The 20th Irish Travel Trade Awards, announced and presented at last Friday night’s inaugural Irish Travel Industry Christmas Party at the Burlington Hotel, Dublin, were a great success and an exceptionally good atmosphere created in a beautifully decorated ballroom was enjoyed by all, writes Neil Steedman, News and Features Editor of Irish Travel Trade News.
Why do I say this? Because everyone else did! Here are some quotes typical of the many that I was given by the numerous industry principals who attended the event:
Justin Warby of Etihad Airways told me: “The night is a great success and everyone is enjoying themselves. It is also great to have won two awards for Best Long Haul Airline and Best Business Class Airline – we take pride in our service and it is wonderful to receive these peer nominations and they are a vindication of what we do. It is a team effort and we have all the team that were available here tonight. We have solid, hard workers – and I get to be the captain of the team, so it’s great!”
Declan Mescall of Irish Ferries echoed comments made by many attendees, telling me: “It was a brilliant evening, with great spirit and great camaraderie and is just what the travel trade needs at this time” and added: “Thanks again to the trade for voting us Best Ferry Company.”
Alan Sparling of SAS was in particularly good form: “This is an absolutely fabulous evening and is one of the best I have been to – I have met lots of people whom I haven’t seen for a while. Very well done to the ITTN team.”
Travel Counsellor Sherry Meagle told me: “I have really enjoyed the evening – apart from winning two tickets with Etihad Airways in the prize draw! – and I like the fact that the event is casual dress, which is much better.”
Garry Zancanaro of Worldchoice, Mary King of Travelsavers and Dominic Burke of Travel Centres were all enjoying the evening too and thought it was “a great night”.
Volker Lorenz of Amadeus was naturally pleased that his team had won two awards, Best Travel Technology Provider and Best Agent Friendly Supplier. “We are delighted at these strong signals of support from our customers, the Irish travel agents. We have had a very good year and our local support team has supported agencies in trying to get through this tough business climate. We are particularly delighted to have won the Best Agent Friendly Supplier award – this means a lot to us, as we also aim to work particularly closely with our agency partners.” (I think I later saw four bottles of champagne heading towards the Amadeus table!)
When the Best Niche Tour Operator award winner was announced I saw Sharon Jordan of One Stop Touring Shop literally jumping for joy (several times!). Later she told me: “I am shaking. No words as to what this win means to me and the team – and in our first year in business too! This is a brilliant evening – and now I am going to get some champagne!”
Jenny Rafter of RCL Cruises was also enjoying the evening and the award for Celebrity Cruises in the Best Cruise Company (5/6 Star) category: “This accolade highlights our valued working partnerships with agents and will help to drive bookings for the Celebrity Cruises brand in 2012. The multi-award winning Celebrity Solstice will offer a choice of Mediterranean/Venice or Greek Isles/Turkey sailings from Barcelona with its easy air connections from Dublin and we look forward to further exciting the market with Celebrity Reflection’s autumn launch.”
Two tour operators independently commented on the room décor. John Kinane of Thomas Cook Holidays said: “This is a good evening and the room looks really well – and it is nice to win the Best Sun Holiday Tour Operator award, particularly in the week that is in it!”
Christine Donnelly of Falcon/Thomson Holidays, added: “I am absolutely amazed by the buzz, the excitement and the great atmosphere that has been created, which shows the resilience of the travel trade. The room is tremendous – it looks really good. We are also absolutely amazed and thrilled to have won the Best Cruise Company (3/4 Star) award. This proves that there is a new, untapped resource in the industry. Cruising is an up and coming product, there is a lot more potential for growth, and this award will help us open up that potential.”
As I left (well, started to leave!) at 1.15am I looked back into the ballroom and dancers were still going strong, including Darach Culligan of Travelworld who was ‘Staying Alive’ along with the Bee Gees.