By Pádraig Hoare
The founders of online package holiday company Click&Go said they hope their decision to begin the business seven years ago today in the midst of a recession inspires others to take the plunge into following their business dream.
Paul Hackett and co-founder Bob Haugh said they wanted to reinvent traditional online package holidays by giving the customer back the power to choose what type of holiday they wanted and how they wanted to pay for it and came up with Click&Go.
They also introduced the including introducing their €1 holiday deposit, selling packages such as city breaks, beach holidays, long haul trips and cruises.
Mr Hackett has worked in the travel industry for 30 years and learned the trade in Aer Lingus Holidays, Budget Travel and JWT.
He then set up NST Travel in Ireland in 1996, and Click&Go was his second travel start-up. It now employs over 50 people from 12 different countries from its Dublin head office.
Turnover for 2017 will be around €40 million, a far cry from the early days when he didn’t pay himself a salary for the first number of years, Mr Hackett said.
The company has doubled in size from 2014 to 2016 both in terms of turnover and passenger numbers, has arranged holidays for over 200,000 people since its launch seven years ago, and has moved office twice in the past two years to cope with the expansion.
Click&Go will be opening in Poland later in January 2018, he said.
“We’re looking to replicate our business model in Poland. Why Poland? It has a population 10 times that of Ireland, similar holiday patterns, good propensity to buy online, great route network to all the key holiday destinations and reasonably low levels of competition in the online travel space. Once we crack Poland, we’ll look at other European expansion ahead of looking at the UK market,” he added.
Mr Hackett said hard work, investment in Travelsmart technology and an excellent team meant it was celebrating such success on Click&Go’s seventh birthday today.
“We’re a homegrown Irish success story competing with some of the huge major multi-nationals like Expedia, Travel Republic and Booking.com and we are now growing our share of the online travel business in Ireland,” he said.
He added: "The Travelsmart technology that we invested in gave us amazing insights into website user behaviour and let us target our customers more intelligently. I appreciate how savvy today’s customers are - they understandably want value for money and they want to see what the cost of their well-earned holiday is going to be, almost instantly, without going through swings and roundabouts. Hiring our commercial director Peter Cullen was also key in the development and growth of Click&Go and we now have a great team of people who are passionate about travel, technology and giving the best holiday experience for our customers."