Canadian Affair is launching a new sister brand called American Affair, offering US holidays that will be “principally” sold through agents.
American Affair, which will open for sales on 29 March, will focus on selling through the trade and particularly those agents who already book through Canadian Affair, which was launched in 1995 and is part of Canadian company Transat.
Chris Hedley, who is managing director of Canadian Affair, will also be managing director of American Affair when it launches later this month.
He told TTG: “We’ve specialised in Canada for more than 25 years and extending our destination portfolio has been in our plans for quite a while.
“We’ve offered Alaska and cross-border trips into the US for a long time, so it’s a natural extension to launch a US operator. The US is a huge market.”
Hedley added that American Affair was originally planned to launch last year, but had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said he was “optimistic” that travel from the UK to North America would pick up in the fourth quarter of 2021 and predicted that 2022 was “going to be a good year”. He added that the ski season to the US and Canada next winter could “prove popular”.
American Affair will offer a wide range of US holidays, including self-drives, coach touring, city breaks, cruising along both east and west coastlines, RV rental, ski and Rocky Mountaineer’s new US train trips. It will use scheduled airlines to provide flights for the holidays.
The operator will also offer a “price match guarantee” against competitors on its tailor-made packages, with deposits starting from £250 per person.
Hedley said the new operator would initially be promoting holidays to agents who have already been selling Canadian Affair trips to their clients.
To incentivise the trade, agents will receive £20 in Love2shop vouchers for every booking made with American Affair during April.
The company is also bringing its four-strong trade team back up to full strength by taking staff off furlough
“Although it’s American Affair, it’s not a new business,” added Hedley. “Everybody who has worked with us are going to talk to the same team. Everything people have come to expect from Canadian Affair they are going to get exactly the same service with American Affair.”
He said the Canadian Affair team had “years of American experience” having sold Alaska and trips combining Canada and the US.
While American Affair will offer an online portal for agents to use, Hedley expected most agents to speak to the call centre team as the majority of bookings would be complex itineraries.
American Affair will also be able to book campsites in the US for clients on RV self-drive holidays, while Hedley expected Rocky Mountaineer’s new trips in the US, which launch later this year, to be popular.