In our weekly ‘Back to Business’ series of interviews with the travel industry, Clodagh Dooley talks to Paddy Baird, Managing Director of Killester Travel, about how Covid-19 has brought its challenges, but also new opportunities
Based in Dublin, Killester Travel is a Sports Tour Operator, specialising in rugby and golf tours, with other niche areas including wine tours, entertainment and country music tours, wellness and Irish activity holidays.
However, as a result of Covid-19, Managing Director Paddy Baird tells us that rugby tours, their main business, has completely stopped. “This is naturally due to spectator limits and travel advice,” he explains. “Foreign golf holidays, for example in Spain and Portugal, are also non-existent due to the current travel advice.”
Although it has been challenging, Paddy says Killester Travel, which is made up of eight employees, has taken the opportunity to innovate and think outside-of-the-box with their offering, “We have undertaken extensive research and launched our Irish Golf and Irish Activity packages, specifically designed for our customers.
“For example, we had large groups in Japan last year for the Rugby World Cup, which was a great success. So we have now designed a package ‘Taste of Japan Cork Style’. This includes a night in Cork plus a one-course dinner in the Japanese restaurant – and Ireland’s only Michelin-star restaurant – Ichigo Ichie, as well as an English market tasting lunch. This has proved very popular with clients, as it lets them relive and recall some of the wonderful memories of Japan.”
Paddy continues, “We have also created a more physically challenging trip. Our ‘Twin Peaks Challenge’ is a climb of Slieve Foye in Co Louth and then Slieve Donard in Co Down the following day.”
And Killester Travel is taking this opportunity to redevelop their website to now offer an extensive incoming Golf Tours business.
“We want to try to excite our clients with our packages and provide a different service while we go through this crisis,” says Paddy.
Paddy’s outlook is positive for when people feel safe to travel again, as he predicts a strong demand for their services. “We expect a very strong demand for our trips, in particular Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.
And where is the first destination he wants to travel? “Italy! For the food!”
Paddy’s advice for any Irish travellers who want to book flights somewhere soon is, “Firstly, book with a Licensed Travel Agent. Ensure that your flight can be moved without charge and that the accommodation has free cancellation in case travel advice changes.”
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