Winner: Cassidy Travel
In Cassidy Travel, our readers painted a picture of a "trustworthy" Irish travel agent that has "great deals" and "tailor-made options" for holidaymakers.
"They go the extra mile for you", you said, naming Ireland's Favourite Travel Agent / Tour Operator in our Reader Travel Awards 2020.
"They have a huge range of trips and deals, consistently good service... you genuinely feel like you're getting the best deal for your budget."
"Booked New York and Vegas for my hub's 40th, and I had the poor girl mithered with questions and different options", one of you told us. "No question was too stupid, and she gave me all the time I needed. They were excellent. Also, the online payment was brilliant."
Established in 1985, with nine shops and more than 100 travel experts in Dublin, comments gave a sense of an agency that has the knack both for online convenience and human customer service.
"Great advice, realistic about price, doesn't push you towards the most expensive option", as one reader put it. In a world of internet bookings and DIY holidays, you praised Cassidy Travel's "very knowledgeable" staff as experts that know their stuff "and will always make a return call or email".
As one reader told us: "It is a still a real pleasure dealing with people working in a shop, rather than always booking everything online."
The company does a large range of holidays - from cruise and sun escapes to city breaks and US travel, as well as running specialist Cassidy Golf and Classic Resorts offshoots. Next month, it plans to open a tenth TravelShop in Dublin's Stephen's Green shopping centre.
"I was travelling with people with specific needs and the advice I was given by staff during booking was invaluable," one satisfied customer said.
"It feels like a one-to-one service", added another. You also shared stories of Cassidy's "helpfulness and ability to check many different tour operators", as well as problems quickly resolved. "Needed to ring them once to change arrangements and they excelled with their efficiency."
"Friendly. No hidden costs. You get what you pay for."
Contact 0818 332 500; cassidytravel.ie
Finalists: Cassidy Travel, Trailfinders, TUI, Sunway, Travel Department
What’s it like working as a travel agent? Brenda Ryan (pictured on the right, top) has worked at the Liffey Street branch of Cassidy Travel for nine years. Here’s her typical day.
“The majority of us come in at around 8am. I personally start about 8.15am, and finish up about 6pm, maybe 7pm. No call ever goes unanswered, so we make sure all of our clients are called back.
“People still want to come into the travel agent — they want our experience, and they like speaking to somebody face to face. We have girls who’ve been working here over 20 years.
“Some people come in with an online quote from our website, but they want our expertise before they make a booking. The girls will know about promotions, too — things like ocean-view upgrades. But the prices are all the same, however you book.
“We’re fully licensed and bonded. That means if there’s something like the ash cloud, or if a company goes into liquidation, we make sure that everyone is looked after. They have us at the end of the phone if they are abroad, 24/7. You wouldn’t get that service [booking different parts of a holiday independently] online.
“My favourite part of the job? Dealing with people, because people are lovely. We get to know people, their families. People will pop in with a bottle of wine or box of chocolates at Christmas time, to say thank you. It sounds clichéd, but it makes all the difference!
“Cassidy Travel has an exceptional name. People know they’re going to be looked after here. I can go anywhere, and if someone’s talking about holidays, Cassidy Travel is always mentioned.”
- In conversation with Nicola Brady