In Focus – Viking Splash Tours
How long have you been in business?
Viking Splash Tours has been in operation since 2000. It was purchased by Rogers Group Investments (RGI) in 2006 from the previous owners, who were the founders of the company.
And how many people would you employ?
At the height of the season, we employ 33 people. During the Winter months – December through January – we are down to two full-time people and one part-time.
So you would scale up and down the volume of tours that you do.
That’s right. Our season starts on the first weekend in February and, throughout the month of February, we would operate only at weekends – bar the last week of February, which is the mid-term break. Once we get into March, we’re up to five or six days a week – then going into April, it’s seven days a week and the number of tours conducted each day increases from there. It peaks in August, which is our busiest month. September and October are 7 day weeks but once into November and early December we are primarily back to weekends. We close down in late December and remain closed through the month of January in order to carry out pre-season maintenance – sprucing the vehicles up by repainting and that sort of thing.
What you do is obviously very distinctive. Do you find that you need to distinguish yourselves from competitors otherwise?
You’re right – we have a unique product, we’re the only company offering an amphibious tour of Dublin. That does give us a slight edge in that we’re not competing directly with an identical operation. The biggest selling point we have is our vehicles and their visibility on the street. Now, obviously we engage in other forms of marketing and promotion particularly with Tour Operators and Accommodation providers. But it’s primarily the vehicle that sells the tour and it’s ability to offer a tour that includes both land and water.
Is maintenance tough to keep control of?
It is one of the negatives – the vehicles are 65 years old, so they do require a certain amount of ongoing TLC. Parts are becoming scarce. We’re fortunate in that our head mechanic is a Filipino, and he goes home to the Philippines for most of November, December and January. While he’s at home for those three months, he sources those parts and arranges to have them shipped over prior to his return. That’s how we keep ourselves going in most spare parts, but not all. There is a UK supplier, but he’s got a monopoly and is quite expensive.
Have you found that recent Government measures aimed at boosting tourism are helping?
I can’t say definitively whether there is a direct link between the positive things that the Government are trying to do and the actual visitor numbers. But there appears to be an increase in visitor numbers this year, particularly from the United States. I think accommodation providers would confirm that pre-bookings for this year were well up on last year. We’re actually VAT exempt, so the reduction on that for certain tourist products doesn’t affect us.
Viking Splash Tours
18 Mill Street