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Posted by on Jun 28, 2010 in Headlines, Polls | 48 comments

What Would Get You to Ireland This Year?

I’m getting together with the folks at Tourism Ireland tomorrow, and I thought you might have an idea or two you would like me to deliver.

Ask yourself, “What would make booking a trip to Ireland in 2010 irresistable?”

In the comments section below, tell me…

  • What types of things get you dreaming about Ireland?
  • What would it take to get you to Ireland this year? (Oh, and since there is NO FREE TRIP on the table, you’ll need to get creative — Is there something else that would make cause you to throw caution to the wind and start planning a trip? Is there a service or experience that could be offered that would woo you over? Put your innovation caps on!)
  • What is holding you back from travel in the next 6 months? 12 months?
  • Have you noticed some things other destinations doing that is getting your attention and maybe even getting you to consider a visit there this year?

These questions are coming from me… not Tourism Ireland, and I’m hoping Irish Firesiders can bring some new ideas to the Tourism Ireland… and in turn help more people have Ireland stories to share.

I’ll report back to let you know how things go.

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48 Comments

  1. Good deals on car hire! We’ve been pricing trips and finding lots of deals on flights and lodging, but no deals on car rentals.

  2. WE HATE THE CAR RENTAL COMPANIES WHO GIVE TOURISTS THE “BUSINESS”

    I am going to Ireland no matter what because my spring trip was delayed by the Iceland volcano. Since I plan trips to Ireland for other people and have my own Ireland Travel Forum I know what average people are dealing with.

    The worst part of planning a trip to Ireland is the car rental. It is like running into a brick wall. There are so many arcane rules, upgrades, insurances, fine print, holds on credit cards, extra charges on credit cards, rules for declining CDW, extra charges for declining CDW. The list does not end. EVERY Car Rental company has their own rules. In order to rent a car in Ireland you have to spend days or weeks figuring it all out. But even when you think you have it all figured out the car companies will sock it to you on arrival. The price can quickly double or triple.

    Ireland needs to standardize the regulations for car rental companies. They should all dance to the same piper. Right now it is a free-for-all and tourists are the losers. The tourists are dancing to the car companies’ tune.

    I monitor many different Ireland related travel forums on the Internet. Lately I see discussions of car rentals in Ireland where people just give up. They say “I can go to another country, get a reasonable car rental and not have to jump through a thousand hoops to rent a car. Forget Ireland! I will go somewhere else.”

    I don’t think that Tourism Ireland, Failte Ireland or the Minister of Tourism knows about the reality of renting a car in Ireland. Most of them are Irish. They do not see it from a tourist’s perspective.

    When people write complaint letters to those in authority they get very nice “form letters” back suggesting they contact the Car Rental Council in Ireland (who represents the car companies – not consumers). In turn the Car Rental Council tells consumers to work it out with their car company. It is a never-ending carousel ride with no conclusion…except that the consumer loses every time.

    I now step down from my soapbox. Thank you for letting me vent.

    Michele

  3. Two things: First of all, I agree with the comments on car rentals. Additionally, we were traveling between the Republic and Northern Ireland and got socked with a huge fee to take our rental North.

    Yuck. While I understand we were taking the car to another country, there are many cross-border tourism initiatives, and I would think this might be a possible place for compromise.

    While we could have just kept quiet about our destinations, the insurance would not have covered any accidents north of the border.

    Second; we might not be looking in the right places to find one, but we would be hard-pressed to resist a Foodie tour. Wow. We’ve had amazing food in Ireland the last few years and would enjoy grazing through the local produce and seafood on an organized tour. Burren lamb is my roommate’s favorite, while I am always up for seafood.

  4. From a culture and Heritage perspective: The undiscovered parts of Ireland can have just as much appeal as the better known places such as Newgrange and Tara. There is also the unique aspect – if you have been before, and seen these sites, why not visit the untouched and largely unexplored equivalents of these sites? The tourist is rarer, and therefore more cherished, in the more out of the way places, especially Roscommon, parts of the midlands and West that don’t see the usual tourist traffick routes pass by. All in all, this makes for a more genuine experience, an authentic slice of ireland that is incomparable to anywhere else in the world, car rental issues notwithstanding!

