With over 100 years experience in bringing people to Ireland, Irish Continental Group plc has entered the U.S. Internet travel market by opening a New York office, and launching its Ireland travel venture, wannabeinireland.com.
The website brings together two trends - the developing U.S. online travel industry, and the ever-present US-to-Ireland ethnic travel market.
Wannabeinireland.com`s entry into the U.S. market is somewhat unique - a European e-commerce venture opening an office in New York in this economic period, runs contrary to the current difficulties afflicting e-commerce companies. Until September 11th, travel was one of the few remaining jewels of ecommerce. To weather the economic doubt after September 11th, Wannabeinireland is fortunate to have has a solid Ethnic market of Irish people living in the U.S.A. who travel to Ireland reasonably frequently, and need such a service. Additionally, there are an estimated 44 million Irish-Americans, many of whom feel a strong attachment to the land of their ancestors.
Wannabeinireland.com is the first of Irish Continental Group`s plans to rollout speciality European sites. A study by customer research house Cpulse in November 2000 found that its good to be niche, with new users of specialty travel sites up 82%, and 80% of visitors to these niche sites saying that they would use them again. Ireland has always been popular among the estimated 44 million Americans of Irish descent, as well as the general American traveller to Ireland. Approximately one million Americans visited Ireland in 2000, according to the Irish Tourist Board, and most recent figures estimate that 60% of visitors were visiting the lands of their ancestors, spending approximately $500 million. After September 11th, these figures may not grow in the same manner as recent years, but Ireland remains a safe, known destination.
The site enables travellers a choice of bookings from thousands of flights a month to Ireland, using all the major carriers including Aer Lingus, Continental, Delta, and United Airlines. Travellers can also combine their air itinerary with a choice of over 5000 different lodgings including castles, farmhouses, hotels, guesthouses, and bed & breakfasts (B&B`s) online. If travellers need car-rental in Ireland, they can book it on the wannabeinireland.com site, together with Ireland-Britain car ferries, as well as arranging travel insurance - all instantly booked online in one easy transaction. Irish Continental Group teamed up with Datalex to bring the latest advances in booking technology to the wannabeinireland.com site.
Irish Continental Group is a transport and leisure group with headquarters in Dublin. Its shares are quoted on the London and Dublin Stock Exchanges. In 2000 Irish Continental Group had turnover in excess of Euro 300 million (Approximately USD273 million at current exchange rates).