Where it began
Joseph Barter my great-grandfather started this business in 1865. If he was alive to day, I wonder what he would make of Travel Industry Communications and the Internet.
Joseph sold bicycles, sewing machines, bound books and as a side sold passages on ships thereby becoming what was then know as a Shipping Agent. At that time the sea, as it had been for ever before, was the only mode of world wide transport. Some of these passages would have been from Ireland, but in many cases travellers had to tranship/transit through the UK for onwards travel. Some of these clients would no doubt have been victims of the Famine – but also there were many who travelled for leisure and a few who did the Grand Tour of Europe including Italy, Greece or the Nile.
With the development of the railways he added Railway Agency, and that was followed at the middle of 1880’s by forming an association with the Thomas Cook Company. My grandfather Thomas made a deal with John Mason Cook son of the famous Thomas Cook, on the basis that as Cooks did not have any representation outside of Dublin we would look after the rest of the country as required. We thereby became an Authorised Representative of Thomas Cook & Son and this agreement was made on the basis of a gentleman’s agreement and remained like that for 40 years until somebody in Thomas Cook though we should formalise it!
Being an Authorised Representative of Thomas Cook meant we had to present our premises just like any other Cook offices and this included us having a Cook’s Man. This uniformed gentleman complete with Thomas Cook cap meet and greeted Cook Clients in Ireland from passengers ships, cruise liners or trains and escorted them to their cars or directly to their lodgings - when you think of a package holiday today, what’s changed?
Our business was devastated in both of the two World Wars as naturally nobody travelled. My Dad Clement told me that once WW2 was over travel started up overnight. Of course the aircraft which was in it infancy during WW1 was a very much the new mode of transport after 1949. The rise of the airline business was accompanied by the gradual demise of shipping.
Talking about shipping – as we all know the Titanic’s last port of call was Cobh, then known as Queenstown – I was fascinated to find in some old files a copy of the cabin class passenger list of this unlucky ship, which had been preserved by my Grandfather
If you ever have time to visit the Cobh Heritage Centre, in the Cunard Line/ White Star Line section you will see an original passenger contract (ticket) signed by the Agent – my Grandfather. It actually looks more like the deeds of a house than what we know as a ticket.
The one great thing that airlines did was to make fast air travel accessible to lots more people. With the advent of inclusive tours, package holidays became available to people who would previously never been able to afford to travel abroad. This trend of ever reducing travel cost has opened up markets all over the world and this can be seen right up to today with the advent of the low cost carriers.
And where did Joseph Barter’s company founded so long ago fit into all of this? In one word it adapted. It did this by maintaining the concept of agency and sold it products backed by the knowledge and experience gained over so many years.
The internet is a wonderful tool and allows all access to vast amount of information and data that is available and its there for all and not just a privileged few.
Today we can termed more as a company of Travel Consultants – no longer just taking instructions and being paid by the supplier – today we create holidays of all types. This can range from a wedding on board a cruise liner, to an exotic honeymoon in Mauritius or a cruise in the Galapagos or the Nile. We also organise a lot of group travel - maybe it’s a group of doctors doing some medical research or a company incentive for its dedicated clients or a past pupils annual weekend away or just a group of guys off on a golfing weekend.
We operate four shops including the main one at 92 Patrick Street Cork where we have been tenants for about 100 years. We also have a branch in Douglas Cork. In Bandon Co Cork we joined forced with the Ryan family during 1989 and took and interest in their agency Autoryan Travel – more recently this became a fully owned part of the company and is now newly rebranded as a Falcon Travel shop. Five years ago we invested in Travel Creations in Waterford which was founded over 20 years ago by the very well know travel personality in Waterford Ms Carmel O Regan. This unit we moved earlier this year to its new and happy location at the Waterford Shopping Centre, Lisduggan.
We are lucky to have over 20 great well travelled and dedicated staff. They have a vast amount of knowledge of the complexities of all travel product and available to our many repeat client all over the country.
So this is our newly revamped web site www.travelnet.ie. Travelnet can offer a vast array of hotels worldwide, package holidays, last minute deals, scheduled conventional and low cost flights, worldwide and special long haul flights, car hire transfers, and attractions. We also have insurance available on line along with great last minute special cruise offers great value holiday deals.
We are continuously looking for feedback from our Clients in order to continue to provide exceptional service and value for money and to ensure that Travelnet.ie is the preferred site for the Travel Public, so please let us know your comments and queries.
George R Barter