“Travel agents are the heart of our business”
Susan Black, Chief Commercial Officer, CIE Tours

“Travel agents are the heart of our business”

“Travel agents are the heart of our business”

Susan Black, Chief Commercial Officer, CIE Tours

CIE Tours has thousands of departure dates to Ireland and Britain – and more than a few to other top destinations like Iceland and Italy too. The depth of CIE’s tours allows for more unique and immersive experiences, says CIE’s Chief Commercial Officer, Susan Black, in this edition of Friday 5.

1. CIE Tours is one of the travel industry’s true Ireland & Britain experts. How long has CIE been selling Ireland & Britain and how many tours does the company have to these destinations, and with what range of travel styles?

“CIE Tours has been around since 1932 – before Ireland was even established as a republic!

“We offer a great range of options – for those who want guided vacations, we have over 50 scheduled tour itineraries, with thousands of departure dates to Ireland and Britain.

“For those who already have a group of any size they want to travel with, we can offer a range of options: a block of seats on a guided tour, a preset itinerary on a coach or with a private driver all to themselves, or a totally customized trip of their dreams.

“Some people prefer the freedom of driving themselves – we can offer a variety of self-drive options, either custom or set itineraries, with accommodations ranging from luxurious castles, cozy country inns or homey B&Bs.”

2. Ireland & Britain get so much repeat business. For the traveller who thinks they’ve seen it all in these destinations, what can CIE offer with their in-depth tours that will really open their eyes to new experiences?

“The depth of our tours allows for more unique and immersive experiences, plus stops to less travelled destinations.

“I love our new special event debuting this year: ‘St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin: The Wearing of the Green’. Our guests start the day with a private tour of the parade floats. Next, they have exclusive access to Dublin’s General Post Office (GPO), the most historic, iconic building in the city for a private pre-parade party. Then they can step right outside to a private viewing area at the best spot on the parade route. With other days touring Dublin, the beautiful Wicklow Mountains and the fascinating ruins of Glendalough, the tour is six days of fun, history and wonder.

“The Taste of Wales takes travellers to a less-travelled and stunning part of Britain with unique legends, castles, food and music. Perhaps people would be surprised to learn that Wales is the nation with the most castles per square mile, and we love showing them the splendor of Cardiff Castle, which was spectacularly refurbished in Victorian times.

“The Outer Hebrides: Scotland’s Gaelic West will take the adventurous traveller well off the beaten path and onto a series of islands rich in traditional culture and heritage – they’ll visit ancient ruins, meet traditional craftspeople who make Harris Tweed in their own cottages, smell the burning peat at a traditional smokehouse and sample some of the local whisky.
“Our most immersive new tour is The Irish Foodie tour, which is a great opportunity to explore Ireland’s farm-to-table food culture, and taste the flavors that come out of this rich, green landscape. Guests will visit a farm for artisanal goat cheeses, meet one of Ireland’s finest chocolatiers, join a lively cook-off at Dublin’s best cooking school, take a fun excursion on the shore to sample nutritious sea vegetables, plus a whole lot more.”

3. What’s selling particularly well for CIE so far for 2019, to Ireland & Britain, and is CIE seeing a good booking window with plenty of travellers taking advantage of early booking deals?

“To your question above about keeping things fresh, we are seeing a lot of interest in the Wild Atlantic Way tour that circles the entire island of Ireland and marries fascinating history and insight into traditional Irish life with magnificent views.

“Pop culture also plays a role. Many guests want to learn more about Outlander’s fictitious Jamie Fraser on our Scottish Clans & Castles tour. Also, the Mary Queen of Scots movie has been attracting guests to Scotland.

“We’ve had exciting offers in the market for the 2019 season, so we have seen strong bookings. Please visit our website regularly and sign up for our e-newsletter to keep on top of the best offers for your customers and agent incentives.”

4. For agents who might not know CIE’s full range of product, what destinations does the company offer in addition to Ireland & Britain?

“This year we’ve introduced Iceland and Italy, on top of our legacy destinations of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales.

“We still maintain our focused service approach that began in Ireland is at the heart of CIE’s operations in all its destinations.
“Our Irish and British native local guides extensively trained our Icelandic and Italian local guides, so that the in-destination experience is the high-quality CIE way regardless of the country. No matter where they come with CIE Tours, our Tour Directors will be giving our guests the warmest of welcomes, all the local lore, and a level of service that will ensure their utmost enjoyment.”

5. How does CIE Tours work with agents – how important are travel agents to CIE?

“Travel agents are the heart of our business. If you aren’t familiar with us, I would recommend doing three things…

  • Sign up for our e-newsletters so you receive our best offers and materials on a regular basis
  • Take either our Shamrock or Britain education course
  • Contact your local BDM to find out how to do more together, including agent trainings and Travel Chats for your customers

“Also, our contact centre is staffed every day and we’ve also introduced Live Chat on our website – to help you get answers quickly. We often have agent incentive programs running on top of commission. We offer travel agent rates on our tours.”