    Cary Meehans Book “The travellers Guide to Sacred Ireland” is excellent, divided by county, though some of the info could do with an update.

    And now for the shameless plug of Rathcroghan, the Celtic Royal Site of the western province of Connacht (you did invite comment!):

    The Rathcroghan Complex contains over 200 archaeological sites within a 4 mile square area, with ceremonial and domestic use going back over 8000 years. That is 3000 years older than the pyramids! Cruachan or Rathcroghan was one of only 3 major burial grounds of Ireland (along with Telltown and Newgrange), and was later famed for being the home of Celtic Warrior Queen Maeve – the starting point and scene of the bloody climax of our best known epic tale, the Tain Bo Cuailgne or Cattle Raid of Cooley.

    Cruachan Aí Heritage Centre is situated in the Medieval village of Tulsk, Co Roscommon, within the Rathcroghan complex, Seat of Gaelic Kingship for the entire province of Connacht. We offer interpretation and exploration of this region, declared more important than Tara (Prof. John Waddell, NUI Galway, June 2009), through our lively guided tours and exhibition rooms. Our River cafe serves hot and cold beverages, scones/cakes and light lunch, with complimentary WiFi access for your laptop. Our Craft and Book shop offers a stunning collection of local artwork, plus relevant and interesting books, magazines, and other gift items to suit all tastes.

    We are located right on the main Dublin to Westport N5 route, just beside where it intersects with the Roscommon to Boyle N61.
    GPS co-ordinates are: N 53.77909 W 8.25423

    We also offer:
    • Car and coach parking facilities
    • Wheelchair access and facilities
    • Bright, clean toilet facilities
    • Child friendly activities and facilities
    • External fully Insured Tour Guide services for Groups; extensive sites to visit, routes planned, special interests catered for
    • Self Guide Information leaflets available in other languages
    • Local Genealogy information
    • Conference/Meeting Room facilities

    We run regular events, workshops, classes and festivals, details are always available in the events section on our Facebook Page: http://www.Facebook.com/Rathcroghan

    We can provide special interest events and activities by arrangement, such as Living History and Combat Re-enactment demonstrations, Talks and workshops such as “Archaeology for Beginners” and “Irish Mythology”, and can provide a knowledgeable local Tour Guide should you wish to sample our recommended Driving Route of the surrounding sites.

    We highly recommend including Strokestown House in your agenda – less than 10 minutes away along the main N5. Indeed, Cruachan Aí have a special offer agreement with the other top 4 Roscommon visitor attractions (Arigna Mining Experience, King House, Strokestown House and Famine Museum, and Lough Key Forest Park) which provides 20% off admission to the other 4 when you visit us!

    See some of our pictures on http://www.cruachanai.com or http://www.cruachanai.blogspot.com
    Email Enquiries@cruachanai.com or ring us on 00353 71 9639268 for more information.

  5. Car hire is the main problem but a little research can get the costs down, there are companies who do not charge extra for crossing the border but all will charge heavily for dropping in what is essentially another county. There are several points for advice, I regularly offer advice on Trip Advisor as do many others. There are Official bodies in Ireland available for advice and these need to become better known. Ireland can no longer rely on people coming simply because it is Ireland. Hotels have suffered under the financial climate but there is no excuse for poorly trained staff and poor housekeeping, they also need to respond to the recession by pricing as such. Some Hotels have a worse attitude towards financial problems than the Banks, It is not the tourists at fault for refusing to pay what are sometimes totally excessive prices. B&B can be had for €35/40 pppn so why pay up to €80 just because the B&B is in one of the tourist magnets.

  6. If they had free family research classes for people when they get there, I would sign up in a heartbeat. I want to learn more about my family, but don’t want to spend the whole trip trying to figure out what to do.

