HomeFeaturesEpisode 2: ITTN Talks To… Catherine Cinnamond of Ace Travel

Episode 2: ITTN Talks To… Catherine Cinnamond of Ace Travel

In our latest instalment of ITTN Talks, we caught up with Catherine Cinnamond who has recently joined Marena and the team at Ace Travel in Newcastle West, Co. Limerick.

In this new weekly 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.

Hi Catherine! You have recently joined the Ace Travel team, how is everything going so far? 

Amazing! I have swapped bumper to bumper traffic for the more scenic drive to work. I catch up on my latest podcasts, grab a coffee in beautiful Adare and arrive to work totally chilled. The team have been so welcoming. I would like to express huge thanks to Marena, Sheila, and Freda for making me feel so at home.  Although I only joined the team at the start of February, I do not feel like the new girl as I have known the girls a long time, it is such a small industry. The customers have been so appreciative of my advice and guidance. We know how challenging working competitively in the travel business can be. It is so rewarding when people appreciate your experience and advise.  I love that no day is the same. The variety of products and services required from our customers keeps me motivated. I feel more immersed in the Irish Travel industry and the support provided by suppliers is much appreciated. It is good to be back. 

How has 2024 been for you, so far?  

2024 started in the best way. I jetted off to Lanzarote thanks to Shannon Airport and enjoyed some R&R with my daughter. It pays to visit trade events and while we learn our craft, it comes with welcome surprizes too. I also celebrated my 50th birthday and there was nowhere else I wanted to be than Disneyland Paris. It is a family tradition of ours to visit here since we celebrated our daughters first birthday back in 2000. I am so grateful to say there have been a lot of Cinnamond birthdays celebrated in Disney Parks. Prior to starting with Ace Travel, I worked as an Education Support Worker in TUS Limerick. This was very rewarding role and great to be in a college environment, it refreshed my energy levels. It was a complete change from my previous role of Retail Manager in TUI Limerick which I enjoyed for over twenty years. This year was the first in thirty years that I was not working in travel. But I am back now with a bang! 

What has been your biggest surprise this year? 

That I am 50 (haha) and back in travel. Honestly, when I “retired” from TUI I thought my travel days were over. I had visions of doing something completely different, and I did. There is nothing like a roundie birthday to get you re-evaluating what is most important and what you want to achieve. I really enjoyed my time in TUS Limerick in a supportive role, but the pace was just a little too relaxed for me and although part time, I was still working Monday to Friday. When the travel consultant role came along in Ace Travel, I could not believe my luck. Fixed days allowing the perfect work/life balance for me. My two cavalier king charles doggies are delighted that I am home earlier in the evenings and I’ve full days to give them undivided attention. I have time for midweek coffee and catch ups with my friends and weekends with my hubby. The cherished chain that my TUI colleagues gave me says “live happy” and I sure am. 

What has been the biggest challenge to you this year?  

That is an easy answer and very recent. Booking my daughter Joy’s flight to Nice where she is relocating for a new role in her teaching career this month. She is my trash TV/wine and dine partner in crime and I will end up roping the dogs into watching MAFS and Celebrity Big Brother with me. The next biggest challenge is probably getting stuck behind a tractor on the way home or cutting down on my cups of coffee during the day. 

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

People are looking for more short breaks away to the sun. With several destinations available from regional airports, we all want to experience something new. I think customers are still playing catch up from the years of travel lost due to Covid and wanting to get away several times throughout the year if possible. If your travel agent can find you the best offers, it allows you to get away and possibly offers more value than a stay in Ireland. The bucket list destinations and experiences are back too as people are not putting off their dream holidays and families that never travelled are planning their first trip away. Larger groups, such as families or friends travelling together, are another challenge, just to get the room capacity required within the customers preferred dates of travel. It is all exciting. There is no other industry like the travel industry! 

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

Both options to be honest. We have many families looking for two holidays at the one time, hoping on last minute availability whilst checking on the next trip away. Couples who are considering a short break away at short notice and then affording more time and research to their main getaway. Overall, it is obvious that people are still shocked with the limited availability regarding lates, especially with regional airport departures. We need to check out all suitable options in a timely manner and emphasise the limited availability without approaching on the hard sell, which I run a mile from myself. It is all about understanding your customers’ needs and informing them with your knowledge on what the best options are.  

On a more personal note, what motivates your travel? 

Food & fun! I love to try new food and wine. I am a firm believer in making the most of your destination and soaking up as much of the culture as you can whilst there. I am a get up and go kind of person rather than a sun lounger person. I love experiencing new routes, there is always somewhere on the “to do” list and that will be an ever-evolving beast. I do love returning to Disney, be that Paris or Orlando, just a big kid at heart. From my first visit when I was seven years old to Florida, I have the most treasured memories associated with Disney and I always will. I also have a piece of my heart in the beautiful Greek Island of Kos. We are returning this summer to, our home from home, the resort of Tingaki. Only two years ago we renewed our marriage vows in the beautiful Zia nature park. I am biased in saying this, but it is one of the most romantic sunsets you will ever experience. If you visit Kos, do not miss this.  

What is your dream holiday, and why?  

Can a travel agent have just one dream destination? There is just too much to choose from. Round the world maybe? I would love to return to Thailand and explore more. I would love to visit Disney Tokyo. Do a Pacific Coastal cruise visiting Astoria to follow the footsteps of Mikey and the rest of the Goonies as well as seeing Dr Frasier Crane’s Seattle. Bring my family back to Port Stephens in Australia (I was lucky to be interviewed by local media there as visiting from Ireland on fam trip). I could start and would not stop. Like a kid in a sweet shop, we have so much choice. Thankfully (for my bank balance) we’ve only so many days off in the year.  

Where is 2024 taking you? 

Well next stop is Nice, France to check in with my buddy and then onto Kos later in the year. This year has been jam-packed as it is with Lanzarote and Paris already completed and a few homestay getaways to beautiful Donegal and Clare. A must visit to Galway, Cork & Dublin are on the cards too to catch up with friends. I will be ugly crying all the way to Mary I College in October to see the “baby” of the house Ben graduate and wish him well in whatever his future holds. And who knows what other wonderful trips will come my way this year. 2024 has been full of adventure and new beginnings so far. 

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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