Two young Irish men have set up a one stop shop website for Irish travelers planning a trip to New York.
South County Dublin men Ronan Fitzsimons, 29 and Alex Kirwan, 29, friends from school, are the brains behind www.visitnewyork.ie.
The website allows Irish people traveling to New York to book tickets for Broadway shows, baseball games, city tours, concerts and shopping trips all at the same time and on the same website.
Fitzsimons taps into his knowledge of New York and its attractions -- he worked in New York in corporate relations in 2005 -- to assist Irish tourists who wish to visit Big Apple and experience the various attractions that the city has to offer.
“What makes us unique,” Fitzsimons tells the Irish Voice “is that we do customized guides for people.”
Fitzsimons explains if a visitor wanted to do a spot of shopping, experience a Broadway show and dine in a nice restaurant, his website is the perfect all in one place to explore options and book everything together.
Fitzsimons, once a sales account manager for Dell and MyHome.ie, set up a company in 2007 to provide Manhattan apartment rentals for Irish visitors to the city called Newyorkapartments.ie.
It was through this business that Fitzsimons’ customers would ask him how they go about booking tours and shows, and a light bulb went off in the Dublin man’s head.
He consulted Kirwan, who worked as a web developer with Vodafone and was once a senior software developer with Siac Construction, about his idea. Together they decided there was an untapped resource at their fingertips.
Kirwan’s expertise with technology and Fitzsimons’ savvy business manner make them the perfect team. They kicked off their business in February.
“Business is great, we haven’t looked back since,” said Fitzsimons gladly.
Fitzsimons said the recession that is hitting Ireland like a ton of bricks is not affecting Irish people traveling to New York.
“We are busy,” he said. “What people are doing though is cutting down their trip to maybe three or four days as opposed to the seven days.”
When asked what are the most popular things Irish people want to see or do when they come to New York, Fitzsimons said it was shopping.
To this end, the savvy entrepreneurs have teamed up with major shopping outlet Woodbury Common and New York department store Bloomingdale’s to offer www.visitnewyork.ie customers special offers.
Although the website doesn’t offer flights, it is certainly a one stop shop for the thrill seeking tourist.
“We can book anything an Irish visitor wants in the city, including some great hotels at fantastic prices including some free nights,” added Fitzsimons.
Fitzsimons said his site is easy to nagivate and everything is available at the click of a button. If a person is not comfortable with booking online or has questions, a call to either Kirwan or Fitzsimons will sort it all out.
When asked why Irish customers should book with www.visitnewyork.ie and not go directly to the specific sites, Fitzsimons said that they are at an advantage because “we are Irish.”
“There is that trust issue. We know what people are looking for when they call us and we can make it happen and when they call us they get a friendly voice on the phone and an accent they recognize,” he said.
Because www.visitnewyork.ie is specifically focused on one single destination, Fitzsimons feels they have an edge over similar global websites.
“We just focus on New York for Irish customers and we know the city and its activities pretty well at this stage,” he said.
Citing New York tourist board figures, Fitzsimons said that last year 343,000 Irish people visited New York, which was up 18% from 2007 he said.
“People are still going to New York because they are just looking for value and they are still getting it in New York with the ever strong exchange rate,” Fitzsimons said.
The serial entrepreneurs don’t want to stop there. Although not divulging anything, Fitzsimons said they have another business site up their sleeves for later this year.