  7. For us, a great air fare would do the trick!

  8. My brother-in-law works for the airlines, so I know they are cutting capacity instead of prices.

    If there was a way of offering a cash incentive… like one of those prepaid credit cards that I could use in Ireland to help offset the cost of airfare, it would really influence my decision. Maybe it’s a credit that can only be used at specific businesses.

    Every penny put into that program would be spent in Ireland. It would have to be a worthwhile amount though… like $500. Or even better, $1,000 if you book this month and less each month after that.

  9. FREE NIGHT IN A CASTLE.

  10. I more than agree about the car rental. It is way too much and they charge almost double for a automatic. It is difficult enough to try and change the side of the road you drive on and then have to get a stick shift because it is way too much for the automatic.

    If they would have a special during the Christmas New Year travel time on the airlines I would get a ticket for myself and my daughter to be in Ireland for Christmas.

    I read somthing about vouchers for Amricans with Irish Heritage but do not think that is in place yet.

    Instead of charging Americans the vat tax and then having to get it back at the end of the trip. I usually loose my tickets and really not sure how to get them at all the shops. They should take it off your bill by showing them your passport.

  11. Continued strength in $. There 2 years ago 1.60 rate Ugh. Better now 1.22 Didn’t like paying $7/pint. Car insurance is crazy too.

  12. One great idea the Scottish government did last year was host a series of “Welcome Home” events during a year that was specifically designed to welcome back their diaspora. I think giving that extra bit of attention to our diaspora would be a positive step. Evan’s idea of family research classes would slot nicely into that. Scotland had a big programme of festivals, a conference, sporting events – it was really popular and they’re hosting it again in a couple of years. It would be wonderful to welcome our diaspora in a really active way.

  13. I agree that the car rentals are the worst part of going to Ireland. We like driving around, taking our time and lingering where we feel like lingering. But I always, always feel stung by the car rental agencies. Every time we come, even though we reserve our car ahead of time, we end up paying at least twice what we were guaranteed. That’s depressing. But we are coming for a month this year anyway.

  14. Car rental issues. I’m heading back on a fully escorted tour and then spending five nights in Dublin. I can’t see myself renting a car again in Ireland…it was a bad experience. However, I wouldn’t tell someone not to go because of the poor experience I would tell them to do their research and read all the fine print…Ireland is beautiful and seeing it by car is wonderful!

  15. Another issue I have is I never got my VAT refund! (I think that’s what it’s called). I went through all the work of and jumping through hoops at the airport and NOTHING!!! That’s frustrating!

  16. Two things, I’d like to see: One Ireland cannot control, the other it may be able to influence.

    First, I was there two years ago when it cost me 1.60 per Euro. Crazy. A pint was around 7U.S. So either the $ has to continue strengthening against the Euro–I see it is 1.22 now–which I don’t think the folks in Ireland can do much about, nor do a large number of the Irish financial folks care to witness or, the tourist industry can furiously begin packaging deals.

    Second, someone has to do something about car rentals and car insurance. What a colossal ripoff! It is the one thing that absolutely infuriates me about coming to Ireland. The cost of insurance is usurious. I am not one for gov’t intervention although if the country wants to attract me I think they should try to initiate some form of pressure. Personally, my form of protest is either not renting when I’m there or stay home.

    Ireland did a great job promoting itself during the Celtic Tiger; however, times have changed and I think they need a new approach. Sometimes with financial success comes “attitude”, however, hopefully, the country’s financial hardship will engender some humility.

  17. I love the previous person’s comment about the Foodie Tour! That would bring us back in an instant…along with a great fly/drive rate. We like the ‘do-it-yourself’ method of travelling the path not trod by the usualy tour groups.

  18. I loooooooove the idea of getting invited to a welcome home party while in Ireland. Nothing fancy, just a chance for tourists and locals to mingle. But don’t just do it in Dublin… there’s too much to do there, and I’d be afraid I couldn’t find where the party was.

  19. I love some of the ideas posted. I need something that fit a simple budget. So if I can only afford to stay in the states each year. Get me to Ireland AGAIN!!!!! Also, knitting is so big right now, how about a trip that offers that as a focus. I know there are golfing trips. Do one with a focus on the beautiful fibers that are made in Ireland, the woolens, tatting … I personally crochet and would find something like this intriguing!

