Over 100 agents gathered in London and Manchester in April to learn about Canada and the USA at our dedicated Selling Travel Connect: North America event.
London agents enjoyed a drinks reception with views overlooking Tower Bridge and The Shard at the Blue Orchid Hotel before speed-networking and a Q&A with suppliers that included airlines, tour operators, tourist boards, luxury rail journeys and destination management organisations.
During the networking part of the evening, Brand USA, the official destination marketing organisation for the United States, updated agents on its USA Discovery Programme as well as its trade website which has over 30 itinerary suggestions ranging from music tours to iconic roadtrips.
The USA is a popular sell for Cynthia Langdon, Homeworker at Cherished Travels, who has seen particular demand for themed itineraries such as music tours an sport. d
She said: “I’m finding a lot of clients are booking the USA based around sporting events, so I was thrilled to learn about Travelpack’s dedicated Grand Prix packages in Las Vegas and Miami.”
Travelpack offer two Grand Prix packages for 2023 which combine races in both Las Vegas and Miami.
Heena Bhudia, Business Development Manager at Travelpack, said: “I know that agents struggle to source these tickets but these packages actually include them in the price. If you’re interested in any type of sport in the U.S. then make sure you give our Facebook group a follow or contact us directly.”
Also hoping to entice visitors with its impressive events line-up is St. Pete Clearwater in Florida which will host the biggest Pride in the state in June.
“Just 30 minutes from Tampa, St Pete and Clearwater is home to the second largest Pride in the U.S. in terms of size,” said Peter Gregory, representative for St. Pete Clearwater at Rooster. “It promises to be the most colourful and welcoming celebration this year and there’s something on every weekend throughout June.”
Meanwhile, Canadian destinations including Nova Scotia and Sun Peaks spoke of the country’s year-round appeal and new accessibility initiatives, include sit-skiing in Sun Peaks and a new accessible viewing platform at Peggy’s Point Lighthouse in Nova Scotia.
“There’s a lot of interest in Canada this year,” said Sylvia Mason from Ultimate Global Meetings. “My clients are looking for luxury so I’ll be telling them about Rocky Mountaineer’s Gold Leaf service and possibly combining this with upgrades on either Delta or BA.”
Airlines in the room were keen to promote new services to North America including Delta’s new flights from London to LA and JFK as well as from Edinburgh to Atlanta. WestJet highlighted a brand new route form Edinburgh to Calgary and Virgin has new flights to Tampa, Austin as well as more services to LA.
The evening was finished with an exciting prize draw with highlights including a $1000 Delta travel voucher, which was won by Keith Lloyd from Your Holiday Booking. He said: “I’ve always wanted to go to Washington D.C. and see the historical sights.”
Suppliers and agents gathered at Manchester Hall, a city centre venue designed as a freemason’s hall by Percy Scott Worthington in 1929. A multi-million pound restoration has transformed the premises into a grand event, weddings and conference hub.
After networking over food and drinks, a speed-networking session was held giving a platform to suppliers to discuss their news and outline why agents should book with them. That was followed by a Q&A session, during which agents could put questions to suppliers.
A prize draw rounded off the evening. Business cards were drawn and the winners were presented prizes including goodie bags, chocolates, travel vouchers and fam trip places.
Travel agent comments
Among the agents who enjoyed the event was Geoff Williamson from Not Just Travel in Bolton. In addition to paperwork packed with information, Williamson’s takeaways from a positive evening included: “Ideas and things that will help me book holidays for the future. There are a couple of operators that I’ve already used before, but I’m still learning more.”
Isla Stanning, from Hays Travel in Lockerbie, travelled nearly three hours to attend the event and planned to drive home afterwards. “I absolutely love North America. I love selling the USA and Canada, so any information – any little snippets of destinational knowledge – I’m absolutely all for,” commented Stanning, who envisages using information gathered about Visit St Pete/Clearwater and WestJet in the near future.
