Rachel Gaffney’s Letter From Texas

The famous foodie who’s flying the tricolour for us in Texas anticipates a new world of travel as we gradually emerge from Covid restrictions – and it’s one in which Ireland has a lot to offer 

As we near the end of 2020, we are still dealing with exhaustion, defeat, submission and frustration. Looking ahead to 2021, we know that travel has changed. People’s travel habits have changed. They may not know this yet, as most have not left their own neighbourhoods, let alone their own country, but once they board a plane or ship for the first time, they will notice the changes. Some people will be ready to travel without any fear, some will be overly cautious and others will not want to travel at all.

This now means people in the hospitality industry will be welcoming, serving and dealing with a new kind of customer. I have experienced this in the last few months. Acceptance will play a key part in recovery.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines acceptance as
1) The action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered.
2) The process or fact of being received as adequate, valid or suitable
3) Agreement with or belief in an idea or explanation
3.1) Willingness to tolerate a difficult situation

Willingness to tolerate a difficult situation. I believe, it is here, in this statement that we begin our road to recovery and continue to build healthier businesses. We have all tolerated, for the most part, what needs to be done during Covid. It is when we are permitted to travel again that we will see the uglier side of people and it will not always be solely from the customer. We will experience it, I have no doubt, from staff working in the hospitality industry. I suggest we have a conversation with our staff and colleagues around this very topic.

I am not at all afraid to travel. I will do what is asked of me and comply. I will hope for the best. I have a friend who is terrified to leave this city. I don’t share her fear. I have a client who is immune-compromised and will not travel next year either. She wants to wait until 2022. I have a small group simply chomping at the bit to get over to Ireland to play golf as soon as possible.

This year has highlighted to me just how intolerant of other people we can be. We may not agree, like or understand someone else’s fear or belief, but we must kindly accept they have them. I recently attended a virtual travel summit and listened as hoteliers in other parts of the world are making this a much more accessible option for guests by eliminating room service fees and better menu options. Some people simply do not want to dine in restaurants.

The demand for private aviation, exclusive villas, private experiences, shared charters are at an all time high over here in the United States at the moment. People are traveling in small groups in what is known as pod travel. Large families or groups of friends are planning their trips together. Properties offering exclusive rental are uniquely poised for this market. But, make no mistake, these travellers are accustomed to the very best. They are discriminating and have a discerning eye. They will want large comfortable beds, powerful water flow in their showers, fresh and plush towels, access to personal chefs and more. They need reliable internet as they will be working away from home and taking their family with them. The Cliff Beach House in Ardmore comes to mind. This property ticks all the boxes for the discerning and discriminating traveller. 

Ireland has a lot to offer. It always has had a lot to offer, but now more than ever, we need to make sure we get people there. Here’s to a healthier and happier 2021 to everyone.



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