Liam Lonergan of Club Travel Wins Inaugural ‘Irish Travel Industry Entrepreneur of the Year’

Liam Lonergan of Club Travel Wins Inaugural ‘Irish Travel Industry Entrepreneur of the Year’

Liam Lonergan of Club Travel was last night declared the ‘Irish Travel Industry Entrepreneur of the Year’ in the award scheme introduced this year by the Association of Foreign Airlines, the Irish Tour Operators Federation, and ‘Irish Travel Trade News’.

The Award was presented at the inaugural Irish Travel Industry Christmas Party, endorsed by the three Irish travel agents’ consortia – Travel Centres, Travelsavers and Worldchoice – and attended by 300 representatives of the Irish travel industry. The three finalists for the Award were CarTrawler, Club Travel and Clubs to Hire.

Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Liam Lonergan of Club Travel, recipient of the Irish Travel Industry Entrepreneur of the Year Award (centre) with Philip Airey, Irish Tour Operators Federation; Catherine Grennell-Whyte, Association of Foreign Airlines; Stephen Murray, Grant Thornton; and Ronan Flood, Irish Travel Trade News.

Earlier this month Club Travel celebrated its 40th anniversary. The company, which was established by Liam Lonergan in 1971, initially traded as a tour operator, and is the original Irish specialist in consolidated, cheap and discount airfares.

Club Travel has since grown to be the largest travel management company in Ireland, currently with 125 staff and with a mix of business including consolidation, retail, corporate travel management, and brands such as HRG Ireland, Budget Travel and Destinations.

Ronan Flood, Managing Editor of Irish Travel Trade News, said: “We are delighted that the Irish travel industry has come together for this inaugural event and that the two major supplier organisations, the Association of Foreign Airlines and the Irish Tour Operators Federation, have joined us in selecting the very first ‘Irish Travel Industry Entrepreneur of the Year’. The ITTN team congratulates Liam Lonergan and all his team at Club Travel on their success.”

Ireland’s Favourite Travel Agent

The event, held in the Burlington Hotel, Dublin, also saw Blackrock, Co Dublin based travel agency Sunway Travel again voted ‘Ireland’s Favourite Travel Agent’ in the award scheme organised by ‘Irish Travel Trade News’ and launched by host Ryan Tubridy on RTÉ’s The Late Late Show on 21st October. Votes were cast online by the travelling public all over Ireland and nominations were independently audited by Grant Thornton.

Tanya Airey, Managing Director of Sunway Travel, was present to receive the prize of a trip for two to Chiang Mai and Phuket in Thailand, courtesy of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas.

20th Irish Travel Trade Awards

The Sunway Group also won one of the 22 Irish Travel Trade Awards presented at last night’s event, being voted ‘Best Long Haul Tour Operator’ by retail travel agents throughout Ireland, North and South.

Two companies each won two awards: Etihad Airways ‘Best Long Haul Airline’ and ‘Best Business Class Airline’, while Amadeus was awarded ‘Best Travel Technology Provider’ and the new category of ‘Best Agent Friendly Supplier’.

The ‘Best Airline to Europe’ Award was won by Aer Lingus and United was voted ‘Best Airline to North America’. Spain was declared the ‘Best Sun Destination’, Australia won the Award for ‘Best Asia / Pacific Destination’, and Thomas Cook Holidays was voted ‘Best Sun Holiday Tour Operator’.

All travel agents who submitted valid voting forms were entered into a prize draw and the winner of the Travel Agents Voters Prize of a holiday for two in Malta, courtesy of the Malta Tourism Authority, was Gearoid Lynch of Mallow Travel.



Irish Travel Industry Entrepreneur

of the Year:                                                 Liam Lonergan, Club Travel

Ireland’s Favourite Travel Agent:             Sunway Travel

Travel Agent Voter of the Year:                  Gearoid Lynch, Mallow Travel


Best Europe Destination:                               Spain

Best North America Destination:                New York

Best Middle East / Africa Destination:      Dubai

Best Asia / Pacific Destination:                  Australia


Best Sun Holiday Tour Operator:               Thomas Cook Holidays

Best Ski Tour Operator:                                 Topflight

Best Niche Tour Operator:                           One Stop Touring Shop

Best Long Haul Tour Operator:                  Sunway


Best Airline to Europe:                                 Aer Lingus

Best Airline to North America:                   United

Best Long Haul Airline:                               Etihad Airways

Best Business Class Airline:                       Etihad Airways


Best Ferry Company:                                   Irish Ferries

Best Cruise Company (3/4 Star):              Thomson Cruises

Best Cruise Company (5/6 Star):              Celebrity Cruises

Best Leisure Car Rental Company:           Holiday Autos

Best Business Car Rental Company:       Hertz

Best Resort Transfer Company:                Holiday Taxis

Best Accommodation Provider:      

Best National Tourist Office:                    Spanish Tourism Office

Best Travel Technology Provider:             Amadeus

Best Agent Friendly Supplier:                    Amadeus

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NEIL STEEDMAN has been a trade journalist, copywriter, editor and proofreader for 50 years, and News & Features Editor for ‘Irish Travel Trade News’ for the past 40 years.

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