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Royal Caribbean and TTG’s Pippa Jacks hit the road in Ireland, where they encountered snowfall, sausage rolls and sat-nav crises along the way

own videographer onboard Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas last year and having amassed an impressive 13,700 fans on Facebook. We’re fascinated to hear about


It’s a shame it’s 9.30am when we visit this agency as the family that owns Bowe Travel also owns Bowe’s Bar next door. Co-director Michael is a fourth-generation Bowe and now runs it with wife Catherine, along with four consultants. Bowe Travel, which dates back to

1902, is at the heart of the community in this small town in County Tipperary. It’s not unusual to open up at 10pm or on Sundays for an out-of-hours appointment. And we’re tickled to hear that on Christmas Eve, the store opens until midnight and does a roaring trade in last-minute holiday vouchers for those drinking in the pub who haven’t done their Christmas shopping. Despite an incredible 90% repeat customer rate, Bowe Travel is pushing to grow the business – it held its first cruise- specific event last year and is focusing on radio advertising. The Bowes are passionate about educating consumers about what a good travel agent can do, and have found taking a stand in a local shopping centre a great opportunity to do so. They are just as passionate about their own team: Catherine explains a bespoke approach to incentivise staff, according to what motivates them best.


The owner of Marble City Travel, Tom Britton, is something of a local celebrity, having a regular slot on the radio every Friday morning. It’s been Christina Quigley, Tom Britton and Gillian Purser at Marble City Travel in Kilkenny

08 TOP 50 TRAVEL AGENCIES 2017 SHORTLIST Royal Caribbean’s Michaela Banks (second left) with the Bowe Travel team

That’s thanks in part to the launch of Cruise Paradise, a phone and web- based specialist brand, with two dedicated consultants upstairs above the shop in central Kilkenny.

a tough few years for the agency following the downturn in Ireland, Tom tells us, but the business is now back on track and growing.

The agency has a forward- thinking approach to social media and digital marketing,

having taken its

Tom’s personal journey from being (by his own admission) somewhat less than athletic to a marathon-running fitness fanatic – transforming his own energy and drive and inspiring his team to do the same. But raising money for charity and training for an Iron Man does not take his eye off the ball in terms of customer service. Happy birthday texts and Christmas cards are sent as standard and customers have a 24-hour phone line to call while they’re away.


After a fall-out with our sat nav (turns out there is a George Street in Portlaw as well as Waterford city), we reach Strand Travel, which was named the Republic of Ireland’s Top Agency at last year’s TTG Top 50 ceremony. But boss Tom O’Donohoe and his team have not let down their guard. Royal Caribbean’s Michaela Banks

and I visit the day after they unveil a new Cruise Centre at the back of the



FOOD BRIBES ENJOYED: Homemade sausage rolls & TTG cupcakes

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