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Photos courtesy of Tourism Ireland and Royal Irish Tours
Royal Irish Tours’ director of sales, Jonathan Sargeant, is noticing a trend amongst Canadian travellers coming out of the pandemic.
“We find people are going for a bit longer,” Sargeant tells Travel Courier. “While before most people wouldn’t go for longer than eight days, seven nights, now people are going for 10 days, 14 days, or they’re doing multi-country trips in one — so they’re doing Ireland and Scotland combined for two weeks or Ireland, England and Wales for two weeks. Those longer trips are definitely a trend.”
This year marks the tour operator’s first full season since 2019, meaning that tours are operating from the middle of April through to the third week of October. Even with a shortened season in 2022, Sargeant shared that Royal Irish Tours were back to 70% of pre-pandemic levels last year and bookings are coming in strong for the season ahead.
“We’re already pretty much sold out in May and in June, which is great,” he adds. “Most of our September departures are nearly full, which is fantastic. July and August are still a little softer, but they normally fill up a bit later. September October are becoming increasingly popular.”
Notably, Sargeant says the Manor Royal tour, which has a maximum of 26 guests, is one of the options that’s of interest for 2023.
“It’s our most luxurious tour, mostly five-star hotels and castles and that’s selling really well,” he says. “That’s kind of a slower pace tour and it’s more about the beautiful accommodation.”
In addition to regular coach tours, he says the smaller sightseeing tours are also trending.
“They’re max 16 guests and tend to be shorter trips so pick up at 9:00 a.m. in Dublin, dropped back however many days later at about 7:00 p.m.,” he notes. “It is a really really great option if you’ve been to Ireland before and just want to do a little portion of it.”
For agents who are looking to experience the product for themselves, Sargeant says Royal Irish Tours offers agent discounts as well as annual fam trip opportunities.
“We offer 30% off our coach tours, 25% off our premium sightseeing tours and 20% off other tour styles,” he reveals. “The best way to sell Ireland is to go there yourself. So if you ever do want to come travel with us, we’re happy to take you on a fam or give you an agent rate. We try to do one fam trip a year. We’re hoping to do a Scotland one in October. We just did a lovely one to Ireland and [will hopefully do] another Ireland one in November.”
Sargeant also highlighted that travel agents are key to the company’s business.
“The majority of our business comes through our valued travel agent partners so we’re delighted to see those numbers trend,” he says.
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