Jet2holidays and Kuoni finished joint first in Which?’s annual survey of beach and resort package holiday providers, as customer service proved the difference between top performers and those further down the rankings.
The two companies achieved the highest customer score in the consumer champion’s survey of over 8,000 travellers who were asked to rate their beach and resort package holidays over the last three years on criteria including the standard of customer service they received, how well descriptions of the holiday matched the reality, how well their trip was organised and value for money.
Both Jet2holidays and Kuoni achieved an impressive customer score of 84 per cent, and an almost perfect run of five-star ratings. Jet2 slipped to four stars only on accommodation, while Kuoni, the most expensive provider in the survey, lost one star for value for money. Both were awarded Which? Recommended Provider (WRP) status.
Jet2holidays has expanded rapidly to become one of the UK’s largest providers, and has shown that it is still possible to offer excellent customer service as a larger company. The personal touch was appreciated by travellers, with one respondent noting that “you don’t feel like you’re just one of a herd”. Multiple respondents commented that they were repeat customers of the firm owing to their reliability and consistently high levels of service, with one traveller remarking they “always” use them and they’ve “never been let down”.
Similar praise was offered by respondents who travelled with Kuoni, with one traveller commenting that the firm was “prepared to work with us to get exactly the holiday we wanted”, while another said “nothing was too much trouble – they went the extra mile.”
Trailfinders, Inghams and Hays Travel rounded out the top of the table and earned the coveted WRP status. Virgin Holidays tied with Hays on a customer score of 80 per cent, but is not a WRP as it could not offer a guarantee that it would not levy surcharges on bookings already paid for.
At the other end of the table, online travel agency eDreams failed to live up to its moniker, achieving a customer score of just 64 per cent. The firm received a paltry two stars for how well the description of the holidays offered match the reality, and despite being the cheapest provider in the survey, with a price per night of £72pp for short-haul stays, received three stars for value for money.
While there were few companies to perform truly poorly in the survey, with even lowest scoring eDreams receiving four stars in some categories, the factor that separated the top performers in the table from those with lower rankings generally emerged as customer service, with a large number of firms further down the table receiving middling scores of three stars.
Travellers with big name brands like Lastminute.com, Love Holidays, easyJet Holidays and On The Beach were all generally satisfied with their holidays, with none receiving a customer score of less than 70 per cent. However, these companies failed to deliver the exceptional, five-star levels of customer service reported by those at the top of the table.
One traveller with Love Holidays commented that “customer service was non-existent” while more than one complained of difficulties speaking to an adviser on occasions where things did go wrong. Similarly, one unhappy respondent remarked of Lastminute.com that “their customer service is appalling…completely unhelpful”, while an easyJet Holidays customer complained the firm “never answer the phone”.
As one of the largest providers in the UK to offer a combination of online and high street sales, Tui also fell down on customer service. Its performance was in sharp contrast to the likes of Hays Travel, which also has a strong high street presence, and with similarly large competitor Jet2holidays. Tui’s customer score was 74 per cent, 10 points behind Jet2holidays despite serving a similar number of travellers in the survey and having the same average price per night for short haul stays.
One traveller remarked that Tui “cabin crew were rude and ignorant” while another commented on the “long-winded and frustrating” experience of trying to make contact with customer service agents via an app. Others did report more positive experiences however, with one satisfied customer reporting “everything was very slick, good communication and lovely staff”.
Jo Rhodes, Deputy Editor of Which? Travel, said:
“After an incredibly disruptive few years for travellers, our survey found good customer service puts the best companies ahead of the pack. With some respondents complaining that their providers were difficult to get hold of when things went wrong, Jet2holidays and Kuoni distinguished themselves by offering travellers support every step of the way.
“Next year, those booking with Which? Recommended Providers will have peace of mind that the price they are quoted is the price they will pay, as these firms have all committed to not levying surcharges if confronted with rising costs.”
Rights of reply:
A spokesperson for eDreams said: “It is really important to be aware that eDreams does not sell traditional prepackaged holidays. Many of the questions in this survey are therefore not relevant to the products and services our company provides. Because of this, it is not accurate to compare eDreams to other companies that specialise in a more traditional package holiday offering. eDreams provides ‘dynamic packages’, which are bespoke combinations that package flights and hotels only. This product is based exclusively on the components selected by the customer and is not curated nor organised by eDreams. Dynamic packages allow travellers to create and book a customised itinerary resulting in higher flexibility compared to pre-packaged holidays. eDreams’ dynamic packages do not include the components associated with the traditional pre organised package holiday model, like access to holiday reps, and overall organisation of all aspects of holidays.
“We take great care to provide accurate descriptions of the accommodation options available through our platforms. Property descriptions are detailed and clearly displayed upfront when customers research their trips and include maps, details on the services provided, photos and information about the property’s condition. For further transparency, we also display customer reviews and the rating that other customers give to each property after their stays.
