Rachel Gaffney’s Letter From Texas - Staying Relevant During Covid-19.

Her clients may all have cancelled their trips to Ireland this year - but, says the famous foodie who’s flying the tricolour for us in Texas, this is the time to inspire people with content, ideas and itineraries.  


I was watching this happen in China and Europe. We knew, somehow, that it was only a matter of time before it would affect us also, here in Texas. The week prior to St Patrick’s Day, they cancelled the parades and that was when my life and the lives of others changed because of the Covid-19 virus. Up until this point, I was struggling to keep my head above water. From the surface everything looked calm, while beneath I was paddling feverishly simply trying to keep up. Clients were calling almost daily to book trips to Ireland and I had already exceeded 2019’s sales figures by March. Indeed this was going to be a great year for travel to Ireland. Today, I cancelled the last of the pending trips for June and arranged refunds.

Things are different. Things are going to continue to be different. Yesterday, I heard someone saying, when all this is over, we will learn about new companies, new products and new ways of doing business. It is during a crisis that innovation also appears.

How do you continue to remain relevant in the travel business when nobody is travelling? This is the time to share even more content, ideas and itineraries. This is the time when people have time to read about your hotel, café or antique store. This is the time people need to know that when this is all over they can walk the Waterford Camino experience with Dr Phil and Elaine. Perhaps a mountain trail one day, an old coastal pilgrim path another or a cliff walk.

People will want to know where to go and what to do. They, like me, will be dreaming of wide open spaces and freedom. Breathing in sea air, whether it be cold, hot or stormy. We want to the freedom of experiencing these weather conditions by choice.

It began with a Facebook live baking class on March 17. Yes, live from my kitchen in Dallas, people tuned in from around the United States and we all baked Soda Bread together for 30 minutes. During these 30 minutes, people connected with me. They asked questions and shared their baking tips. There was no sudden demand for soda bread recipes but there was and is a need to connect.

Last week, we baked scones. One lady sent me a photograph of her scones, packed and ready for the physicians’ lounge at her husband's hospital. Another lady created a video of her 10 year old son baking and how he came up with his own soda bread creations.

While baking, we talk about Ireland. I talk about the food in Ireland and mention people and places I know and love. We talked about cookbooks and I shared a link to JP McMahon’s ‘The Irish Cookbook’, recently released.

Now is the time to tell people about the beaches, the mountains, lakes, hotels and museums. Now is the time to share Instagram Pages you love, Twitter accounts to follow and websites to visit. When the time comes…..and it will…people will want to get on the planes and trains and boats and travel and feel alive again. Now is the time to stay relevant.



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