Location: Kettering
Wanted: Two friends in their 30s would like a trip in 2020 to see some of the US national parks, such as Yellowstone and Grand Teton. They want to see wildlife, scenery and take part in some activities, especially horse-riding. They are seeking advice about flights, accommodation, touring options and visas, and also about good times of the year to visit.
Budget: £6,000


The Verdict

The Tui agent came up with a holiday that ticked most of the boxes for the mystery shopper, and impressed with her service, although the trip was a little overbudget. The shopper was less impressed with the experience in Millington Travel as the agent was less enthusiastic. Both agents produced only one quotation and missed opportunities to offer more choice to the shopper.


Winning agent

Eileen Beasley, travel advisor

“The request was a bit unusual but I do like to do the research for a holiday like that. I am a big fan of Titan because of their service and good feedback for escorted tours. We have comprehensive training from Tui, and Titan also sends a rep to offer training.”


US-national-parks

Tui
31 gold street
78%

Impressions: The shop was clean and tidy throughout, with staff dressed in corporate uniform. The brochure and window displays were good.

Service: I was acknowledged immediately and waited a couple of minutes until an agent was free to deal with me, as the shop was fairly busy when I arrived. I outlined my request and the friendly agent researched options on her computer. No extras were mentioned and only one quotation was given to me within my budget. The agency did not have a brochure featuring the holiday, which I would have liked. I did receive a follow-up call three days later, when the branch manager rang me about my enquiry.

Quotes: I was given one quote, which was for an escorted tour of US national parks with Titan Travel, departing from Heathrow with British Airways in May 2020. We would travel from Colorado through the landscapes of Arizona, Utah, Wyoming and South Dakota. The itinerary covered eight national parks, including Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Arches and the Grand Canyon. The 16-night holiday included 14 excursions and visits, such as tours of Denver and Salt Lake City, and trips to see to Crazy Horse Memorial, Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Devils Tower National Monument. The return flight would be from Phoenix to Heathrow. I was told the coaches in the US had Wi-Fi, and there would be a VIP door-to-door service in the UK. The trip would cost £6,198 and met nearly all of my criteria.

Overall: This was a good service. The agent was enthusiastic about the trip and gave me her undivided attention. I would have booked it had it been a genuine enquiry.


US-national-parks2

Millington Travel
1 Gold Street
60%

Impressions: The shop was tidy inside and out, and the agents were smart but not in uniform. Some of the window displays were a bit shabby but the brochure display was fine.

Service: I was acknowledged immediately and spoken to straightaway as the store was quiet. The agent asked me a few questions about my requirements but not many. They rang a tour operator to ask some questions. I was given a couple of choices but only one fitted the budget and brief. The agent mentioned some add-on days, but these were not required, and no quotes for travel insurance or other add-ons were given. There was no offer of a follow‑up and the agent did not try to close the sale.

Quotes: I was given a quote for a 12-day tour departing in May 2020, flying from Heathrow to Denver with British Airways. We would travel with Travelsphere on its Epic Wonders of the National Parks tour, for £5,548. It would visit eight national parks in seven states,with highlights including Mount Rushmore, the Battle of Little Bighorn site, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon National Park and Las Vegas. The agent said this was the only itinerary the agency could offer within budget that covered the national parks. It included a £250 discount, and a door-to-door airport service, which was free for journeys up to 100 miles. The accommodation would be in standard rooms on a twin‑share basis, and the return flight would be from Las Vegas to Heathrow. The deposit would be 10% of the price. Another holiday option was mentioned but it was overbudget.

Overall: The agent was helpful and friendly but not overly enthusiastic, and the seating was very uncomfortable.


Oasis-Logo

The top-scoring agent each week bags a £25 Amazon voucher, courtesy of Oasis Hotels & Resorts.

Oasis Hotels & Resorts offers five all-inclusive beachfront properties and two city-centre properties in Cancun, Mexico. They are:

Hotel Zone, Cancun
Grand Oasis Cancun; The Pyramid; Oasis Palm; Grand Oasis Palm; and brand new Grand Sens Cancun.

Downtown Cancun
Oh! The Urban Oasis; and Smart Cancun by Oasis. Oasis offers family-friendly resorts and adult-only experiences, as well as wedding and honeymoon packages.

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