A Day in the Life… Phil Irvine, director of Taste and Tour NI
This month HRNI speaks to Phil Irvine, director of Taste and Tour NI
Phil Irvine, director of Taste and Tour NI
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT ROLE?
I am a founding director of Taste and Tour NI and a food, drink and hospitality marketing consultant.
My business partner Caroline Wilson and I started Taste and Tour NI in April 2016. Caroline had been running Belfast Food Tour since 2014 and we decided to team up and create new and innovative food and drink tours and experiences in celebration of Northern Ireland’s Year of Food & Drink.
My role involves a bit of everything, from being a tour guide and creating bespoke food & drink tours and experiences, to working with hospitality, food and drink companies on their marketing strategies – it’s usually a good mix of everything!
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
I’ve been working in this sector since I joined Beannchor in 2009 working in Little Wing Pizzeria on Ann Street as a waiter. I became group Marketing Manager for The Merchant and Beannchor Group in 2011 and have gone on to work for local drinks distributor Tennent’s NI and Rademon Estate Distillery, creators of Shortcross Gin, since. My current role is definitely more tourism than hospitality focused!
WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST PARTS OF YOUR JOB?
For me one of the best parts of my job is meeting new people who share the same interests and passions that I do and introducing them to my favourite food and drink spots in Northern Ireland. Another element I love is seeing happy clients when a marketing initiative brings the results they desire.
The worst part is waiting for a Trip Advisor review to load after one of your tours – it’s such a personal experience and it’s nerve racking having people rate something that’s so reliant on the personality, or lack thereof in my case!
WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT THE SECTOR?
Sundays. We have such high ambitions for what we could achieve in Belfast on a Sunday but we are limited by the restrictions that are in place. I want Belfast to be a seven day a week city where tourists and locals always have something exciting to try and right now we can’t achieve this.
OUTLINE A TYPICAL DAY
Every day is different, but they all start with some form of sleep deprivation, thanks to my two young children, and coffee. My first duty would be to respond to any enquiries and look at all the social media pages I manage; from there it would depend on whether I was leading a tour on that day or not. If I was, then I would be ensuring that all was in order for my guests; otherwise I would focus on my other responsibilities such as website and social media management, my clients, and looking at creating new tours and experiences.
PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE
For me there were two moments – taking the leap into starting Taste and Tour with Caroline and gaining my first client as a marketing consultant. There’s something quite special and terrifying about that first morning being self employed when you realise you can walk your dog whenever you want, but probably shouldn’t because you don’t have a salary.
BEST THING ABOUT BEING INVOLVED IN THE LOCAL SECTOR
The personalities of Northern Ireland. Every single place we visit, we want to introduce people to not just the products and places of Northern Ireland, but to the people behind them. There is such talent and craic in the hospitality and tourism sector of this country, and it’s fantastic that I now get to introduce locals and tourists to these people.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO UNWIND AWAY FROM WORK?
Cook. I am pretty obsessed with food and am the proud owner of 92 cookbooks and counting. The ultimate way for me to relax is to spend the whole day cooking, getting my boys involved, and then eating the day’s work.
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT NOT MANY PEOPLE KNOW.
I detest tomato ketchup. If it touches anything on my plate I won’t eat it. It’s the stuff of nightmares.
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