Location: Sheffield
Wanted: A family of five – mum, dad, kids aged 10-14 – are looking for a cheap sunshine holiday for summer 2020. They been to Spain before but heard eastern Europe can offer good value, especially in Bulgaria and Croatia, and would consider an all-inclusive.They want 10-14 days in a resort with good weather, sandy beaches, kids’ activities, water sports or water park, nightlife and shopping.They could do Easter holidays if they’re cheaper.
Budget: £7,500

Thomas Cook
37 Fargate
80%

Impression: The shop was clean and tidy, staff were smart and the brochure and window displays were vibrant and engaging.

Service: I was acknowledged within a minute but the agents in the shop were all busy, so it took 10 minutes for one of them to be free. The agent gave me their undivided attention and was genuinely enthusiastic and interested. They knew a lot about Bulgaria and Croatia and searched efficiently on the website. However, they didn’t mention any extras, and I was only given a couple of options in Bulgaria to consider.

Quotes: Both were for all-inclusive Thomas Cook holidays flying from Manchester in August 2020 with Thomas Cook Airlines. The first was for 11 nights in a sea-view family room at Sol Nessebar Mare, in the Bourgas area of Bulgaria, for £6,576. The second quote was for 11 nights at Laguna Park Hotel, Sunny Beach, Bulgaria, for £6,978. I was told these were good value prices for good quality options.

Overall: The agents were very friendly and the one who dealt with the shopper was well informed. But they could have provided more information about another hotel or two to consider and compare.

Sheffield Travel
148 West Street
78%

Impression: The shop and staff were well presented and the brochure and window displays were informative.

Service: I spoke to an agent immediately, and they asked lots of open questions. The agent was knowledgeable about both destinations and offered lots of choices but there was no follow-up afterwards and no extras suggested. They didn’t take my contact details or try to close the sale. However, the agent was enthusiastic and made me feel like a valued customer.

Quotes: The first was two weeks with Jet2holidays, departing July 26, 2020, from East Midlands to Split, Croatia. It included a stay at Amadria Park Hotel Andrija and Waterpark in Sibenik on a half-board basis, including water park entry, for £8,545. The agent said they had been to Croatia and knew this area would appeal to families. The second was two weeks with Balkan Holidays, flying from East Midlands on July 26, 2020, with a stay in an apartment on an all-inclusive basis at Sunset Resort, Pomorie, Bulgaria, for £6,444. The agent felt this would be our best option in Bulgaria. There were two other quotes but these were the ones that offered the best deals.

Overall: The service was very impressive, although the Croatia quote was well above budget.

Kanoo Travel
20 Charles Street
57%

Impression: The shop was being renovated so I could only access the side for currency, and there were no displays. Staff were smart but they were behind glass windows.

Service: I spoke to someone within a minute but there was not much interaction as the agent was keen to do the searches without further conversation. The agent did not take my details, attempt to close the sale nor follow up afterwards. I had to ring to chase for quotations but was sent quite a lot of information.

Quotes: I was given two quotes but not told the tour operator or airline. When asked, they said Jet2. The first was for a 10-night holiday in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria, departing July 27, 2020, from East Midlands and staying all-inclusive at the Hotel Laguna Park & Aqua Club in a maisonette for £5,615. There was a 14-night option, departing July 23, for £7,025. The second quote was at the Amadria Park Hotel Jakov in Sibenik, Croatia. It would be £5,601 on a bed-and-breakfast basis or £6,636 for half-board, including water park tickets.

Overall: The shopper was happy with the quotes, despite the lack of detail, but felt the service was not enthusiastic.


Winning agent

Joanne Smith, sales consultant

“We get a lot of inquiries for Bulgaria, especially from repeat bookers, and Croatia has become more popular in the past couple of years. I haven’t been to either but we have training and can ask colleagues for advice.”


Verdict

The Thomas Cook agent offered an enthusiastic service with two good quotes for Bulgaria. Sheffield Travel also performed very well, including a Croatia quote for comparison, albeit over budget. The shopper felt the Kanoo agent did not seem as keen to offer as much advice and information in the shop, although the quotes that they did send were fine.


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