  20. Money is the only reason I am not traveling this year…saving up for 2011 when I will take daughter and two granddaughters for their initial Taste of Ireland.

    Of course the car rental is the biggest headache….so I will just cowgirl up, rent a manual and pay for the CDW; get Super CDW from an independent company.

    Incentives, and ones well publicized and easy to use, could make a big difference in where we go and what we do.

    Naturally airfare is by far the biggest component of our budget, but Tourism Ireland can’t do much about that. I like the idea of “rebate” cards, though.

    I really like the idea of instant refund of VAT…if they can do it when you have items shipped, they should be able to do it for items you take with you, by showing your passport.

  21. Winning the lottery…but look out june 2011…I will be there for sure!..On a serious note, I think the higher airfares and the auto rental hassle are serious detractors for most who visit

  22. i’d go to a welcome home party. or if I could get a coupon for a welcome home pint at the local pub. i think that would be a great conversation starter in the pub.

    raymond desmond

  23. I would love to see a Ireland Tour that focuses on Castles, their history, how they were constructed, importance to area they reside.

  24. Everyone has said it! Better car rental rates, or at least standardized across companies… and with guarantees that your reservation price will equal the price you actually pay. I can get decent airfare and great rates on cottage rental… but then adding the car is just too expensive and nebulous. (Can’t imagine an independent vacation without a car!)

  25. This is a great idea (mentioned by Barbara above) and one I would love to see implemented.
    Instead of charging Americans the vat tax and then having to get it back at the end of the trip. {cut} They should take it off your bill by showing them your passport.

  26. While I’ve never had to pay a penny more for my car hire than I expected to when I reserved the car, the cost of the rental is way too high. I would especially love to see the cost of full CDW reduced. I get a manual shift car and the insurance is just as much as the car rental itself. That is insane!

  27. Direct flights from Greensboro, Charlotte or Raleigh, North Carolina USA to Shannon.

    Flights from Shannon to the US that do not depart before 11am. With flights departing earlier than 11am, you do not have time to enjoy breakfast at the B&B.

  28. On car hire, how about a 75% refund of the insurance charges when a car is returned with no damage?

    Better rental car maintenance. A few days into our holiday in September ’09, I found that the (Avis) car’s brake fluid level was down to the “Add” level. We later met a couple who had to return their rental car (agency unknown) after the brakes made a loud noise, followed by grinding.

  29. Question about rental car insurance: credit cards will cover the additional insurance for rentals in the US and several other countries, except for Ireland. Any idea for this exclusion?

  30. I’m probably too late on this but, for me, AIRFARE is the #1 issue keeping us from getting to Ireland this year. Since Aer Lingus moved their hub out of LAX the prices as well as the amount of time it takes to get to Ireland is practically out of reach. With tickets sticking at $1000+ each it’s just too expensive. Add a car rental for a couple of weeks and it’s approaching, if not at, $4K for the two of us and we haven’t even arrived yet!

  31. I would like to see flights available to Ireland from more airports,instead of flying out Philadelphia , I had to go to New York. I was considering a package to self drive in Ireland but now I am very concerned about the car rental included in the package after reading most of the posts.

  32. I don’t think prices will be going up much next year, so there isn’t much reason rebook right now (we cancelled because of volcano fears). It would have to be something extraordinary.

  33. I remember reading about a Christmas Market in Limerick last year. If that was going on again and had Irish-made gifts, I would consider a winter trip when the prices are down.

  34. A full-time job!

    I love to travel but have been unable to take my trips to Europe since the recession hit us here in America!

