The 2015 Rugby World Cup is now just around the corner, with the first match scheduled for 18th September. For the duration of the six-week long tournament, the spotlight will be firmly on host country England, with organisers predicting up to 86,000 visitors from Australasia alone.
60 of Australia’s top travel agents have had the opportunity, thanks to Qantas Holidays’ “Race Around the UK and Ireland”, to experience firsthand the excitement of the lead-up to the Rugby World Cup and to bring home their own personal experiences of England and the rest of the United Kingdom to share with their clients.
As one of the top sales producers for Qantas Airways and Qantas Holidays over the qualifying period, TravelManagers’ Nannette Gledhill, representative for Port Douglas in Queensland, was one of the agents who qualified for the Ireland famil. Her team competed against the three other teams (England, Scotland and Wales), on itineraries that were designed to showcase the history, culture and cuisine of each destination.
“We had the most amazing guide from Tourism Ireland, and a great coach driver – they were so knowledgeable and went out of their way to be helpful (including really getting into helping us complete our challenges!)” says Gledhill.
TravelManagers’ Kerrin Poupos, representative for Warragul, Victoria, competed against Gledhill, joining Team England on an itinerary that included a Premier League football game, a walking tour of Birmingham’s famous canals and a visit to the ancient Roman spa town of Bath.
“The whole experience was great and gave me a real understanding of the destination. I learned how efficient the regional rail services are, and just how passionate the English are about their football.”
Each day the teams were required to solve clues relating to what they had seen. At the conclusion of the race, the teams attended a gala dinner back in London, where the team that submitted the most correct answers was declared the winner.
Poupos’ team came second equal with Team Wales, with Team Scotland being declared the winner, but Poupos confirms the experience was a win for all four teams.
“I was able to take part in experiences that I would never have thought to do were it not for this trip,” she says.
“We stayed in a vast range of accommodation from a design/boutique hotel in Dublin to a modern 4.5 star hotel in Galway, not to mention castles and five-star country estates. I will definitely be returning, although next time in summer!”
Fiona Dalton, Head of Sales Qantas Holidays, was equally thrilled with the Race. She says the support of key tourism bodies Tourism Ireland, VisitScotland, VisitWales, VisitEngland, VisitBritain, as well as Qantas, Cheval Residences and London’s Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotels, were pivotal to the success of the major initiative.
“We are so grateful for the amazing support of the tourism bodies in helping to facilitate the incredible itineraries organised for our participants, and for ensuring everything ran so smoothly,” she says. “We are thrilled that our participants were able to see and experience as much of the countryside and culture as they did in one short week.”
“After hearing so many great stories at the Gala Dinner and seeing the fantastic images captured along their journeys, we are positive their knowledge and experiences will be shared with many customers and colleagues,” Dalton adds.
For Gledhill, the opportunity to participate in the Race will be paying dividends long after the final whistle has blown for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
“I always knew Ireland was a destination that everyone raved about but now I understand why – and I can pass on that enthusiasm and first-hand experience to my clients.”
For more information or to speak to someone confidentially about TravelManagers please contact Suzanne Laister on 1800 019 599.