Irish Examiner (Business Supplement)
13th July 2007
Why Gulliver is a giant in the tourism trade
Stewart Stephens tell Geoff Percival how Gulliver.ie has successfully become the biggest booking agency for hotels and B&Bs in Ireland
The online tourist accommodation website Gulliver is celebrating its 10th anniversary by becoming the most-used outlet for room bookings in Ireland.
More hotel and Bed and Breakfasts (B&B) bookings are made through Gulliver Ireland than any other organisation in the country, according to Dr Stewart Stephens, the company's managing director.
The Company has handled more than 1.2 million bookings worth more than €250m since its inception in 1997.
"Back then Gulliver was only seen in tourist offices and holidays were booked through travel agents. Today, Gulliver is the leading organisation in the country for hotel and B&B bookings. Last year we made over 80,000 hotel and guesthouse bookings - valued at almost €17m - and over 50,000 B&B bookings worth almost €7m", said Dr Stephens.
"We've achieved market leadership at a time when key industry developments have changed the face of Irish tourism over the past 10 years".
Hotel bookings in Ireland have soared during this period.
The hotel sector has grown its share of overall tourism bookings through Gulliver from 16% in 1997 to 33% in 2002, to a situation last year where almost half (47%) of all Gulliver tourism bookings were for hotels.
This remarkable growth is a function of phenomenal hotel development throughout the country and the attendant rise in the range, availability and value-for-money of hotel bedrooms as well as the added-value product they provide.
"As a company based in rural Ireland we are particularly pleased at what we have achieved in the B&B sector, at a time when some commentators are sounding the B&B death-knell. Our view is that a first-class B&B product can be just as competitive and successful in 2007 as any other type of tourism accommodation" he added.
In the 10 years since it was set up a number of new trends have emerged in Irish tourism - not jus how people book, but where they book and what kind of establishment they book into.
Dublin and the West have been the two most-booked regions in the country (but Dublin's share of the county-by-county marked has dropped from 45% to 35%) and townhouse, country houses and self-catering apartments have joined hotels and guesthouses as favourites.
Three star hotels have been the most popular hotel grade since the beginning of the decade.
"The years of Gulliver's existence have witnessed a plethora of tourism websites and booking systems come and in many cases, go. The best feedback on our performance is the value we give our members properties. Ten years on our membership continues to grow and we now process bookings for almost 8,000 Irish properties." added Dr Stephens.