Ireland: Home Study

The Irish Tourist Board plans to launch a new program early this year designed to "enable agents to sell Ireland more frequently, more easily and more effectively."

The program, Shamrock Club, will be promoted during trade seminars this year. The board said it hopes to sign up 500 agents in each of the first two years.

Joseph Byrne, executive vice president of the Irish Tourist Board, said his office looked at the programs done by other countries and tried to pick from the best of them.

The ICTA-endorsed program, which offers continuing education credits toward a CTC degree, is a home study course organized in individual modules. Three modules will cover, respectively, information about Ireland, getting to and around Ireland, and tour and travel opportunities. Four modules will deal with regions, and there also can be a specially themed module.

The first modules will be in the mail on March 1. The goal is to have a four- to six-week turnaround for each.

Among the benefits for agents who belong to Shamrock Club, according to the tourist board are:

  • Leads: consumer referrals.
  • Possible bonus commissions from select suppliers.
  • Promotional support: consumer and trade advertising, publicity program, dedicated toll-free line for information, priority for graduates over other agent callers.
  • Display items for office including letter racks and bags.
  • Distinctive logo for use on stationery and promotional materials.
  • Newsletter to begin in the second year of the program with tips, offers and product news.
  • The cost to agents for enrollment in the Shamrock Club includes a $150 participation fee, $250 for graduation attendance on educational trips to Ireland, and an annual $75 maintenance fee after the first year.

    For information, agents may contact the Irish Tourist Board at (800) 223-6470.

    Seminar sessions
    This year the Northern Ireland Tourist Board will once again team up with suppliers to offer educational sessions for agents. The free seminars, offered as podium presentations or roundtable discussions, feature suppliers from Northern Ireland and the U.S. and include dinner and the opportunity to win prizes.

    The schedule for 1998 is: March 2, Los Angeles; March 3, San Francisco; March 4, Seattle; March 5, Vancouver, B.C.; March 9, Toronto; March 10, Boston; March 11, New York; March 12, Atlanta.

    For information, agents may contact the Northern Ireland Tourist Board at (800) 326-0036.

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    The following tips may prove helpful to agents working with clients who are planning to travel to Ireland with children.

  • Suggest a self-drive vacation, since it provides more flexibility.
  • Keep travel time between destinations relatively short since children are apt to get cranky after several hours in a car.
  • Plan longer stays, maybe two or three nights, at each destination. Many children find it disturbing to change hotels nightly. And changing hotels when traveling with children can be especially cumbersome for the adults.
  • Leave lots of free time on the itinerary to give families plenty of flexibility.
  • Recommend lodgings that are family-friendly. Consider issues such as whether there's a pool at the hotel (most children love the water) and if there are children's activities in the area.
  • Inquire about the hotel's cuisine. Can special meals be prepared for fussy eaters?
  • For clients planning an active vacation in Ireland, recommend less demanding adventures if they're traveling with younger children.
  • Among qualifying questions agents should ask family clients are these:

  • What are the ages of the children traveling?
  • What are the family's interests?
  • What are their lodging requirements? Do family members want to share one room?
  • Are they willing to share two double beds? If sleeping in separate rooms, will they be comfortable if there is no adjoining door?
  • Is the family experienced at traveling together overseas?
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