History of Sheenco
From little acorns...
How it all began and the first 10 years
The Sheenco Travel story starts way back in August of 2011 in the small village of Goleen in Co. Cork in the South West of Ireland. Here our founder, Genevieve Sheehan, had just been made redundant as the travel company she was working for had gone out of business due to the worldwide economic recession taking place around the world at that time. Calling up her father, Terry Tuit for some words of wisdom, he immediately told her she should start her own travel business, followed up with the suggestion that “Shamrock Holidays” would be a great name for a travel business. Knowing the primary target market was the USA, Genevieve replied “well it would have to be Shamrock Vacations”. Terry, being a man of action, immediately went and bought the domain name shamrockvacations.com
What you should also know is that Genevieve, at that time, was only days away from giving birth to her second child (only 18 months after her first it should also be noted) and so starting a business was not exactly at the forefront of her mind. Six months later in February 2012 that changed and Shamrock Vacations, as it was then known, came to fruition. With the assistance of a good friend, Isabella O’Connor, who served as a company director and CFO until she exited in 2019, Genevieve bootstrapped the company from day one. Some financial assistance and a great deal of mentoring were provided by the Local Enterprise Office in West Cork, while the rest of the start up costs were covered by a couple of credit cards. A loan from the local credit union as well as a small overdraft were both approved, but Genevieve is always proud to inform you that neither were ever actually utilised. The first website (built by the ever helpful and proud Dad, Terry) went live a few weeks later and the first sales followed shortly thereafter.
Remote From The Word Go
The company operated virtually from day one and to this day has never had a physical office, with all team members working remotely from home. This was achieved by clever use of technology and innovation, many years ahead of it’s time. VOIP phone systems allowed the same connectivity as a physical office, including international direct dial and toll free numbers. Automation was brought into many of the every day systems and processes, and a robust email marketing and online lead generation strategy quickly paid dividends.
Time to Expand
Shamrock Vacations quickly developed a reputation for exemplary customer service, winning an international award for their services in 2015. This same year they expanded their product offering to include luxury trips to Scotland, England and Wales as well as their original home country of Ireland. This expansion was led by demand as by this time the company was getting a large number of repeat guests and referrals and they were being asked to plan trips to the other UK destinations.
In 2016 Genevieve realised that the company had outgrown its name. With the new expanded product the company was on a major growth track and Shamrock was limiting, both in it’s singular connection with Ireland, it’s inability to translate well (In Chinese it means 3 leaf grass – not exactly synonymous with luxury) and most importantly the fact that it could not be trademarked due to it’s status as a national emblem. After an extensive rebranding exercise Shamrock Vacations became Sheenco Travel which was then federally trade marked in the US as well as Ireland, Canada and Australia.
Since the rebrand Sheenco Travel has gone from strength to strength, however operating as an inbound tour operator came with its own unique challenges. The luxury travel specialists located in Ireland had to work late shifts to compensate for the time differences with their US based guests and all leads had to be generated online or via expensive and tiring trips to the USA. With the success of the virtual model, Franchising the sales operation in the US seemed like the obvious next step.
Best Laid Plans
With the arrival of the worldwide Pandemic in 2020, the plan to launch the Franchise went on hold. Although, Genevieve is quick to say that the time was in some ways a gift (did I mention she is an eternal optimist?), as it allowed her to focus on readying the company for it's future growth. Two additional corporate entities were formed in 2020 - Sheenco Travel Holdings Ltd in Ireland and Sheenco Travel Franchise Inc in the US, while the Franchise Operations Manual and Training System was also fully developed. Meanwhile, thanks to ongoing and continuous communication from Genevieve to her guests, Sheenco managed to retain 70% of it’s scheduled trips, with loyal guests rescheduling multiple times and keeping the faith that Sheenco Travel would eventually make their Vacation Dreams come true!
Onwards and Upwards
2021 brought further recovery with US guests once more enjoying luxury trips provided by Sheenco Travel. Their Irish based, luxury travel specialists were once more taking bookings, with one team member making record breaking annual sales – quite the achievement while still navigating ongoing restrictions. The icing on the cake was finalizing the FDD and Franchise Agreement on October 15th 2021, followed quickly by Sheenco Travel becoming a registered Franchise in California and New York. With Sheenco Travel celebrating 10 years in business in 2022 and the massive increased demand for luxury travel to Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales it couldn’t be a better time to join this unique and innovative company.