HomeFeaturesEpisode 10: ITTN Talks To… Shandon Travel's Manager, Danielle O'Keeffe

Episode 10: ITTN Talks To… Shandon Travel’s Manager, Danielle O’Keeffe

In our latest instalment of ITTN Talks, we caught up with Danielle O’Keeffe, branch manager at Shandon Travel, Cork!

In this ongoing series, ITTN speaks to members of the travel trade and gives them a platform to talk about industry trends, to celebrate successes and discuss challenges their business has faced, offering unrivalled insights into the goings on of Irish travel agents.

How has 2024 been for your business so far?

Business has been slowly progressing since January. January to March was generally business as normal but there was a lull nearing the end of March up until present. The demand for travel is out there, so hopefully the bookings for the later half of the year or even 2025 will start soon.

What has been your biggest surprise this year?

The price of things has been the biggest surprise. As mentioned above, the demand is there for travelling but it is the prices of the flights especially that is putting potential clients off. For example, flights to the Canary Islands at Christmas are approx. €800 – 900 per person. Upon checking, flights to Miami are cheaper for the same travel period.

What has been the biggest challenge to your business this year?

Trying to compete or price match with the likes of online agents. Clients are looking online for the best cheapest holiday package, but some are cautious to book online as they do not get the human interaction and advice but still want you to give them the offer that they saw online.

Do you have any predictions or are you seeing patterns or emerging trends or destinations for 2024?

I see an increase in more long – haul than short haul travel as it is more cost efficient and worth the money to go to the likes of the States or the Caribbean than it is to travel to Europe. Cruises are always a great seller, but more and more people are now realizing that it is well worth the money to cruise rather than a standard package holiday as you wake up somewhere different every day. If you want to get off and experience different cultures and activities you can and if you just want to chill and do nothing, you can do that too. You have the best of both when it comes to cruising.

Are you seeing longer lead times or last-minute requests?

It is a mixture of both, to be honest! You’ll always get the clients that will call and say ‘’have you anything last minute to go out at the weekend’’ and then you have the other side of the scale where clients are trying to book 12 months in advance to get the good deals.

On a more personal note, what motivates your travel? New cultures/ sun worship/ exotic cuisine/ places of historical importance/ pure relaxation?

As cliche as it sounds, it is to “see the world”! Yes, you can learn about the destinations from the internet, or you can “see” places on tv etc. But nothing beats experiencing it in real life. To be honest I never really went on holiday that took in culture or historical places. I would have always based my holiday on pure relaxation, sun and not much exploring or moving around. But since starting in the industry almost 10 years ago I have expanded my horizons and now try to holiday in new places.

What is your dream holiday, and why?

My dream trip and something I plan on doing before I am 30, would be to travel around the Southern States of America. Taking in places like Savannah, Charleston, Nashville, Memphis, Tennessee & New Orleans and so on. I am big into my country music so it is a must for me. It was something that played in my house every day of the week growing up! I also love the history and culture so I would love to be able to go and experience it all. Also, Southern food is a favourite of mine so to combine it all together and you’ve got an unforgettable holiday.

Where is 2024 taking you?

Hopefully on some amazing adventure trips! I would really love to do a few city break throughout the year to add to my travel list. The more I travel the globe, the more in-depth knowledge I will have to give my clients the best advice and recommendations. And if there are a few FAM trips here and there, I won’t say no!

Carrie Day
Carrie Day
Carrie started her career in the travel industry in 2014 and has worked in various roles such as Travel Consultant in Canada & Ireland, Business Development Manager and later Industry Sales Manager EMEA at an international tour company. She is also a trustee for the ITAA Benevolent Fund since 2021 and proud member of the AWTE Ireland. Conversations around sustainable travel are welcomed and encouraged!

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