Holiday World 2016: How to get the most out of this year's show
Holiday World has kicked off in Dublin's RDS, with an exuberant travel trade predicting its best January in years.
The annual travel and holiday show takes place at the RDS Simmonscourt in Dublin from Friday, January 22 to Sunday, January 24.
“Some ITAA members have seen a sales increase of 40pc so far this month, compared with last year’s figures," said Pat Dawson, CEO of the ITAA.
The good business, and several new arrivals - including a Canadian Pavilion, Manchester City FC and stalls from Barbados, Texas and the Czech Republic among others - had spirits high this morning.
The show is an excellent opportunity to shop around and nab a holiday discount - but you need to work smart, rather than hard, to get the best results.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Have a plan of attack
Holiday World is a super one-stop-shop for browsing and booking holidays, with over 1,000 travel professionals from 50 countries on hand to have a chat... a welcome change from hours of frustrating research online.
To spare your fatigue, have a plan of attack. Grab a programme and figure out which stalls you want to hit, and what questions you want answered.
Ask the experts
Award-winning travel journalist Eoghan Corry is running a series of travel summits at Holiday World. He'll be joined by experts on topics ranging from The Americas to Cruises, Solo Holidays and Exotic Destinations. If you're planning a big trip, or honeymoon, these seminars are an excellent start... and they're free.
If you don't ask...
Holiday World is bursting with show-only discounts - but not all of them are trumpeted from the stalls. Exhibitors are wary of setting off mini-price wars under the RDS roof, so play the diplomatic card and ask what they're prepared to offer. One operator told me it would cut €100 off the price of any holiday booked at the show.
Get 10pc off the Camino
Speaking of discounts... Camino Ways is offering 10pc off all bookings on holidays in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland made at the show. You can also get 2-for1 admission by downloading a special voucher from CaminoWays.com. Stand: K9.
Set sail with Stena
Stena Line has several show-only deals, including 20pc off certain sailings to Britain and 15pc off sailings to France. It's also got up to 40pc off hotel and ferry packages. See stenaline.ie/hwdublin for more. Stand: K12
What have you got to lose? Both TravelMood and American Holidays are giving away holiday vouchers worth €1,000, for example. You could also win hospitality match tickets to Man City's Etihad Stadium (above). Bring your lucky pen!
Travel Corporation tips
The Travel Corporation has several brands at Holiday World, and each has its own enticing offers. Insight Vacations has a €150 discount on show bookings, for example, while Contiki has 10pc off all trips anywhere in the world. Stands: E3/H10
Sunway has heaps of holiday offers at its stand, starting from €299pp for a 3-star package to Kusadasi, Turkey. It also has vouchers offering savings of €150 off brochure prices on 2016 summer holidays in Europe. Stand: D7/D8
Consider a cruise
MSC Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Hurtigruten, Norwegian Cruise lines, Silversea Cruises and Royal Carribbean all have a presence at this year's show - and they're all angling for Irish business. Winter in the Med offers the best deals.
It's not just ocean cruises. Uniworld River Cruises has 2-for-1 offers plus a further €150 per booking discount if booked at the show. Stand: H10
Celebrity Cruises, which can be booked with Tour America (touramerica.ie), is offering free drinks packages, select European flights from €99pp and buy-one-get-one-half-price on select European sailings. Stand: B9/C9
Stay at home
Don't forget the holiday potential right here on our doorstep. From Kinsale to Kilkenny, Wicklow to Donegal, there's a huge range of Irish destinations - and each has their own offerings in terms of discounts, competitions and deals.
Holiday World is in its 27th year, and bumper January bookings see the organisers "confidently expect" an increase in visitor numbers.
For more info, see holidayworldshow.com.