  35. it is too late to be useful but i just wanted to share something about the rental car rip off….

    i just went online to get a quote for car rental in ireland…dan dooley car rental…

    the smallest car was quoted, 16 days which is what i take when going to ireland….i was quoted $1011.20 then i emailed them for rate on super cdw that you have to buy or they put a huge hold (1500-2000 euro) on your credit card…that cost is 23 euro per day, ($434.43), total $1445.63….if it’s an automatic $1674.46 plus the same super cdw insurance for a total of $2108.89…

    i used to go to ireland every year…now i go about every 3 years because it has become apparent, not the people, but the buinesses do not appreciate our business…they see us as a tool to steal from us….this insurance rate is more than i pay for a year at home….it’s out and out theft….

    also, sadly, the price of meals has more than doubled, sometime it’s triple…but since the prices were low compared to the u.s. we can just soak that up…..but the car rental is just taking advantage of the people who put money into ireland’s economy….

    it’s a shame…they just hurt the mom and pops…..

    so if they would rein in these thieves, i would go back to going every year…now it’s just not possible when i would have to pay more for a rental than 2 or 3 airline tickets cost, depending on standard or automatic….

  36. Simple: Getting invited to perform at a wedding or another gig there :-D

  37. Recently Tourism Ireland got an extra 2 million euro to spend on publicity. Instead of print ads and targeting tourist agents they could get an immense amount of free print publicity by giving everyone entering Ireland a $100 voucher to use as they choose at accommodations, pubs or restaurants. Make it like the “cash for clunkers” fund. When the 2 mill is gone the vouchers cease.

    How about giving everyone free Heritage passes for free sightseeing?

    Tourism Ireland needs to be creative. Do something different. They recently gave seniors in the UK discount vouchers. Give them to other nationalaties too.

    I like the idea of targeting the diasporia. They have distant ties to Ireland. Reel them in with offers.

  38. Oh, and I would like to fly into Shannon instead of being forced by the airlines to fly into Dublin. Yuck!

  39. Car hire costs have gone through the roof. I still visit, but I either don’t hire a car at all or I hire a car and have to shorten the visit to just 5-6 days instead of the 10-14 days I used to do.

  40. oh i agree with so many people here – the car rental, and the events like homecoming scotland did. i also love to find great food places (restaurants, markets) and so a more comprehensive listing of that would be GREAT, searchable by area.

    also, online listings for more businesses – fishing charters, or libraries, or horseback riding, etc. many of these are online, but not all.

    as well, we HAVE to be connected online while we travel, since all of our businesses are online. having internet is critical to us – we won’t stay anywhere that there isn’t any. that really cut our choices down, but we have found a great place to stay.

    YAY for this upcoming talk. thank you!

  41. If I was an enterprising, young man (I am neither) I would open a car rental company in Ireland, make it simple and reasonable to rent a car because that is the best way to see Ireland. I would welcome home with open arms the millions of Irish men & women around the world and in the process I would make millions just by simplifying the whole process and eliminating the mind boggling concerns that everyone has accurately described. They are in fact, ripping us off. I have in six of our previous eight trips to Ireland, paid from $12 to $18 per day for economy(Nissan Micra) to compact(Ford Focus). That was using my credit card to cover CDW when it was allowed. I also got ripped off one time paying 5-6 times that because I assumed wrongly that nothing had changed. I suggest calling all the car rentals early 6-8 months and getting all details and find, if you can, a credit card company that will cover your CDW. Or look for separate insurance (British possibly). Hopefully it is something the Irish tourist board or government will fix real soon. Jim Sanford

  42. Now for the nice suggestions. Turn back the clock to the days of the Irish Punt(Pound). I realize times have changed but to go from $60.00 per couple per night to more than $100-$120.00 for the same place in a matter of 2 years is not exactly friendly. Offer free admission tickets to major events (Galway Races, Oyster Festival, sights like Cashel, Bunratty Folk Park,discounts on weekly boat rentals up the Shannon). I second the suggestion on a major tourism effort to welcome home all people of Irish descent with special deals and genealogy assistance, and fixing the car rental problems is an absolute must. Jim Sanford

  43. Thank you for all for the comments. I’ll be working on a post on this topic after I get to Ireland.

    As far as car rental… I hear your concerns loud and clear.

