Travel firm scoops top award for 15th time

A Manchester-based travel company which specialises in tailor-made holidays to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA has won a top industry award for the 15th year in a row.

First Class Holidays was named Best Tour Operator to Canada at the British Annual Canadian Travel Awards. The award is given to the operator voted by travel agents to offer the best service and value. It comes as the company, which is backed by PHD Equity Partners, achieved its most profitable month in its 21-year history following a period of growth and development.

First Class Holidays was founded in 1996 by the current management team, Paul Ainsworth and Sharon Mason, and now employs over 40 people at its headquarters in Trafford Park. PHD Equity Partners invested £2.5m in December 2015 and has since been working with management to develop and grow the business.

The company has recently rebranded, launched a new website – www.fcholidays.com – and taken up further office space at its head office in near Old Trafford. It has also made a number of key appointments including Steve Taylor from Trailfinders as Brand and Strategy Manager and Paul Bland from LDC backed Airline Services as Finance Director.

Andy Dodd of PHD Equity Partners said First Class Holidays was well placed to benefit from for the growth in the ‘grey pound’ and the increased demand for destinations such as Canada and New Zealand.

“Baby boomers are more adventurous and affluent than previous generations and account for a growing share of the holiday market,” he said. “They are seeking authentic experiences but also appreciate comfort. With its tailor-made trips and excellent service, First Class Holidays is perfect for their needs.

“Meanwhile with fears over terrorism and political instability, travelers will continue to seek out ‘safe’ destinations such as Canada and New Zealand. No-one knows these markets better than First Class Holidays and, as the award shows, no-one offers better service and value.”

The award was presented at a ceremony at Canada House in London and hosted by Destination Canada. Paul Ainsworth, Managing Director, commented: “To be consistently voted top operator by travel agents demonstrates our dedication to high levels of service and total commitment to the independent travel trade. This award belongs to all the team at First Class Holidays who go the extra mile every day to ensure we give truly outstanding service.”