Ciara Feely Cahalane started her business Find a Conference Venue in 2008 after two years of researching the market in Ireland and looking for a gap that needed to be filled.
“I came back from San Francisco in 2004 and realised how different the Irish market was to the US. I worked in a niche market in the US hotel industry that I could not work in here, so I went about researching the market to find my niche for the Irish and European market,” she said.
The website is a “venue finding” tool for conferences, meetings and other events.
“The business model has two parts – one being the independent search facility where suitable venues can be found by location, capacity or type of venue such as ‘Convention Centres’, ‘Team building venues’, ‘BBQ venues’ and ‘Unusual venues’,” Feely Cahalane explained.
The other part is where she offers a personal service, conducting research on behalf of an association or company and issuing a report on the most suitable venues in Ireland for its event. Feely Cahalane has been to and experienced most hotels around the country and there are more than 500 venues on the site.
Growth prospects positive
Optimistic about the future, she has recently taken on two staff – one in the office and the other as a sales agent selling around the country.
The last few years were tough in the industry, but in her opinion, they also presented opportunities.
“Ireland was losing out on a lot of international conferences and events because of our reputation of being an expensive destination – and indeed we were,” she said, adding that she herself lost €273,000 worth of business to Paris, London and Barcelona in 2006 to 2009 because Irish hotels would not compete on the rates.
“Hotels in Ireland are better priced now and more flexible to work with on securing a piece of business.”
Photo: Ciara Feely Cahalane
Article courtesy of Bizstartup.ie