Durham MBA's business idea in the Emerald Isle
(5 November 2009)
Durham Business School student, Howard Kingston reached the Grand Final of Blueprint 2009 The North East Universities Business Planning Competition, with a tour package idea that can help Irish descendents find their roots.
Twenty-nine year old Howard, originally from County Wicklow in Ireland is currently studying for a MBA at Durham Business School as well as developing his own specialised holiday tour package business, Irish Ancestral Holidays. The company will target people with Irish roots and provide them with a genealogy holiday experience that will track their family tree and take them to their ancestors’ hometowns. Figures show that there are over 70million people in the world with Irish ancestry and 34.5million of these are from America. Mr Kingston was inspired to create his business after speaking to several Irish Americans who were guests at his parents’ guesthouse in Ireland. He said: “After speaking to visitors from the States holidaying in Ireland and keen to trace their ancestors, I realised there was a niche in the market for a holiday company that could actually help trace people’s Irish roots and take them on a personalised tour of the places where their ancestors lived. “My market research asked over 300 Irish Americans if they would be interested in a tour package that could take them to their roots and an encouraging 82% said yes. The Irish Ancestral Holidays website launches at the end of September and will be ready to take online bookings for summer 2010. Customers have the option to find their own accommodation or stay at Mr Kingston’s family guesthouse; Kilpatrick House. Customers will be asked to fill in a booking form and give details of the family history that they are trying to trace, this will then be outsourced to a database of geologists throughout Ireland in which Mr Kingston is partnering with who will provide the guests’ family tree and birth towns. Customers can opt between having their own chauffeur driven car and tour guide to take them to their destinations, hire their own car with an accompanying audio CD or more simply, a train journey accompanied with a detailed map. After their trip, customers will be given a souvenir leather-bound book with their family tree and information on the places their family originate from. Howard said: "Taking part in the Blueprint Competition has been amazing and has helped me to publicise the company to a wider global market." The Blueprint competition brings together graduates, undergraduates, staff and Alumni from all five of the North East Universities: Durham, Newcastle, Sunderland, Teesside and Northumbria to discover the best business ideas from the region's most talented entrepreneurs. Both awards offer significant cash prizes and in-kind business support from the region's business community, as well as regional and national exposure. In its sixth year, Blueprint has three award categories; the main Business Awards, Science & Technology Awards and the Creativity & Design Awards. If you are interested in finding out more about sponsorship opportunities, contact Jill Flowers on: (0191) 334 3210, or (firstname.lastname@example.org).