A Donegal sports travel firm have been short listed for a prestigious national award.
Champions Travel, a business based in Letterkenny, finished runners up in their category in the S/F/A National Small Business Awards recently.
Kevin Ward, the managing director, started the company 13 years ago in London and he moved to Donegal seven years ago and opened an office in Letterkenny three years ago with and have another office in London.
The company organises tickets for concerts, theatres and sporting events from 47 countries worldwide.
They have booked tickets from many top European football clubs which include Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, AC Milan, FC Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea FC.
The company also offers hotel accommodation in the city where the certain event is taking place. They have nine people in their staff, two in London and seven here in Letterkenny. He is looking to get over a €6 million turnover.
Kevin explains: “I’m from London originally, but my parents are Irish. My wife and I always had the intention to move to Ireland when we started a family. I’ve been in the industry for 13 years so when we moved to Donegal seven years ago, I brought the company over with me.
“In London, we were working through my old company ITB, which is in the same industry we’re working now. But the difference was that we were working business to business so we were providing mainly tour companies and travel agencies throughout the world with out packages.”
They decided to move their company to Donegal when they discovered that there was a gap in the Irish market. He also credits his success when he signed his first contract with Manchester United Football Club. “Signing our contract with Manchester United was really the turning point. That gave us credibility to approach to other clubs. It’s very difficult to get these ticket allocations, so once we got our first allocation that led to Tottenham, Chelsea and so forth.”We’ve also got a very good name. Once we get a client on board, come hell or high water we keep them with us”.
He encourages all businesses to start with “small steps” when they start out. “Take your time, everyone wants to make a quick buck but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be a lasting buck. It takes time and effort but if you’re dedicated you’ll get there”.
They are in negotiation at the moment to become the official allocation to German football clubs such as FC Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund and Kevin says he is looking forward to what 2014 has to offer.