Posted by Diane Bouzebiba (Managing Director, Amadeus UK and Ireland)
A person who has always given me good advice once said to me: “Don’t assume anything. Go out and understand what the market is doing and what the key actors are saying.” Wise words, which explain why I am standing in the main street in Dublin, in the pouring rain and raging wind at the end of a tiring, interesting, and extremely entertaining whistle stop tour of Ireland.
As many will recognise, Ireland is suffering the deepest recession in living memory. The ‘Celtic Tiger’ growls no more. In fact it barely mews these days.
There is no better example of this than to look in the windows of local estate agents at the house prices that have fallen by 50-60% over the last 4 years. Taxes are at record levels with new ones coming into play as I write.
With less money in people’s pockets, and businesses battening down the hatches simply to survive, you could be forgiven for thinking that the travel industry is one that is the most depressed. Don’t get me wrong, agents are suffering and many have pulled down the shutters over the last few years. But those who have survived are optimistic, determined and are showing an entrepreneurial spirit that I have rarely seen in other walks of life. Against an extremely morose economic background, what I have seen this week has filled me with pride at being a partner to this extremely entrepreneurial, switched-on business community.
Over the course of the next few days, we will meet, amongst others, a Dublin business leader hedging his bets by having many ‘irons in the fire’ just to keep his business going and his staff in employment; a highly professional business manager interested in furthering current business in far-flung markets that are slowly emerging from a history of government repression; plus a travel journalist interested in understanding what a fundamental difference Amadeus can make in this market. Throughout the whole week I have been very proud to see how the Amadeus teams have contributed time, expertise, technology and of course support to our customers.
I hope you will follow my visits throughout the week and, as ever, look forward to your comments.
(Editor’s note, this trip took place w/c 23 April 2012, but updates will be posted daily for ease of reading from 1 May.)