“That was a very interesting presentation from WestJet. I’ve seen the Rocky Mountaineer a couple of times and also Sun Peaks; they’re absolutely brilliant products…it’s expanding knowledge and being the best I can be,” added Stanning about the reasons behind attending.
Heavy traffic on the Mancunian Way did not deter Amanda Davenport of Althams Travel from completing the 10-mile journey from Denton in central Manchester. The visit was rewarded by: “new destination knowledge, new airline knowledge and flight routes that I wasn’t aware of. After Covid, getting things up and running again, this is fantastic.”
“Philadelphia has got so many exciting things happening at the moment. The main thing is Disney 100: The Exhibition, which is on at The Franklin Institute and runs through to the end of August – so fabulous for families,” commented Julie Greenhill, representing Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“And the brand new news is that Philadelphia will be hosting six teams from the Premier League Summer Series on the 22nd and 23rd of July at Lincoln Financial Field. We so look forward to seeing many UK fans coming into the city and enjoying what we have to offer,” added Greenhill.
Manchester prize winners included Allison Heath from TUI, Ann Barber, Isla Stenning, Rebecca Halliday, Ben Pierce of Travel Counsellors, Stacey Owen from Scenic UK and Darren Bailey of Jet Set Holidays.
British Airways starts operating direct flights between London Heathrow and Cincinnati on 5 June. Viara Challier, the Cincy Region UK Account Director, commented: “The Cincy Region is where southern charm meets big city vibe. It’s where a vibrant urban setting gives way to green spaces and waterways, and there is no surprise that the region has been named one of ‘The 23 Best Places to Go in 2023 in the US’ by Condé Nast Traveler. From cutting-edge street art to Northern Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail, Cincy Culture isn’t just one thing, so come and experience it for yourself.”
“We’re talking about Aer Lingus and their transatlantic services from Manchester to North America,” said Ivan Beacom, Business Development Manager UK/Ireland Leisure Sales at Aer Lingus of his role at Selling Travel Connect: North America.
“This year we have daily services from Manchester to New York JFK and we also have daily service from Manchester to Orlando. During the winter season, from November to March next year, we’ll also have our Manchester-Barbados flights three days a week. Plus all the connections that we offer via Dublin if you connect from Manchester or from anywhere in the UK that we fly from. Via Dublin, we have 14 different destinations across the North Atlantic corridor. From Dublin our newest route, which will be starting on the 19th of May this year, will be direct to Cleveland, Ohio,” explained Beacom.
“We just announced additional routes flying out of Heathrow to LA and we’re reminding people we’ve got Heathrow-Boston as well. That service started last spring and is doing really well,” said Jane Beeley, Account Manager – Regional Sales at United Airlines.
“Edinburgh has a new service. We’ve just announced the second service through the summer to New York – so a double-daily out of Edinburgh to New York. And that’s in addition to our Chicago and Washington services out of Edinburgh,” added Beeley.
“We’ve got a new Premium Economy cabin called Premium Plus, that’s on all our wide-body aircraft and is operating out of London’s Heathrow, and our fantastic Polaris cabin as well – so lots to update people on,” she added.
“This year we are focusing on Calgary. Calgary is going to be our global hub. Any bookings that you make this year from the UK will fly into Calgary and onto places like Vancouver, Las Vegas and Hawaii and so on.
During the Q&A session Hazell Mansell, Rocky Mountaineer’s National Sales Manager, mentioned how proud she was to work for what she described as “an iconic luxury rail experience in the US and Canada.”
“We continue to ramp up our services as we approach the summer,” said Kevin Rogers, Area Sales Manager – Northern England and Scotland for Air Canada, also during the Q&A.
“We’ve got Manchester-Toronto resuming in only a couple of weeks. We’ve also got Edinburgh-Toronto resuming…it’s just been converted to nearly a year round service, which we’re really excited about,” added Rogers about the biggest carrier between the UK and Canada.