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19 Sep 2018

BY Gary Noakes

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TRFBLI

Canadian Affair to begin selling through trade

Canadian Affair, the former direct-sell operator owned by Transat, is to begin selling through agents following a distribution review.

Chris Hedley Canadian Affair.jpg

Phone bookings will be taken from next month and an online agents’ portal will launch in November.

 

The portal, which will offer real-time availability on flights and ground-only arrangements, is a key feature of a major trade sales drive, part of a growth strategy instigated by managing director Chris Hedley.

 

Hedley, who has been with the operator for 21 years, took over the top job in September.

 

“We did a full business review, because multi-channel distribution is something I believe in,” he said.

 

“We came to the conclusion that, absolutely, we have got to offer something to the trade. We have some big growth plans for the future and we need the multi-distribution.”

 

Hedley said agents had a particular part to play in organising itineraries.

 

“Canada is not a fly-and-flop holiday, it’s a complex, sometimes expensive holiday, and you need that expertise,” said Hedley.

 

He added the consumer-facing website would never undercut portal pricing and that there would be a “competitive” commission structure.

 

He declined to disclose rates, but said: “We are big believers in performance-related pay. If we earn, you earn.”

 

The trade offering will be led by product and commercial director Lee Rogers and follows consultancy work by former Thomas Cook retail managing director Joanna Wild.

 

Canadian Affair claims to be the market leader to the country, but Hedley said the trade was still “a market out there that we don’t reach”.

 

“In the next five years, our plan is to grow the B2B portion as a significant part of our business.”

 

Sales are split 50/50 between Canada’s east and west coasts, with Air Transat flying non-stop from the UK to Vancouver and its Toronto hub, where it offers connections throughout the country. Air Transat serves Gatwick, Manchester and Glasgow.

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