Marking its 10th anniversary today, tourist reservations company Gulliver Ireland said it has handled more than 1.2 million bookings valued at over €250m since 1997 and that the internet has revolutionised the industry.
In 1997 Gulliver Ireland only had a presence in travel agents’ offices. Now virtually all accommodation using Gulliver Ireland is booked over the internet.
“In 1997, Gulliver was only seen in tourist offices and holidays were booked through travel agents. Today, Gulliver is the leading organisation in the country for hotel and B&B bookings. Last year, we made over 80,000 hotel and guesthouse bookings valued at almost €17m and over 50,000 B&B bookings worth almost €7m,” said Dr Steward Stephens, managing director, Gulliver Ireland.
Gulliver launched Ireland’s first online accommodation booking platform, GoIreland.com, in 1999. Today, the online community is the world’s biggest tourism marketplace. Stephens said that businesses in this sector without an effective online presence do not exist.
The company also reported that queries via telephone have all but disappeared because of internet booking. In 2000, Gulliver handled over 500,000 tourist information calls in seven languages but now there are hardly any.
Domestic holidaymakers made 19pc of bookings in 2000, third place that year, but last year occupied top slot with a 32pc of bookings, Gulliver reported.
Other key findings include the fact that hotel bookings have soared since 1997 when they represented 16pc of all tourism bookings through Gulliver; last year 47pc of bookings were for hotels. “This remarkable growth is a function of phenomenal hotel development throughout the country and the attendant rise in the range, availability and value for money of hotel bedrooms as well as the added-value product they provide,” said Stewart.
Stewart said the B&B sector was holding up well despite repeated predictions of imminent decline, a factor he put down to Gulliver’s commitment to the sector.
“As a company based in rural Ireland, we are particularly pleased at what we have achieved in the B&B sector, at a time when some commentators are sounding the B&B death-knell. We attribute our success to a sustained B&B focus, characterised by a strong product across a wide range of B&Bs throughout Ireland that provide value for money. Our view is that a first-class B&B product can be just as competitive and successful in 2007 as any other type of tourism accommodation.”
Dublin and the west coast still dominate the destinations for holidaymakers, with the most popular counties being Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Cork and Clare.
The average per-person sharing price per night across all hotel grades has increased from €53.63 in 2000 to €57.58 in 2006, a 7pc increase. This increase has been well behind the rate of inflation for the period due to the strong competition in the hotel sector, said Gulliver.
By Niall Byrne