Wanted: A recently-retired couple would like to see the highlights of India. They don’t know much about the country, or issues such as visas, jabs and distances.
3 Long Row
The shop looked big, bright and airy and although staff were quite busy, I was greeted and dealt with immediately. We looked at four brochures and the agent asked for advice about jabs and visas from a colleague who travels to India regularly. The first of two printed quotes was a Mercury Holidays escorted holiday, for eight nights in November, flying from Heathrow with Jet Airways for the Essence of North India Tour, for £3,198. It included internal transport and visits to Delhi and the Taj Mahal. The second was Titan Travel’s nine-night India’s Golden Triangle tour in February 2020, flying from Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic, also for £3,198. The agent was friendly, personable and appeared genuinely enthusiastic.
44 Bridlesmith Gate
The shop had a professional impression with smartly dressed staff who were busy with customers. After 10 minutes waiting I was told they had an appointment system – but one agent agreed to see me for 30 minutes between clients. The agent browsed a brochure as we discussed options and quotes were emailed later. Both were with Kuoni, for six nights, departing Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic. The first was February 2020, for the Taj Tour Highlights of India, for £3,678. The second was a Taj Tour in November 2019, flying with Virgin Atlantic, for £3,878.
6 Bridlesmith Gate
The shop front was small and presentable but not enticing. The agent showed me different India holidays in a brochure and later emailed two quotes. Both were with Wendy Wu Tours for seven nights in November, flying from Heathrow for the Golden Triangle tour – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. The Virgin Atlantic option cost £4,180 and the British Airways one was £4,390. The agent felt my original budget of £3,500 was not enough for the types of India tours that Kanoo could offer so she quoted for a more expensive holiday.
Kerry Heald, travel consultant
“We do sell quite a few tours but not generally to India, although I know Titan are informative. A colleague goes to Goa every November so helped with information about visas.”
Thomas Cook’s agent was enthusiastic, offering quotes within budget, with the best value. Kanoo’s quotes were well over budget. Kuoni offered reasonable options, but it would have been better to have known about the appointment system without having to wait beforehand.
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