HomeFeaturesEpisode 3: ITTN Talks To… Cathy Burke of Travel Counsellors Ireland

Episode 3: ITTN Talks To… Cathy Burke of Travel Counsellors Ireland

In our latest instalment of ITTN Talks, we caught up with Cathy Burke, General Manager of Travel Counsellors Ireland.

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.

How has 2024 been for your business so far?   

It’s been really great. Our Q1 – 1 Nov – 31 Jan results are out and sales have increased by 12% compared to same time last year (which was our best ever year).  So far since January in our experience, clients are booking much earlier and travelling further afield. Long haul is most definitely back. 

What has been your biggest surprise this year? 

Ryanair forging relationships with tour operators, I was not expecting that. 

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

Keep up with the pace of customer demand.  Enquiries are on the up and we have found peoples budgets are also quite a bit higher, despite the economic situation.  Due to the increased demand we are always on the lookout for experienced people to join our community.  The facility that we introduced last year to work as part of a team with other TC colleagues, is really working well and increasing the earnings of everyone involved. 

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

Long Haul and Cruise for us. Long Haul particularly is working out at better value than Europe in some cases as consumer confidence in travelling further afield returns.  Cruise is doing great with all the new ships and itineraries from our suppliers and with the itineraries becoming more adventurous, those that are new to cruise are catching on that the value is excellent. 

We have a focus on Corporate Travel too for SME’s that want the personal touch and we are seeing success in that area headed up by Ciara MacConnell in our Cork Office. 

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

Longer lead times definitely. Last minute in the old days was the week of departure, now we consider last minute to be 8 weeks before departure, but unlike the old days, prices increase closer to departure rather than reduce.   

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

It’s a mix and it depends on the time of year. So in February I need a fly and flop in the sunshine after putting in crazy hours in January, that’s my medicine.  Throughout the year I like to experience somewhere new that I haven’t been before with a mix of culture, good food and nice weather.   

What is your dream holiday, and why?  

In December we had our dream holiday in Thailand with the family from Sydney, and did the Elephant Hills experience together, which was unreal. We’ve direct contracts so we were treated royally. 

Where is 2024 taking you? 

I’m already booked for a week in Italy in spring, my nephew’s wedding in Cyprus in September and then in December we plan to visit the family in Sydney. 

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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