Agents earn 15% on Join Ireland card sales

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NEW YORK -- Agents selling the Emerald Isle can get some green back thanks to Join Ireland, a members-only, discount-card program for U.S. vacationers that pays 15% commission on each card sold.

The Join Ireland card, which costs $59 per year, offers clients discounts of 10% to 60% on more than 1,000 travel-related products in Ireland such as restaurants, shopping, visitor attractions, lodging, golf, cruises, car hire and international phone calls. Participating Irish retailers display a Join Ireland logo.

Dublin-based affinity club Join Ireland, which also has an office in Newport Beach, Calif., estimates that over a nine-night vacation, travelers using the card can save more than $1,000.

"The value is retrieved after you've booked one hotel night or eaten one night out," noted Deirdre O'Neill, vice president of sales at Join Ireland. "It's become sort of a necessary item for visitors."

The company's Web site serves as an on line guide to eating, shopping and activities in Ireland -- and features a list of Irish retailers that offer card holders discounts on Web purchases even after they've returned to the U.S.

Travel agents can enroll as Join Ireland card resellers at www.joinireland.com or by e-mailing [email protected]; some 200 U.S. agents have enrolled already, said O'Neill.

Jim McGuigan, executive vice president, North America of Tourism Ireland -- which is helping promote Join Ireland -- welcomed the program.

"The U.S. consumer of vacation travel products will seek the best value for money that the market will provide, especially these days," he said, in a statement. "This new service provides [that] opportunity for travelers to Ireland."

Although many European cities offer similar visitor cards, Join Ireland -- available only to foreign tourists -- is the first such nationwide card program, said O'Neill.

"It's a novel idea, but Ireland is a smaller country than most," she said, making implementation easier.

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