The winner of this year’s Irish Travel Industry Entrepreneur of the Year Award is Blue Insurances. The judging panel comprised Catherine Grennell-Whyte, representing the Association of Foreign Airlines; Liam Lonergan, Managing Director of Club Travel, last year’s award winner; Ronan Flood, Managing Editor of Irish Travel Trade News; and independent, non-voting Chairman, Stephen Murray of Grant Thornton.
Announcing the result, Ronan Flood, said: “The Irish Travel Industry Entrepreneur of the Year Award places emphasis on entrepreneurial acumen and skills, product innovation, and proven service to the Irish travel industry. Initially each member of the judging panel put forward three nominees for consideration. We then discussed these nominations and short-listed three finalists – Blue Insurances, BookaBed, and CarTrawler.
“A brief questionnaire prepared by Grant Thornton and approved by the three judges was then sent to each finalist. Their responses were then marked separately by the judges using an agreed weighted scoring system. These results were then independently and confidentially collated by Grant Thornton, and an overall winner determined.”
Ciaran Mulligan, Joint Managing Director of Blue Insurances with Rowan Devereux, said: “We are delighted to accept this Award, which comes as a great surprise because our fellow finalists have been doing great things.
“Blue Insurances opened for business in October 2003 and our very first award was an Irish Travel Trade Award in January 2004. While we have recently been expanding overseas, into the UK and Australia, our hearts are still here with the Irish and Northern Irish travel trade and so this award means a lot to us.”
The Three Finalists
Blue Insurances, when established in 2003 by Joint Managing Directors Ciaran Mulligan and Rowan Devereux, initially focused on the travel insurance market through the travel trade. It has since grown to be a leading supplier not only of travel insurance but also of car hire excess insurance, motor breakdown cover, pet and gadget insurance, and wedding insurance.
In 2005 a Cardiff office was opened and operations began within the UK and Northern Ireland travel trade, in 2006 a new distribution arm began developing online white label booking sites, and in 2007 Blue Insurances started developing the other insurance products listed above. The company also arranges insurance bonding, travel agents/tour operators office, liability and professional indemnity insurance.
BookaBed.ie is Ireland’s largest accommodation wholesaler and prides itself on great rates and great service. The company’s new and improved website has all the features and functionality that travel agents need when dynamically packaging exactly what their clients require. The accommodation stock includes clients’ favourite properties in the most popular cities, in beach destinations such as Lanzarote, Tenerife, Egypt and Turkey, in city break destinations such as Paris, Rome, London, and Prague, and further a field destinations including the USA, Mexico, the Caribbean, Far East and Australia.
BookaBed.ie was launched in 2006 by Karl Tyrrell and Jackie Clynch and since then has seen significant growth, achieved on the back of hard work, continual investment in technology and great support from the Irish travel trade.
CarTrawler is the first company to provide a next-generation car rental distribution system, specialising solely in car rental solutions, enabling increased revenues for its customers and suppliers. The company offers the largest selection of car rental options from over 550 leading and independent car rental suppliers in 171 countries in 30,000 city and airport locations, in 30 languages, quoting in multiple currencies, through the customer’s existing website and brand identity, ensuring high levels of consumer conversion, repeat bookings and brand protection.
CarTrawler’s target customers include airlines, accommodations, online travel agents, information websites, travel and transportation sites, and retail travel agents. The company’s award-winning travel technology and car rental expertise has been proven globally with a large number of international airlines and online customers. CarTrawler also works with technology partners, including Datalex and SITA, who resell the technology to the airline industry.