s hard to maintain an expression that says ‘hopeful yet demure’ for this long.


My lord, maybe we didn’t even make to the top 10 – there are some pretty big names here – visions of a wooden spoon float through my mind…


Thinking it’s all over, I reach for my coat, then a lady walks in with the certificates for the winner and the runner up – yet more suspense, but I’ve resigned myself to the hope of maybe doing better next year. I swig back the last of my champagne and then…

CNT editor Sarah Miller announces Smith as the runner-up.

Wow/damn/oh great – mixed emotions run wild when I hear our name called. Chuffed we’re in the top 10 and gutted we got so close to the top spot; feeling now a little bit like the kid at school that got the prize for trying the hardest. But, once the winner is announced, we’re thrilled, especially when we reflect that Trip Advisor has 40 million visitors each month and we have 300,000.


So Goliath wins and David comes second, but at least we conquered a few other giants to secure our runner-up position, and that makes today a pretty good day in my book.

A huge thank you to everyone who voted for us – it genuinely means a hell of a lot – and thank you to our wonderful team who work their socks off every day. Thank you also to Condé Nast Traveller, mum, dad, cat, dog, etc. And well done, Trip Advisor: maybe we can swap places next year…

The October issue of Condé Nast Traveller, with the full list of award-winners and nominees, is out now.

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