The Commission for Aviation Regulation estimates that around 20 travel operators folded in past year as the sector has been impacted by the downturn. One firm that has defied the slump is Kinsale-based niche operator Magic Vacations. The company was founded by John Barrett in February 2008 and specialises in long-haul travel and all things to do with Disney such as Disneyland Paris, Disney World Orlando and the Disney cruises.
Barrett became entranced by Disney after spending two summers working in Disneyland Paris during the mid-1990s, while he was studying marketing and French in college. According to Barrett: “I worked there for two years and that gave me a great insight into the place
from the inside out. I’ve returned quite regularly with my wife and kids.”
The Travel Sector
After college, Barrett spent time travelling to Asia, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand and then decided that he should work in the travel sector. “I spent 14 years managing travel agencies before setting up Magic Vacations,” he said. “The goal was to be a primarily internet-based company as I didn’t want to have the overheads of a high street retailer.”
The firm has been self-financed from the start and over the past year the firm’s staff has grown from one to four. “We have broken all targets so far in the toughest year possible in the travel trade. We’ve succeeded because we’re very specialised and operate in a niche market. We can offer levels of customer service that other Disney-focused operators don’t have the time or inclination to offer.”
Barrett is targeting further growth of 50% over the next 12 months andbrecently launched Bigapple.ie, a new niche service offering shopping trips to New York. “Around 90% of our business is Disney related but we see opportunity in other specialised areas. The target market for the New York business is the same as for Disney - females, normally married or who have children, aged between 25 and 45.” Barrett has availed of mentoring help from South Cork Enterprise Board, which he highly recommends to other aspiring entrepreneurs. “The key is to get out of your own circle of friends, out of your comfort zone and into a business environment,” he said.