Mystery ShopperBrief: A family of four are looking for a two-week summer holiday. They want to stay somewhere all-inclusive, with a good swimming pool and plenty of activities to keep the kids busy, but don’t mind where they go as long as the flight is not too long.

Budget: £4,000.

Verdict: The winning agent’s personal recommendation meant Mystery Shopper would be very happy to book with her.

Althams Travel

7 Russell StreetAlthams Travel

Although this shop didn’t look too inviting from outside, the smartly dressed staff greeted me as soon as I went in. The agent was very thorough and found a number of possible packages for my family, including Green Garden Resort and Suites in Playa de las Americas, Tenerife, for £4,060, and the Sunrise Tirana Aqua Park Resort in Sharm el-Sheikh for £3,461, both with Thomas Cook in August.

I was given a lot of information to take away, but I wish the agent had had time to go through it with me. I also wasn’t given the agent’s business card or asked for my contact details, which made it feel a bit of a wasted visit.

The Co-operative Travel

1 Princess StreetCo-operative Travel, Halifax

I was very impressed with this agency as there were plenty of brochures to give me inspiration. A very friendly member of staff welcomed me and came up with some good recommendations within my budget, including the Julian Club Hotel in Marmaris, flying out on July 28 with Thomas Cook, for £3,908.

The assistant was attentive to what I wanted and fairly enthusiastic, and gave me a brochure and quotes to take away. However, she didn’t look at other dates to check I was getting the best deal, and I felt a bit rushed to make a decision at times because she seemed to want to bring our discussion to a close as quickly as possible.

Thomas Cook

11-13 CornmarketThomas Cook, Halifax

This agency was the most modern that I visited, with TV screens advertising offers and a tidy window display, which looked very inviting from outside. The assistant was very friendly and worked incredibly hard to find the best deal, checking how different dates would affect the price and looking at all the kids’ facilities, eventually coming up with the Sunrise Park Resort and Spa Hotel in Side, Turkey, with Thomas Cook.

This consultant was very helpful and thorough, offering to book extras like insurance, although I would have liked to have been offered at least two holiday options so I could go away and decide which suited me better.


3 CornmarketThomson, Halifax

This super-friendly agent really went out of her way to find the right holiday for my family, offering three different packages with First Choice, including Parque Cristobal in Tenerife, which comes with unlimited access to Siam Park, for £4,395.

Although this was a little bit over budget, what really sold it was the agent’s personal experience of the hotel, as she passed on some helpful tips and reassured me that there was plenty for the kids to do. I was also given brochures and printed quotes to take home to discuss with my partner.

The agent really seemed to care about my holiday and was eager to find the best deal. She offered to book extras such as airport car parking or train tickets. She made me feel like a valued customer. I would be very confident booking with this agent.

Winning agent: Zoe Ingham, travel adviserZoe Ingham, Halifax Mystery Shopper winne

“It’s nice when customers seek advice about where to go because I can give my own recommendations. I use, which has lots of background information, and my own experience and colleagues’ opinions to help find the right holiday.”

Tips: Top 5 tips for selling family holidays

Keeping the kids occupied is often the biggest concern for families. Theme parks like Siam Park in Tenerife, Cleo Park in Sharm el-Sheikh and Universal Studios in Orlando are always a hit.

Most family-friendly hotels have a kids’ club, but check what ages they cover as some don’t cater for the under-5s or stop at age 12.

Early-booking discounts for this summer have mostly expired now, but resourceful agents can still find deals such as free child places or extra nights to get clients the most for their money.

Nature and wildlife can be a big draw for young children. Suggest a holiday in the volcanic landscape of Lanzarote, or, for breaks in Cyprus, book an excursion to the popular Protaras Ocean Aquarium.

For more inspiration for fabulous family holidays, go to