A group of four male friends and family want to visit South Africa to watch England play in the 2010 World Cup. They will stretch to £4,000 per person, and would like to see a bit of South Africa as well as watching England play.

There was a vast difference in knowledge this week, but well done to Pole Travel and Bowman Travel Services for providing excellent advice. The consultant at the Co-operative Travel needs to gen up on her general knowledge.

For more on travel to the 2010 World Cup, see this week’s South Africa feature and stadium guide.

  • Location: Manchester
  • Wanted: A trip to see England’s World Cup matches in South Africa

The Co-operative Travel, Failsworth Shopping Centre, Oldham Road, FailsworthThe Co-operative Travel

Failsworth Shopping Centre, Oldham Road, Failsworth

The shop was attractive and I had to ring a bell to gain entry. The consultant immediately acknowledged me with a smile.

Unfortunately the agent was not aware of the Word Cup, saying she isn’t a football fan. She initially offered brochures and I had to ask for advice.

The price was given on an estimate based on prices for other periods around the World Cup, as there were no prices in the brochure for the period of the tournament.

The quote was £1,890 for a Virgin Holidays two week package staying at the Hollow on the Square, Cape Town.

It is likely the actual price would be a lot higher than the one quoted and I felt she had limited knowledge of the importance of the World Cup and the impact on prices, and therefore the price information given was misleading. This visit was a waste of time.

Failsworth Travel, 778 Oldham Road, FailsworthFailsworth Travel

778 Oldham Road, Failsworth

There was only one member of staff serving when I entered, and they were involved in a booking so it was ten minutes until I was acknowledged with a friendly smile and greeting.

While waiting, I observed the consultant dealing with the customer and thought she was professional, knowledgeable and made every effort to meet his needs, checking on lots of extras and features of the holiday with patience and enthusiasm.

She listened to my request but then told me that the hotel operators had not yet released their rooms for the World Cup so it was not possible to book anything yet and said there was a similar situation with flights.

The consultant said my budget was sufficient, but would contact me when more information was available. She advised a package would be better than booking the holiday elements separately. This was confusing as I had already been given quotes at other agencies.

Bowman Travel Services, 448 Hollinwood Avenue, HollinwoodBowman Travel Services

448 Hollinwood Avenue, Hollinwood

I had to ring a bell to gain entry to the shop but was acknowledged straight away. Two agents helped with my enquiry and they were both were very professional in their approach and worked hard to get me a good deal.

They searched flights and hotels efficiently and decided to tailor make a holiday. The quote came in at £4,100 per person with flights from BMI and staying at the Ritz Cape Town. They also offered internal flights and a second centre in South Africa.

They gave me clear information regarding times, dates and prices as well as a business card. They took my details and offered a follow up call, emphasising that the deals wouldn’t last for long.

The only downside was that they couldn’t book a hotel in Port Elizabeth for a short break for game three, but they did give me the option of flying there and back in a day.

Pole Travel, 467 Oldham Road, FailsworthPole Travel

467 Oldham Road, Failsworth

Although the agent took some time to find a decent deal, she had excellent social skills and used my name on many occasions.

She covered all aspects of the trip and asked lots of questions to clarify the request. She found a package trip and then promised that she could do the trip cheaper, and delivered by about £1,000 under the package price.

The quote came in at £1,582 for flights and £1,000 per week for hotels, flying with South African Airlines and staying at the Ritz Hotel in Cape Town. She was able to discuss journey times within the country and give me options – such as flying to Port Elizabeth for game three.

I was given two brochures, which were Travel 2 and Southern Africa Travel, with a written note of the flight times and prices as well as other information about the trip.

She also offered additional excursions, such as Robben Island or visits to wineries.


  1. If your clients don’t have tickets, FIFA will be setting up fan parks so that visitors can still enjoy the atmosphere.
  2. Use your imagination when booking flights. If direct routes from the UK are sold out, consider routes via Europe or the Middle East.
  3. Match – FIFA’s tour operating arm – has many hotel rooms on hold for the teams, sponsors and official operators until the end of January. If these haven’t been taken by then, other operators will be given access, so accommodation options could improve at the beginning of February. 
  4. When booking itineraries, consider the distances between matches. England’s first game is in Rustenburg and its second game is in Cape Town – it is quicker to fly between Johannesburg and Cape Town than do the 12 hour drive. If your clients are driving, South African Tourism recommends building in excursions to liven up the trip.
  5. For more information on hotels in South Africa, subscribe to Gazetteers.com


For more on this week’s Mystery Shopper go to the Community Editor Blog