Mystery Shopper: Harrogate, a family holiday in Canada in the school summer holidays

Location: Harrogate
Wanted: A family with two teenage kids would like to go to Canada in the school summer holidays, preferably for about nine or 10 days. They have visited the US before but fancy Canada instead this year. They like the sound of Toronto and Niagara Falls, but are happy to be guided by the agent about other ideas for families. They’d like to see urban life as well as scenic rural landscapes and want advice on the best way to get around.
Budget: £5,500


The shopper was impressed by the service and quotes, saying all three were “lovely and welcoming”. Michael Langford Travel Services won thanks to the overall quality of the experience. Its agent, and Travelgate’s, quoted for eastern Canada as well as Vancouver in the west, with Michael Langford offering travel by train and Travelgate car hire. Kuoni offered car hire and campervan options in the east, so there was plenty of choice.

Winning agent

Claire Taylor, manager

“Canada is growing in popularity and we have done a few bookings in the past few months. Harry and Meghan being there will make it more popular. I have not been to Canada but I’d love to go. We get updates from suppliers such as Rocky Mountaineer and hotels at evening events – and webinars are becoming more popular.”


Michael Langford Travel Services
20 Bower Road

Impression: I could find no fault with the presentation of the shop and displays – and staff were neat.

Service: The agent smiled as I entered and I was dealt with immediately. She asked lots of open questions and appeared knowledgeable, professional and enthusiastic.Rather than keep me waiting in the shop, she said she would take a couple of hours to research and find quotations to email to me. I was given a business card and received the quotes as agreed.

Quotes: Both were 10-day holidays in August, flying from Manchester with Air Transat. The first was with First Class Holidays, staying on a room-only basis in hotels in Toronto, Ottowa and Montreal for a total of £5,703. It included a Niagara Falls tour – with lunch, a Hornblower cruise and wine-tasting for adults – plus rail travel between the cities. The second was with JTA Travel, featuring room-only hotel accommodation in Vancouver and Victoria on Vancouver Island, for £4,961. The flight home would be via Toronto and we would need to get a ferry between Vancouver and Victoria.

Overall: I cannot fault the service – it was a great experience with lovely, warm hospitality. The agent was friendly and delivered everything without a hitch. She felt the most genuine. I would have booked if it had been a real inquiry.

11a Albert Street

Impression: The shop was spotless and warm, with smart staff and clear, easy-to-read displays.

Service: I was welcomed with a beaming smile and dealt with soon afterwards when the agent finished their phone call. The agent was friendly and enthusiastic, saying they would like to be thorough and find me a really good holiday, so they would like to email me over some quotes. I was given a business card and received a follow-up email.

Quotes: Both quotes were for 10-day Jetset holidays, flying from Manchester in August with Air Transat. They included car hire with a Ford Escape or similar. The first was staying in hotels on a room-only or B&B basis, in Toronto, Gravenhurst, Blue Mountain and Niagara, for £5,547. The second featured several hotels on a room-only basis in Vancouver and Victoria, for £5,976. The quotes featured information about attractions close to the hotels, such as shopping centres, theatres, historic sites, museums, parks and locations such as Niagara Falls. The agent said these were good options for the budget and would suit a family holiday.

Overall: Again, I cannot fault the service, friendliness and welcome. The holidays were an excellent match to my requirements and the emailed quotes were detailed and on time.

39 James Street

Impressions: The shop and displays were artistically designed and staff were smartly dressed.

Service: The agent smiled as I entered and was quick to offer me a seat and a drink. They were friendly, enthusiastic and patient, and asked lots of questions. The agent said it would take them a while to research options, so they offered to email details later that day. I was given a business card and received quotes a couple of days later after I had chased by email.

Quotes: Both were 10-day Kuoni holidays, flying from Manchester in August with Air Canada. The first included car hire in a seven-seater Dodge Grand Caravan or similar, and room-only accommodation in Toronto, Niagara Falls, the Blue Mountains and Huntsville, for a total of £6,551, which was more than £1,000 over budget. The second quote featured one night in a Toronto hotel and nine nights in a campervan, for £5,848. The agent was keen on the motorhome option. The quotes offered ideas for excursions such as a Niagara Falls trip and Toronto city tour. They were presented in an impressive report format but I did have to chase for them.

Overall: I had the agent’s full attention and I was made to feel very welcome. The quotes looked impressive but one was well over my budget.


The top-scoring agent each week bags a £25 Amazon voucher, courtesy of Casa de Campo Resorts & Villas.

As a member of Leading Hotels of the World, Casa de Campo Resort & Villas, in the Dominican Republic, is the most unique destination in the Caribbean.

This five-star luxury resort spans more than 7,000 acres, so come and discover a different level of all-inclusive:

• Unlimited horseback riding
• Clay pigeon shooting included
• 13 Har-Tru tennis courts
• Unlimited non-motorised watersports
• Six exclusive dining venues plus two gourmet food trucks
• Extensive heath and fitness club, and a spa
• Dominican Republic’s only private, white-sand beach
• Personal golf buggy to explore the extensive grounds

With all this and much more on offer, Casa de Campo Resort and Villas is the ultimate Caribbean adventure.

Share article

View Comments

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.