Suppliers cross the pond to be at latest North America event

Selling Travel brought together suppliers stretching from the icefields of British Columbia in Canada to the white-sand shores of Florida in the USA for Selling Travel Connect: North America, with events in Chester, Manchester, Glasgow and London.

A host of tourists boards, airlines and tour operators including: Lazy Bear Expeditions, Visit Pittsburgh, Aer Lingus, Air Transat, Brand USA, Expedia TAAP, Space Coast Florida, Greater Miami & Miami Beach, Made Tourism Marketing, Memphis Tourism, United Airlines, VISIT FLORIDA, Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau (YMCTB), Westjet, Sun Peaks and Travelpack travelled across the country to update agents on how to create unique and bespoke itineraries to North America.

North America is in high demand according to North America Travel Service with bucket list road trips and city breaks top of the list.

“We have hundreds of itineraries on our website, so you can build up your package from there,” said Victoria Culling, Business Development Manager at North America Travel Service. “We’ve also got social media graphics and window posters now available on our website, which you can share from there.”

San Francisco’s becoming really popular, said Travelpack, with a twin centre holiday in LA. The operator has also seen a big upturn for campervan or RV hire in the US.

“We have two pricing points: Cruise America and Cruise Canada and also Star RV and Apollo, which are slightly older vehicles. You can save somewhere in the region of £400 to £500 – still fully insured, fully catered, serviced and everything else. So it gives us two price brackets, depending on budgets,” says Darren Martin, Sales and Business Development Manager at Travelpack.

“Our biggest seller at the moment is our price guarantee offers, which can be booked three years in advance. With a deposit of £125 per person, we will guarantee the price will be locked in. It enables people to go to Florida for family holidays and spread the costs across three years.”

To further fuel bookings to America, Brand USA is hosting a spring megafam with six different itineraries for agents to experience. The fams will depart in the autumn and will reward agents for booking America with Aer Lingus and BA.

The destination marketing organisation has also introduced new itinerary USA Wild West with a focus on cowboy culture, country music and bbq, the road trip travels through seven states following the Oregon Trail from Missouri through to coastal Oregon.

“We’re finding the UK market is eager to hit the road and experience iconic Americana,” said Serena Gray, Trade Coordinator at Brand USA.


Airline’s Take off

With more access to North America than ever before, airlines were keen to update agents on new routes.

Westjet is launching a new route from London Gatwick to St. John’s in Newfoundland from May 1. The thrice weekly flight has a flight time of just under six hours. The airline is also adding direct flights between Edinburgh and the Canadian city of Halifax for the first time as well as Toronto.

Meanwhile, Aer Lingus will add a new route from Dublin, Ireland, to Denver, Colorado, starting May 17 and is restarting Minneapolis St Paul on April 29.

“Our UK customers can connect via Dublin from regional airports and benefit from US preclearance in Dublin which saves time in the US as they land as a domestic traveller” said Liza Hammond, Business Development Manager – UK and Ireland Leisure Sales at Aer Lingus.

For clients who want to cover more ground, Air Transat has partnered with Porter Airlines to create a ‘Joint Venture’ whereby passengers travelling from the UK can seamlessly connect at Toronto and Montreal airports to enjoy onward travel to an extensive network across Canada.

And United Airlines is offering up to 24 daily departures from Edinburgh and London Heathrow this year, including a second daily service to Los Angeles.


Canadian Charm

Clients looking to experience Canada’s polar bears and Northern Lights need look no further than Lazy Bear Expeditions, a family-run venture in Churchill Manitoba.

“In Churchill there’s more polar bears than people and around 3,000 beluga whales very close to where we are,” said Frederic Perrin, Manager – Group, Meeting and Incentive Group Travel at Lazy Bear Expeditions.

Perrin was keen to highlight the company’s Ultimate Northern Lights Solar Science Adventure.

“We have three tours in September at the peak of the solar maximum and we’ve got two of the world’s top solar scientists, Dr Mark Miesch and Dr Sarah Gibson at our lodge for each of those three tours, as a resource to our guests.

“Aside from giving presentations each day and space weather reports, they’ll go out with everyone at night when we see and photograph the Northern Lights. You can see the spectacle 300 nights a year in Churchill. They’re intense already but there’ll be even more intense with the solar maximum.”

From bears to biking, Sun Peaks Resort in British Columbia showcased its appeal as a summer hotspot.

“We’re well known as a winter ski resort, but we really want to tell people that we’re welcoming and ready to show people a great holiday experience in the summertime,” said Dave Ashmore representing Sun Peaks Resort.

“We’ve got some fabulous biking, we’ve got a wonderful golf course, we’ve got lots of other activities, including horse riding. It’s slap bang in the middle of British Columbia, which makes it an ideal stopping-off point for anybody that’s on a self-drive tour if people are travelling from the Rockies over to Vancouver.”


Born in the USA

Never short of new attraction openings, Visit Florida was excited to reveal its fourth Universal theme park in 2025 – Universal Epic Universe. Its two hotels – Stella Nova and Terra Luna – are both on sale at the moment.

Plus the Brightline train now connects Miami all the way through to Orlando and in the next couple of years, will extend to Tampa. Another USP for Greater Miami & Miami Beach, explained Seb Sarrasin.

Meanwhile in Florida’s Space Coast, on the east coast of Florida, there’s a thrill of a different kind, said Rukhsana Timmis, representing Florida’s Space Coast. “We’re offering the only beaches in the world that double as a launch pad. We had 72 launches from our region last year. We’re expecting up to 100 this year. So the probability of a visitor seeing a launch has never been as high as it is now.”

Timmis continued: “At the end of the year, it’s the Artemis programme, the latest space programme, and we’re going to have a manned spacecraft, probably in November, orbiting the moon with the aim, next year, to land on the moon again.”

For creative types, The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Pop art fans can learn about the Pittsburgh-born artist through exhibitions, displays, interactive and informative tours. Plus visitors can now fly from UK airports, including London Heathrow, Manchester and Glasgow, and Dublin in Ireland via a short stopover in Reykjavik before heading onwards to Pittsburgh with Icelandair.

Known as the home of Blues, Soul and Rock ‘n’ Roll, Memphis recently launched its new brand, ‘It’s a #Soultrip’, taking people on a road trip around the city. “Travellers can reach Memphis by river, rail, road and runway, so there’s lots of different ways that people can explore the city,” commented Jennie Jordan of Lofthouse Enterprises, representing Memphis.

And for clients looking for that big Broadway experience, UK & US based representation business Made Tourism Marketing offers up to 20% commission when agents book a New York show through them. Not to be missed on both sides of the Atlantic is the critically acclaimed and award-winning BACK TO THE FUTURE The Musical, plus the new Devil Wears Prada show.

After the city highs clients may be looking for some time in nature. Nicola Swabey, representing YOSEMITE MARIPOSA COUNTY TOURISM BUREAU offered suggestions when planning a trip the Yosemite region.

“It’s important to think outside of the national park. While many of the world’s most impressive natural wonders are found within its confines, there’s much more to explore within greater Mariposa County. Only a fraction of lodging is located inside of Yosemite. Most of your guests will stay in the historic gateway towns outside the park.”

“For something truly unique, agents could book a trip in February when the Horsetail waterfall transforms into the Yosemite Firefall.”

When booking Canada or the USA, agent-specific Expedia TAAP has access to unique inventory and planning tools complete with competitive rates and impressive availability on over three million properties.