Brief: A family of four would like 10 days in a hotel or self-catering apartment plus car hire. The kids are nine and 11 so theme park tickets are a must, but they’d also like suggestions for other activities.
Verdict: Friendly service and attention to detail gave the winning agent an edge.
Winner: Travel Counsellors
This company’s website was easy to navigate, although it seemed to focus more on destination guides than actual holidays. The phone number was clearly displayed and my call was answered straightaway by a very friendly agent who really took the time to listen to what I wanted.
I received quotes within a few hours, offering apartments at the Hilton Grand Vacations Club at SeaWorld or Vista Cay by Millennium for £4,643 and £4,810 respectively, or a double room in Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando for £4,230, all for 10 nights including flights and car hire. She also added prices for Universal and Disney World passes. She was very knowledgeable and gave great recommendations plus useful details such as Esta requirements.
I was really impressed she was still sending information at 8pm, so I felt she was working hard to find me the best deal. I couldn’t have asked for a better service.
Winning agent: Tracey Tweedle, travel counsellor
“I’ve been with Travel Counsellors for four years and I find it really flexible – it’s much nicer to be able to work from home so I prefer it. I like being able to make clients happy by putting together nice holidays for them. I like to treat their holiday as if it were my own and put the same effort into finding them the best deal.”
My call was answered quickly by a friendly agent who seemed happy to help. I received an email the same day with quotes for a two-bedroom villa at Mystic Dunes Resort, Kissimmee, for £3,950, a suite at Country Inn & Suites for £3,800, and a self-catering apartment at Blue Tree Resort, Lake Buena Vista, at £4,000, all for nine nights including Virgin flights plus car hire from £200.
The agent did include information about park tickets bu tI would have like to have discussed these over the phone. It was a good experience and I was pleased with
There were lots of offers on the website and it was reasonably easy to find information about Orlando, so I was off to a good start. The agent I spoke to was helpful, albeit a bit abrupt, and searched for packages as we spoke.
Two quotes were emailed promptly – the Radisson Hotel for £3,160 or Doubletree by Hilton for £3,250 – both room-only with flights and car hire. I was disappointed they were both for just one hotel room as I had mentioned an apartment might suit us better, and there was no offer to follow up with a phone call.
A reasonable experience but nothing exceptional.
Want to know how you could have scored 100%? We look at some options to make Mystery Shopper’s ideal itinerary
Orlando has carved out its niche as a family holiday haven for good reason – it’s got a great choice of accommodation, more attractions than you could shake a stick at, plus shops, restaurants and everything else a family could need. Mystery Shopper was impressed that all the agents offered theme park passes and car hire, but think creatively and you could boost your commission even further.
Where to go
Villas are becoming increasingly popular in Florida, so keep them in mind for clients who have older kids or teenagers and want extra space. GoodLife Florida Villas,Virgin Holidays and Cosmos Holidays’ Villas with Pools selection have options for groups of different sizes.
Theme park addicts will want to be in the main districts of International Drive, Lake Buena Vista or Kissimmee, but consider teaming it with a few days on the Gulf Coast or on the Keys for a different side of the Sunshine State.
What to do
Theme park tickets are obvious, but consider a VIP pass that lets them beat the queues, or add an extra experience such as SeaWorld’s Behind the Scenes Tour (£22 adults, £7 children, dosomethingdifferent.com).
Encourage them to see a bit of Florida too – suggest Thomson Excursions’ two-day trip to the Florida Keys including a chance to swim with dolphins (£181, thomsonexcursions.co.uk), or Attraction World’s Florida Adventure Tour where guests can get close to endangered Florida manatees (£77/£57, attractionworld.com).
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