    For those planning a trip, don’t be afraid of renting a car, just get educated. Find out what credit cards DO cover the insurance and what you need to do to use it and/or research what it would cost for the standard CDW vs Super CDW and the difference in coverage. When you know those rates, there tend to be much fewer surprises on the final bill.

    Read: 5 Things You Should Know Before Renting a Car in Ireland http://irishfireside.com/2009/08/14/carrentaltips/

    And if you’re still concerned about renting a car, well, follow my rail tour this summer and see if that might suit you.

    Thank you all for your ideas and input!

  44. What would get me to Ireland this year?

    1. Cost of a flight. My budget is not what is was 3 years ago when I paid $800. I would be there for $100 or less.

    2. Time! I can’t afford to be out of work for the amount of time I would want. I was only there for 5 days last time and that was not enough!

    Go gcuire Dia an t-ádh ort(Good luck to you)
    Hope this helps

  45. Its fascinating to see all the comments here from the visitor perspective. I also have taken some of these on board and passed them to car rental companies that we are in touch with, so perhaps that will go some way towards relieving the inconsistencies that visitors face.

    Lots of other great ideas here for tourism providers like ourselves in Beyond the Blarney to take account of. And obviously Failte Ireland are listening too. I read in yesterdays Irish Times that they are launching a new advertising campaign aimed at people in the USA who have Irish ancestry. The 1901 and 1911 Census for the whole of Ireland are now available on-line and free to search and download documents at http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie. Amazing amounts of information to be had there.

    Anyway – come on over and visit us. We may be in recession, but we still know how to have a good time!

  46. corey, there are only a few credit cards, and i mean a very few, that cover super cdw….i have zero credits cards for a reason, i am debt free with the exception of my home, and want to stay that way…i pay as i go, i use my debit card to pay for my trips…i save and save and save to be able to take a trip to ireland…and with this rip off from the rental car companies, it’s just getting more difficult to afford the trip, and even if i had unlimited funds, i hate being taken advantage of…

    now for the few cards that will cover insurance in ireland, that is all fine and well, but there is still a hold of $1500-2000 put on your card, then if there is an accident, they keep that money and you have to deal with reimbursement from you card company….

    what is all boils down to is, until the rental car companies quit stealing from those of us who come to put money into the irish economy, the trips will be few and far between….

    i used to spend too much money when in ireland, probably about $4000 went into purchases from the working folks in ireland…now i am out in excess of $2000.00 just to get there and get into a car…..2008 i paid $522.00 for a ticket, my rental car with super cdw cost me over $1200.00….it’s got to stop…or we won’t be there, and hopefully the rental car companies will go belly up which is what they deserve for not appreciating folks who love going back to the home of their heart, and constantly being taken advantage of…..

  47. I’m planning my trip to Ireland and have not run into any glitches. Yes, there are a few minor annoyances, but I’ve chalked that up to traveling abroad so it’s no big deal. As far car hire – I’m going through Avis for this trip (always use them) and their prices are very reasonable, even with extra insurance added – less expensive than when I travel in the US. I’m expecting to pay about $3-4k while over there (including airfare, castle lodging, car hire, etc) – that may sound high but to get the same high level of lodging in the US would cost me more, so I’m very pleased.

  48. i don’t know how long the poster is staying but i can tell you if they are taking 2 weeks, they will not get by with their $3000.00 or $4000.00 wish…that doesn’t sound high at all…now if they are going for a week you might do it….

    it’s well over $2000 to get airfare, rental car, and the super cdw insurance and they aren’t even out of the airport yet….if you add in castle lodging for two weeks, that will be well in excess of $2000…. more like close to $3000 or more…14 days at $200 is at that $3000 and you aren’t likely to get castle stays for $200 a day, if you do they will be few and far between….and that is no petrol at about $5.00 a gallon, no entrance fees for the sites of ireland, no food, no pub visits, ferry rides for car to save mileage, or to go to one of the islands off the coast of ireland, or no purchases to bring home to family and friends…..

    so please, please write another post about the castles if you have indeed been so lucky with great preices…i would love to do that myself and any assistance will be much appreciated….

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