HomeFeaturesEpisode 6: ITTN Talks To… Gold Travel Counsellor, Katrina McMullan

Episode 6: ITTN Talks To… Gold Travel Counsellor, Katrina McMullan

In our latest instalment of ITTN Talks, we caught up with Navan-based Gold Travel Counsellor, Katrina McMullan.

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?

It’s hard to believe how quickly the past few months have flown by. I’ve found the first quarter (almost) of the year has been incredibly busy and despite a short lull between St Patrick’s Day & the beginning of Easter, sales are still showing an increase compared with last year. Cruise sales in particular, both Ocean and River, are continuing to show strong growth.  Since my business is mainly built on referrals, I’m especially grateful to see that the main source of growth in the business is from customer referrals.

What has been your biggest surprise this year?

The advancements in technology are mind-blowing. We’ve had a sneak peek at our recent conference at some of the innovations coming down the line at Travel Counsellors and it’s pretty exciting. Rather than fearing the rapid increase in the use of AI, it’s so interesting to see how it can be used to our benefit while also enhancing our services and our customer experience.

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

There have been a few challenges this year. The biggest one is ‘Time’ (or maybe this is highlighting a time management issue!). It often feels like there are not enough hours in the day. Fortunately, being part of a team within Travel Counsellors allows us to collaborate and share the workload. Working alongside another TC to manage tasks like admin and ticketing is starting to help free up time to deal with the volume of enquiries that are coming in. Another challenge is the increase in prices across European sun holiday resorts for Summer 2024. These increases are stretching family holiday budgets more than a lot of customers may have anticipated.

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

Japan has been one of the hottest destinations in the world for the last couple of years and 2024 is no different. I also see a lot more families traveling to long haul destinations. With the increase in European prices, I am finding it is often worthwhile to look at travelling further afield to get better value for money and for families to experience new cultures and adventures of a lifetime.

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

Both. This week for example I had a multi generation family book a Mediterranean Cruise for 2025 and also a couple book to travel to South Africa on their honeymoon in 3 weeks. There are definitely lots more customers seeing the value of booking their holiday in advance to ensure they get what they are looking for and the benefit of paying it over a longer period of time but I don’t think we’ll ever move away from the last minute requests either.

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

When I’m thinking about booking a trip, pure relaxation is always the first thing that comes to mind given the long hours I work. But I’m only fooling myself! The minute the plane lands I’m looking for adventure & things to see and do. I’m open to travelling anywhere I haven’t been before. Stunning landscapes and new cultures are the main draw when making a decision. Two of the short breaks I’m hoping to fit in this year are a few days in Marrakesh, I love a vibrant bustling city and the other is Madeira for the beautiful natural coastal landscape.

What is your dream holiday, and why?

I’ve never actually been to South Africa but I am hoping to change that over the next 12 – 18 months. As a keen amateur photographer, including a safari and capturing the African wildlife are top of the list. (Watch out ITTN Photographer of the Year 😉). Having spent years tailor making itineraries to South Africa, at this stage I know almost to the room type where I want to go.

Where is 2024 taking you?

In a few weeks, I’m on holiday for a week on the brand new Sun Princess, sailing from Athens to Barcelona. I’ve been glued to all the fantastic coverage the ship has been getting over the past few weeks from people in and outside the industry & now even more excited to experience it for myself. Also, one of the ports of call is Kotor in Montenegro which has been on my radar for a good few years.

When I disembark the cruise, I’m flying on to Utah on a 1 week fam trip which is bringing us through the Red Rocks & National Parks. I’m beyond excited to see what there is to offer!

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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