An entertaining and informative Travel Counsellors Ireland conference at the Fota Island Resort, Co Cork, attracted 160 delegates, including representatives of 46 suppliers, and ended with a Gala Dinner at which awards were presented to 10 winners, including Etihad Airways for Best Business Partner of the Year and Sarah McCarthy for Best Travel Counsellor.
Above are award winners Karen Maloney, Etihad Airways, and Travel Counsellors Sharon Tiernan-Murphy, Lorraine Lawless, Jennifer O’Brien, Sarah McCarthy, Sue Cahill, Jeanette Coughlan, Mary Foyle, and Diane Bowman.
Founded in 1994 and based in Manchester, England, the company currently has more than 1,600 Travel Counsellors operating in seven countries worldwide. The highest-earning Travel Counsellor last year was ex-Trailfinders Drew Palmer in the UK, who joined just two years ago and last year generated a turnover of €4.4 million on his own.
In Ireland the top earner was Sarah McCarthy in Co Cork, who employs Val Gunn and generated a turnover of €1.5 million with an average margin of 14.6%.
There are 65 Travel Counsellors in the Republic of Ireland and a further three will join in April – Aisling Kutay in New Ross, Yvonne Lomansey in Skibbereen, and Eoin Walsh in Dublin. With 10 Gold Travel Counsellors (those generating over €1 million in sales), or 16% of members, Travel Counsellors Ireland has the highest percentage of Gold TCs in the world…and, perhaps contrary to a popular perception, there are 10 (soon 11) male TCs in the Republic.
Chief Executive Steve Byrne told the 56 Travel Counsellors attending that there is a unique opportunity in Ireland for Travel Counsellors to establish a premium concierge travel service. “No-one else is doing this in Ireland and you are the best at what you do in this country,” he said.
“Travel Counsellors worldwide are also in the unique position of being able to combine the human factor of personal service with the use of leading technology, thereby creating a relationship enabled and technology enabled business with our Phenix system at the heart of it.
“We must also overhaul our attitude to duty of care, maximise our use of social media, keep focused on RR2P (Recruit, Referrals+Rebooks, Phenix), and push more bookings to direct contracts and DMCs.”
The conference was the first Travel Counsellors event for ex-The Apprentice finalist Jim Eastwood, from Cookstown, Co Tyrone, who was due to start as Sales Director on the following Monday. Jim, who was previously Vice President Sales for Groupon UK & Ireland, told ITTN: “It is really exciting to be part of the Travel Counsellors family – which may be different to any other business.”
Two lucky prize draw winners were Ian Walsh, who won two Business Class tickets to anywhere on the Turkish Airlines network of 296 destinations, and Gearoid Mannion, who won two Economy Class tickets to Los Angeles with Ethiopian Airlines.
Best Business Partner of the Year: Etihad Airways
Best Travel Counsellor: Sarah McCarthy, Co Cork
Most Helpful Travel Counsellor: Sharon Tiernan-Murphy, Co Meath
Best Cruise: Douglas Hastings, Co Donegal
Best Phenix: Jeanette Coughlan, Co Kildare
Best Margin: Jennifer O’Brien, Co Dublin
Best DMC Sales: Mary Foyle, Co Cork
Best Business Increase: Kathy O’Sullivan and Sue Cahill, Co Wexford
Best Corporate: Lorraine Lawless, Co Meath
Best Newcomer: Diane Bowman, Co Kilkenny
“My husband, Jack Sheill, is almost part of the Head Office team and checks our sales daily online – but only to know what mood I will be in when I get home!” – Cathy Burke
“I was recently appointed Digital and Innovation Director and spent my first four days calling those heading up each country. When I phoned Ireland and introduced myself I just listened for the next 58 minutes as Cathy told me what needed to be done and how I should do it.” – Waseem Haq
“Travel consumers are looking for people who can help them, not sell to them.” – Steve Byrne
“Amazingly, my local chip shop sells cardboard goggles for Virtual reality viewing!” – Waseem Haq
Seen at the Workshop