In our weekly ‘Back to Business’ series of interviews with the travel industry, Clodagh Dooley talks to Martin Skelly, Managing Director of Navan Travel/Travalue.ie and Uwalk.ie, about keeping business ticking along and the changes they’ve made for their customers
The award-winning travel agency Navan Travel, today known as Travalue.ie, is 48 years in business. So the company is no stranger to challenges and changes of circumstances. They’ve had to pivot their business from a local to a national travel agency and rebrand as Travalue.ie back during the economic downturn.
More recently during Covid-19, owner Martin Skelly, who is also the founding member of UWalk.ie (part of the Navan Travel /Travalue.ie Group), and his team of five have been working very hard the past few months, repatriating customers and rearranging client bookings for future travel.
“We have been operating without stop, answering phones, emails and offering zoom consultations, both from the office and from working remotely at home,” says Martin. “This will continue for the moment and thankfully, it is working well and has proved popular with customers.”
The agency, which specialises in walking holidays, family holidays, and special interest groups, has made some changes in the business as a result of Covid-19.
“We have increased our selection of specialist walking holidays, especially on the popular Camino and we are adding several really interesting destinations for walking and activity holidays in Europe.
“We are also making sure we have block booked enough rooms in prime locations on the Camino to facilitate the busy season in 2021, when pilgrims will celebrate the Holy Year and the feast of St James.”
Martin and his team are determined to keep a positive attitude during this challenging time for the travel industry. “Every challenge brings its own opportunities and Covid-19 is no exception,” he says. “The prospect of creating, marketing and selling new specialised holiday products that reflect changing customer requirements and demands, is an exciting prospect.”
And Martin’s dedication to creating safe trips, which will evoke a lifetime of memories for his customers, means the first place he will be travelling abroad will be work-related.
“I’ll be travelling to Santiago de Compostela and visiting the hotels on the Camino. We want to meet our hotel and transfer partners, so that we can reassure our clients about the safety standards in our accommodations on the Camino.”
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