“We are incredibly proud of the customer service we provide to our 17m global customers. Since the pandemic, we have successfully supported 5.2 million customers whose flights have been disrupted and on average 6,000 customers a day receive a resolution to travel disruption because of support provided by eDreams. Our investment in our customer service capabilities has enabled a 65% improvement in phone call answering times compared to before the pandemic and customer calls are now answered within 95 seconds on average. Overall, our customer service is rated extremely high with nine out of ten customers saying they are satisfied or very satisfied with the service they have received from us. Also, our continued investment in customer services has led our Net Promoter Score, an industry-standard market research metric, to increase by 33 points in the last 12 months alone.”
Tui statement: As a multi-award winning – and the UK’s largest travel company – this tiny survey isn’t at all reflective of the feedback we receive from our customers who enjoy holidaying with us every year. In 2022 we were voted the Most Trusted Brand in Travel at the News UK Travel Awards, and just last month the British Travel Awards recognised us as the Best Travel Company for summer sun holidays, Best Travel Company for winter sun holidays, Best Travel Company for Lakes and Mountains holidays and Best Travel Company for Ski/ Winter sports holiday, beating our competitors. These awards are voted for by the British public, with more than one million votes cast. We continue to do everything we can for our customers and look forward to delivering our brilliant holidays for them.
A Loveholidays spokesperson said: “Ensuring every customer has the holiday they deserve is our top priority and we will always do our very best to resolve any concerns quickly and fully, either before, during or after their holiday, in the most effective and efficient way possible. Even after the extreme disruption we have seen across the industry this year, we continue to receive overwhelmingly positive feedback scores from our customers, which is why more and more customers are choosing to book with us.”
Lastminute.com statement: Customer satisfaction is our highest priority, and we are always trying to improve our processes to provide the best possible products and assistance to our customers. It is important to acknowledge that this comparative table doesn’t reflect the extreme complexity of the travel ecosystem with very diverse products and services.
While every piece of customer feedback is valuable and we’ll take onboard the findings provided by Which?, we believe the sample of this survey is far from representing the British travellers. 139 respondents is a very small sample of consumers considering the millions of travellers that rely on lastminute.com every year.
The survey ran by Which? covers travels since 2019 without considering the extreme circumstances of Covid-19 pandemic and the complexity of the industry, causing widespread disruption to travellers across the globe. Despite this situation being completely out of our control, we have never stopped striving for success and working closely with our partners to offer a package that matches the needs of the customers.
An easyJet holidays spokesperson said: “Against the backdrop of travel restrictions and challenges faced across the industry, we were really pleased to take over 1.1 million customers away in 2022, which saw us deliver our first fully operational year.
“Our customers are at the heart of all we do, so we’re delighted to have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the tens of thousands of customers we’ve surveyed over the past 12 months. This survey of 426 easyJet holidays customers isn’t at all reflective of the fantastic experiences our customers tell us they’re having day in, day out and why we’re proud to offer brilliant holidays at unbeatable prices.”
Notes to editors
- Which? surveyed 8,361 adults in September 2022 about their experiences between September 2019 and September 2022. Fieldwork was conducted online with the Which? Connect panel and with members of the public.
- Which? survey results for a range of holiday types, including city breaks, escorted tours, family holidays, walking holidays, tailor-made holidays and more can be found on the Which? website: www.which.co.uk/holidaycompanies
- The customer score is based on a combination of overall satisfaction and likelihood to recommend.
- Respondents were asked to give star ratings of between one and five stars across seven categories: Customer service, standard of accommodation, how well description matched the reality, the organisation of the holiday, holiday reps, transportation to and from the destination and value for money.
- The package holiday industry has evolved greatly, with consumers now having the option to choose between both ‘traditional’ pre-packaged holidays, and package trips with ‘dynamic’ package holiday providers, where the consumer has greater flexibility to pick certain elements of their trip. Both types of holiday are included in Which?’s survey as they are both deemed to be packages and mean the provider has certain legal responsibilities under the Package Travel Regulations.
- Short-haul trips are defined as those of less than 5 hours flight time from London.
- Which? Recommended Provider status was awarded to five companies: Jet 2, Kuoni, Trailfinders, Inghams and Hays Travel. All five companies have committed to not levying surcharges, an extra charge of up to 8% which can be legally added by companies after the time of booking to recoup certain price increases, for example those related to increased fuel costs, certain taxes, and even exchange rates relevant to the package. While surcharges are rare, the current economic environment means there’s a higher risk of them being levied in 2023. Which? Recommended Providers also offer the option to rebook or receive a refund if government restrictions mean you cannot travel.
- Virgin Holidays is not a Which? Recommended Provider because it told Which? that it reserves the right to add a surcharge to your holiday after you pay, although notes ‘it is extremely rare that these are ever applied’.
- Full table of results:
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