A holiday that caters for work, rest and play

The flexibility of remote working and a rediscovery of holidaying in Ireland has seen Cork’s Trigon Hotels fully embrace workcations

Trigon Hotels have focused on providing the perfect situation for a happy ‘workcation’. Picture: Pawel Nowak

Cork’s Trigon Hotels have embraced workcations, the travel trend mixing work and play. Offering facilities such as workspaces and DTEN, a Zoom room which has multimedia features such as multifunctional large screens, whiteboards, high-speed connectivity and wifi, the Cork International Hotel assists guests keen to fulfil professional duties while spending meaningful time with family and friends in a relaxed setting.

The workcation evolved from its staycation offerings in 2020 and 2021 when people availed of the opportunity to enjoy the hotel’s hospitality offering as restrictions allowed while exploring Cork city and county.

Carmel Lonergan, director of operations for Trigon Hotels, said that the pandemic sparked demand from intergenerational groups and groups of friends for experience-based getaways. The flexibility brought about by remote working had seen many families make the most of their time by heading off for hotel breaks.

“When we reopened after lockdown, we focused on our leisure guests. We reached out to our customers to see what their feelings were on what they wanted from their breaks so that we could personalise our offering,” Lonergan said.

“In the Cork International Hotel, we created a family concierge service to give our guests the best experiences based on contact with them prior to their arrival. The idea was to sell Cork as a place to go and to take the stress out of getting away for a few days.”

“We promoted our private cinema, our themed afternoon teas and a whole range of activities from adventure parks to foraging trips. That worked really well for us from the get-go. We were giving guests something they didn’t realise they wanted,” she said.

Carmel Lonergan: director of operations for Trigon Hotels: ‘After the second lockdown, businesses began to reopen, and we noticed that some guests were bringing their laptops and extending their breaks’

“After the second lockdown, businesses began to reopen, and we noticed that some guests were bringing their laptops and extending their breaks. Being located in a business park, we could see that only 10 per cent of car parking spaces were filled, with that only back to around 40 per cent right now. Everyone else is still working from home and benefiting from greater flexibility in how they work.”

As a result, the International Hotel put the spotlight on workcations. “People began booking for three or four nights, maybe finishing work at 3pm and plugging back in at 6pm, having spent time with their children. Having successfully serviced the business market, we knew how to service their needs, so we combined our leisure and business expertise to devise packages to suit all ages and interests,” Lonergan said.

“We did a survey which found that 69 per cent of our guests typically combined business trips with an extended leisure stay as a couple or with friends. This is now changing to include families, as they are now benefiting from being more mobile.”

“Our approach of contacting families in advance to establish what they wanted and organising packages with trips to places such as Fota Wildlife Park and Ballyhass Adventure Centre, proved really popular in respect of extending a work trip to bring the family along.”

Working hard to meet the needs of families, couples and singletons, Lonergan and her team are confident of repeat and new business for the rest of the summer. “We have built strong relationships and offer value for money which we believe will bring people back.”

“Many people will take the opportunity to go abroad this year, but they will also go on short breaks. We love looking after our customers; that’s our priority at the end of the day.”

Cork is a supportive environment in which to do business, according to Lonergan. “Pure Cork, part of the Visit Cork organisation, is very helpful. People will return if they get great service across the destination.”

“There is so much going on in Cork with local attractions such as St Finbarr’s Cathedral, the Titanic Museum in Cobh, and Spike Island. There is always something new for people to see or do. Cork is also very strong on culture and foodie experiences with Kinsale just 20km from the Cork International Hotel,” she said.

The Metropole Hotel in the city, also part of the Trigon Group along with Cork Airport Hotel, recently celebrated its 125th anniversary and is a convivial hub during the annual Guinness Jazz Festival. “Recently we had the Cork Midsummer Festival and the Science Festival. Fitzgerald Park is among the many amenities that Cork has to offer.”

“What is really popular right now is hiking and biking and Cork has lots of beautiful trails. Our hotels are centrally located between west Cork, Killarney, Dungarvan and south Tipperary. Enjoying the outdoors is one trend that is not going anywhere and where better to do that than while exploring Cork,” Lonergan said.

The ease of flying out of Cork is attracting more people to avail of Cork International Hotel’s park and fly packages. “They offer great value and those flying out early in the morning can drop off their luggage the night before for a seamless experience,” the director of operations said.

“Our emphasis is on looking after people, making sure that they have a lovely time with a personalised experience. Everybody has different needs and we look after all of them. We have done a lot of work on accessibility and autism awareness. One of our charity partners is the Rainbow Club and we have storyboards on our website so that all requirements can be covered prior to guest arrival.”

Trigon Hotels employees 230 people across its three Cork properties. “While business levels are not back to pre-pandemic levels, our main focus for 2022 is engagement and retention with our teams. By creating a workspace where people can learn and develop, we hope to be better able to service the industry in the future.”