by Isabel Conway –
We meet Declan Hughes, founder and director of Limerick based online travel agency www.FlyCruiseStay.com which has just won the title of Best Online Travel Agency 2019 – Republic of Ireland in the 2019 LUX Travel & Tourism Awards. The prestigious awards cover markets from travel agencies to food and beverage, accommodation, tours, etc., taking in the whole travel and hospitality sector, honouring the expertise of key players.
Who are you?
A total travel addict who has a very understanding wife! Married with two great kids, living in my home city of Limerick.
What do you do?
Turning my passion into profit by owning and operating www.FlyCruiseStay.com . Publishing special offers, sales, marketing, P.R., networking and travelling!
What sets you apart?
Simply by being very passionate about travel, I designed a travel website which saves our valued portfolio of clients time and money on travel.
What attracted you first to the travel business?
My love of all things travel. People, destinations, culture, flying, food and wine, art, design, fashion, outdoors, nature, nice weather. Travel fuses all these elements together which makes you feel like you’re living! I also found when I booked my holiday I paid 50% less than most people and when I returned from our honeymoon to Paris, Dubai,The Maldives and Sri Lanka, having sourced the very best deals independently and paying a lot less, I told my wife we were going to start a travel business, so www.FlyCruiseStay.com came into being which we designed the travel website based on our registered trade marked tag line ‘Fly High Pay Low’.
Did you always want to work in travel If so, why?
No, my first job was actually working in a cash and carry. Then I went on to sell chocolate, followed by computers! Now having found my true calling, it is and hopefully will always be – travel!
Is yours niche or mainstream travel?
We are mainstream with a twist, offering many advantages of booking through www.FlyCruiseStay.com such as pricing cruises in USD which can be better value than those priced in EUR,, offering the lowest price promise in car hire at over 53,000 outlets and smart rate technology plus loyalty points on hotel bookings.
What are the top spots to visit in 2019 and why?
Having had the good fortune to visit over 100 Countries and Islands to date, there are plenty to choose. Hot Air ballooning in Cappadocia,Turkey was fun, as well as white water rafting where the Ganges is in its purest form from the ice caps near Rishikesh, India at the foothills of the Himalayas to heading out on safari to either South Africa’s northern cape in the Kalahari to adventure deep into Ngorongoro crater at the heart of Tanzania’s Serengeti. I’m also a big fan of Key West in Florida, which is well worth a visit, if only as a day trip during a Caribbean cruise.
What are emerging trends/ countries with great tourism potential ? (Experience/activity/digital de-tox??)
Wellness, or should I say the term Soulfulness as people wish to escape the fast pace of this tech driven world where we are always connected through the internet. In a world where robots are becoming more human and humans becoming almost more and more robotic, there is a yearning to just switch off. Kuredu island in the Maldives offer a no shoes – no news program which I loved visiting with my wife. Barefoot luxury is good for mind, body and soul too with resorts offering natural feel good wellness programs, whilst caring for not only you, but Mother nature also, therefore responsible and substantiable travel and tourism are thankfully taking centre stage too.
Name someone in Ireland travel industry you admire?
Eoghan Corry from Travel Extra as the man is so informative and he is as genuine as they come. His knowledge, personality and passion for travel is exemplary. I always said what Bill gates is to computers, Eoghan Corry is to travel. His views are unbiased, relevant and very informative. The man is an absolute legend. I have the highest admiration and respect for Eoghan.
What is the best thing about running your online travel company?
Believe me when I say, there are many. Creating happy customers is one and having those very customers come back time and again as well as recommend www.FlyCruiseStay.com to family and friends makes me feel quite humble. Travelling this big and still very beautiful world and meeting people working in the industry is another huge bonus.
And the worst?
Sometimes seeing poverty on a monumental scale. Particularly where children and the elderly are concerned. It is such a huge shock, no matter how many times you might get to witness human beings who live in such conditions while some tourists enjoy five-star extravagance. I can never understand how some countries invest billions in military spending and allow their own to go without, enduring malnourishment, pain, hunger and suffering.
What do you never travel without?
Hate to say it but my phone, an LG X Cam as it is also a good built in camera like all phones these days. It is very useful to stay in touch with home too (mostly for free via the hotels Wi-fi using What’s App, Viber or Messenger).