Travel Weeklys Ireland E-letter: March 17, 2005

AGENTS ONLY: Ireland-only tour operator Sceptre Tours struck a preferred-supplier deal with Vacation.com under which the agency consortiums 6,000-plus members can apply for Sceptres Emerald Partner status and earn automatic 12.5% commissions via client referrals at Sceptres call center and Web site. The Emerald Partner program provides agencies a real-time booking engine that integrates seamlessly into existing Web sites. In addition, Sceptre said it will engage in aggressive promotion of Ireland to both Vacation.com members and consumers through the consortiums Engagement marketing program. For more, call (800) 221-0924 or visit www.sceptretours.com.

QUICK-CHECK: Aer Lingus said it was extending its new FastPass self-check-in system at Dublins airport to its transatlantic routes the week of March 14. The carriers FastPass system has served more than 1 million passengers since its launch last year. To date, about 55% of Aer Lingus passengers use FastPass on a daily basis to the U.K. and Europe; Aer Lingus hopes the figure will rise to 66% by the end of 2005 with the introduction on transatlantic routes. The airline currently has 34 FastPass terminals in operation at Dublin and is installing an additional 16 kiosks. To view an interactive, online demo of FastPass, visit www.aerlingus.com and click on the New self-service check-in button.

MORE ROOM(S): In the latest iteration of an ongoing $6.7-million or so renovation effort, the La Mon Hotel and Country Club in Castlereagh, Belfast, Northern Ireland, added 20 guestrooms and suites to its existing inventory of 90 units. Nightly room rates at La Mon -- which was recently awarded 4-star hotel status by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board -- range from about $240 for a standard double to $296 for a suite and $344 for a Premier Plus double. For more, visit www.lamon.co.uk.

A GLASS ACT: Brendan Worldwide Vacations is awarding Waterford crystal to agents who book a guaranteed Ireland departure through the end of March. Valid tours are the eight-night Ireland at Leisure, priced from $1,608 per person (land only, based on double occupancy) with guaranteed departures on May 6, 13 and 27, and June 17 and 24; the 11-night Sights and Sounds of Ireland (from $1,868), departing April 24 and May 1; The Scots and The Irish (12 nights, from $1,978), departing May 1; and Best of Ireland North (six nights, from $1,198) leaving May 15 and June 19. Agents who book and deposit these departures by March 31 receive a free pair of Waterford crystal glasses. Call (800) 421-8446 or visit www.brendanvacations.com.

BEANNACHTAI NA FEILE PADRAIG: Or, Happy St. Patricks Day, to all our Travel Weekly Ireland E-letter readers.

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