In our weekly ‘Back to Business’ series of interviews with the travel industry, Kevin Flanagan talks to Cormac Meehan, Owner of Meehan Travel, about how the lockdown affected business and how he’s looking to the future with optimism
“Having the doors of the office open is very important,” says Cormac Meehan, Owner of Meehan Travel based in Bundoran, Co Donegal. “We reopened in early July and while there was very little business, we were able to drive our holidays at home initiative out on social media and local radio stations.
“We have also taken the time to reflect on our business. We are very fortunate that the beach and Donegal Bay are just 100 metres from our front door. If the going ever gets tough, we can just take a quick stroll on the seafront.”
Meehan Travel was established back in the early 1950s by Cormac’s late father, Sean and Cormac took control in 1986. The bespoke travel service provider has a staff of three and provides a personalised service. Cormac says that when Covid-19 hit Ireland and lockdown ensued in March, they decided to close to the general public and concentrate on repatriating, rescheduling, cancelling and refunding clients.
“My staff acted above and beyond their normal duties to help their client base. They work in a rural area, with a sizeable catchment area in the counties of Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim and Fermanagh, but they know their clients personally. Through the shutdown period, communication between staff and customers was paramount. Accurate information in a rapidly changing environment is so vital. We managed and continue to retain the confidence of our clients.
“I negotiated agreements with quality hotels and resorts on the island and rebuilt connections with PAB Tours, who have been very good to work with.
But mainly we support each other and our clients in the business, which is the most important thing. This connection is positive for us and those who visit us.”
Meehan Travel installed screens and introduced sanitisers, and staff were supplied with PPE to protect both them and their customers. And Cormac says that the Irish Travel Agent’s Association (ITAA), for which he served as President for two terms, has been incredibly helpful whenever they have a problem.
Cormac says, “I have built a huge network in the retail and supplier communities, so I always know a go-to person if and when we have any issues. ITAA CEO Pat Dawson, the executive team, the President and Board have constantly maintained contact with us. We have had webinars on many important topics from physical and mental well-being of ourselves and our staff, to Human Resources issues, financial planning, and crisis management. Finally, the ITAA has been invaluable in making our case for state support in a very crowded space.”
And now with travel slowly opening back up and more people planning holidays, where does Cormac himself want to visit?
“My wife Maureen and I are very fond of the city of Alicante. We can fly from Ireland West at Knock, just an hours drive from us and relax there for a few days. We have missed our trips we had planned for this year, like everybody else, but we look forward with optimism. I think the position and role of the travel professional have been recognised by a very grateful consumer base. And that will help us going into the future.
“As long as we all come through this safe and well, that’s the most important thing.”
Contact Meehan Travel on 071 984 1762/071 984 1351 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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