Tuesday 22 May 2018

'Forget the clockwatchers' - Here's the real secret to Ireland's tourism success

Reader Travel Awards 2018

Ireland's Face of Hospitality 2018: Our service staff
Ireland's Face of Hospitality 2018: Our service staff
Reader Travel Awards 2018, as revealed in Weekend Magazine and Independent.ie.
Francis Brennan of the Park Hotel Kenmare
The Face of Irish Hospitality: Our service staff

Online Editors

Who embodies the spirit of Irish hospitality? We asked for your 2018 votes, and you put customer service front and centre.

The face of Irish hospitality 2018

Winner: Our service staff

We had to think long and hard about this one.

Francis Brennan was the runaway winner by volume of votes (“a national treasure,” as one of you said), but he was also one of our judges… so couldn’t be given the win. In fact, Francis went so far as to recuse himself from the judging process in this category!

In the end, trawling through the data, and bringing Francis back in for a consult, an alternative result was staring us in the face. Words like “receptionist”, “host”, “guide”, “barman”, “taxi driver” and “doorman” cropped up again and again in your comments — the people at the coalface of Ireland’s hospitality industry, in other words.

From B&B hosts to Aer Lingus cabin crew, from celebs like Neven Maguire to Michael D Higgins (“a warm and inviting president”), your suggestions prompted us to give this award to a category of people rather than one single person: Ireland’s service staff.

Francis Brennan of the Park Hotel Kenmare
Francis Brennan of the Park Hotel Kenmare
Eibhear Coyle, GM of Amber Springs, in one of the hotel's new family suites.

“It’s the people who show the most kindness, the staff who actually enjoy their jobs,” you said. “Not the clock-watchers, the people who just clock in to get paid.”

What makes this indelibly Irish impression?

“Never underestimate the impression the people at reception make on a visitor,” you said. “Even the small things they sort out for you can mean so much!”

That includes the reader who got his Tayto sandwich after the Munster Final from the night porter at the Malton Hotel in Killarney!

“We had a few issues in our room and the maintenance guy came and sorted them,” another reader told us. “He was a really nice guy, told us where and where not to go in Dublin, and even came back to our room later with maps and good places to go around Ireland.”

The little touches make a big difference… the “waiter that remembers your name”, the “friendly face at the end of a long drive”, “the farmer giving directions in West Cork”.

They’re the faces of Irish hospitality, and we salute them.

Your say on service:

Amber Hotel Family Suites EC.jpg
Eibhear Coyle, GM of Amber Springs, in one of the hotel's new family suites.

“It’s the ordinary person with the céad míle fáilte...’

“The owner and manager at Killarney’s Dromhall Hotel Killarney were exceptionally helpful this year when we arrived without a booking. They were full, but rang all other hotels to find us two rooms. We were so impressed we stayed with them the following night.”

“My kids’ faces. They are the face of Irish hospitality. If they look happy and not saying I’m bored and have no gadget in their hand, the venue is winning!”

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