Over 100 exhibitors greeted the Irish travel trade at the inaugural ITAA Irish Travel Industry Trade Show at the Citywest Hotel, Co Dublin.
Following a great day of golf, sponsored by Shannon Airport, day two started with the Irish Travel Agents Association AGM. Martin Skelly was re-elected President and Des Manning of Manning Travel, was re-elected as Treasurer. Other appointments to the board were: Cormac Meehan, Meehan Travel; Ben Greene, Arrow Tours; Valerie Metcalfe, FCm Travel Solutions; Rory McDyer, Rory McDyer Travel; Jim McGonigle, Clondalkin Travel; Angela Walsh, CTM; Joe Tully, Tully Travel; and Clare Dunne, The Travel Broker.
Speaking at the AGM, Martin Skelly, continuing President, said: “I am delighted to have been elected President of the ITAA for a second year and I look forward to continuing my work in this busy but rewarding role. My aim is to build on progress made in recent years to strengthen consumer confidence and ensure that all of our member travel agencies are recognised for their expertise, dedication and knowledge.”
It was revealed that Spain, Portugal and Italy are the most popular holiday destinations for Irish holiday makers to visit in summer 2015, according to the latest ITAA quarterly survey. Italy climbed two places since the same period in 2014 to claim the third spot, knocking the USA down into fourth place. When asked about the biggest travel trends in 2015 so far, agents were in agreement that all-inclusive cruises and river cruises have seen a huge surge in popularity. The survey also revealed that over 60% of all bookings utilise dynamic packaging, a method used in package holiday bookings to enable consumers to build their own bundle of flights, accommodation, and car rental instead of purchasing a pre-defined package.
Speaking at launch of the first annual Irish Travel Trade Show, Pat Dawson, ITAA Chief Executive, said: “In recent years travel agents have completely redefined their role in the travel industry to the point where I would now consider them mini tour operators. Any member of the public can walk into their local travel agents and have a dedicated professional create a customised package exclusively to suit their needs. They are the personal shoppers of the travel world, searching for the best flights, hotels and destinations to match the customer’s exact budget and desires. I am delighted to see that agents are continuing to see growth as the industry picks up again following the downturn. I hope that in the coming years many more will discover the great value and service that Irish travel agents are offering.”
Following the AGM travel agents and suppliers were treated to motivational workshops on mindfulness, nutrition and exercise. All three presentations were given by top industry coaches, including Operation Transformation’s Karl Henry. ITTN spoke with attendees afterwards and all talks were very well received and of a much higher standard than anticipated. We all went away with tips on how to relax, how to improve our diet and how to exercise without going to the gym! The attendees were encouraged to bring these tips back to the office with them to help create a more relaxed and focused working environment.
Feeling energised, we were able to meet and greet the exhibitors – all 100 of them! Yes it was a huge gathering from suppliers at home and abroad and a fantastic set-up in the large exhibition area of Citywest. The feeling by most was that the day itself was very well organised but lacked enough support from travel agents. Although in the latter half of the afternoon the stands were quite busy, this showcase event should have attracted a much larger crowd. It is difficult for owners to allow staff leave the office at any time but in this case it would have been worth it. It really was a great show and overall a success, but hopefully in the future it will attract more agency staff.
However, a large crowd arrived for the evening entertainment and BBQ sponsored by Sunway and Mark Warner, where agents and suppliers chatted and danced until the small hours.
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