A family of four with two school-age children are looking for a bargain summer holiday to Portugal.

They would like four-star accommodation on a complex with lots of activities, and all-inclusive if possible. The budget is about £3,000.

How interesting that all agencies suggest the same two properties…

  • Location: Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

  • Wanted: A family holiday to Portugal


Thomson, 6 The Parade, Leamington SpaThomson

6 The Parade

Overall, the experience was disappointing. The agent covered nearly everything that was required, but lacked enthusiasm.

She said she thought the type of holiday I was looking for would be difficult to find in Portugal and advised me to consider other destinations. Knowing there were options from other visits, I asked her to carry on searching Portugal.

One of the options she came up with was a Holiday Village, saying she had been to one in another country and had had a fantastic time. The lowest price she could get for this was £3,402.

She also suggested another hotel called Clube Humbria, which came out closer to budget at £3,119 for 14 nights. The consultant was friendly enough and patient; however, it felt as though she was going through the motions. Her uniform also looked a little tired.


Carrick Travel, 92 Warwick Street, Leamington SpaCarrick Travel

92 Warwick Street

The agent seemed to genuinely want to help and made me feel very comfortable.

The branch itself was immaculate. The only brochure the agent had was Classic Collection, but she didn’t show it to me, saying it would be over my budget.
She said they were waiting for new brochures to arrive.

After a computer search, she came up with a quote that was £1,287 over my budget for a Cosmos holiday, staying at Clube Humbria. Having found cheaper holidays at the other agencies, I didn’t understand why she couldn’t find something in budget.

She said she would keep an eye out for something else and gave the impression these holidays might become available later. She had good customer service and product knowledge, but didn’t get a higher score as she failed to meet my budget.


Midlands Co-op Travel, Royal Priors Shopping Centre, Leamington Spa Midlands Co-op Travel

Royal Priors Shopping Centre

This was a good experience – the agent was very professional at all times.

She greeted me, asking if I was ‘looking for anything in particular’. The consultant listened to my needs and worked efficiently. She came across as trustworthy and genuine and communicated well. She took details of all the children’s ages, required destination, accommodation and budget.

She quoted £3,029 staying at the Aparthotel Paraiso de Albufeira, travelling with Thomas Cook, bringing the price down by taking off the in-flight meal and extra luggage allowance.

Although she didn’t attempt to close the sale, she informed me the price included a free child’s space and it may go quickly. She didn’t attempt to add on products such as insurance, but this was to keep the price down.


Thomas Cook, 81 The Parade, Leamington SpaThomas Cook

81 The Parade

The agent was friendly in a no-nonsense sort of way and took complete control of the consultation, which made me trust her without feeling pushed into a corner.

She listened to my request and straight away knew of a hotel that she thought would be perfect, called the Aparthotel Paraiso de Albufeira.

She involved a colleague, who had been there with her family and highly recommended it. Although she looked at Clube Humbria, she felt Paraiso was the better option.

The quote was £2,970, travelling with Thomas Cook. She took my full details and those of my family; by putting the whole holiday through the system, including my family’s details, it made me feel as though I had already made the decision and all I needed to do was pay the deposit.

This agent ensured the holiday was within budget and at no time made me feel as though I needed to spend more to get exactly what I wanted.


Could you do better? Chat about this week’s Mystery Shopper on the travelhub forums

Tips: Selling Portugal

  1. The Algarve region of Portugal is ideal for families because the coast has several blue flag beaches, including Barril, Manta Rota and Altura. The beaches have lifeguards, showers, places to hire sports equipment and beach bars.

  2. Most of the waterparks in the region open from April to October. These include Aquashow in Quarteira, home to the biggest watercoaster in Europe. Zoomarine combines entertainment with education. Just outside Albufeira, it has a dolphin interaction programme and aquarium.

  3. The travel agents recommended hotels in Albufeira, which is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Algarve. However, it’s worth highlighting that there is a charming traditional town centre, but the nightlife is busy.

  4. There are excellent regional departures from the UK to Faro, which is a flight time of about two hours and 45 minutes.

  5. For more information on hotels in the Algarve visit www.gazetteers.com