Package helliday – biggest travel firms struggle to impress in annual Which? rankings

Some of Britain’s biggest travel companies have finished at the bottom of Which?’s annual package holiday provider rankings – performing poorly on criteria including value for money, organisation and quality of reps in their resorts.

More than eight million people travel with the oldest and most established holiday providers, Thomas Cook, TUI and TUI-owned First Choice every year.

But in a survey of more than 4,000 holidaymakers, the three travel industry giants languished behind their competitors when customers rated package operators on areas such as customer service, accommodation, value for money and whether their holidays lived up to the claims made in glossy brochures and websites.

Despite being a package holiday specialist, Thomas Cook received a disappointing customer score of 69 per cent and mediocre three-star ratings for accommodation, customer service and value for money.

One in four Thomas Cook customers told Which? they had encountered a problem on holiday with the most common issues relating to the reps, travel delays and poor customer service. The company was awarded a dismal two-star rating for its holiday reps, with travellers complaining that they were often unhelpful, or simply non-existent.

One customer said, “We never saw a rep the whole time we were there…all there was, was a number on a noticeboard” while another said the company’s customer services operation on the ground “seemed to be in disarray” as reps failed to show up at the airport or hotel to assist travellers.

While Tui and First Choice performed slightly better than Thomas Cook, receiving three and four-star ratings across the board and a satisfactory customer score of 74 per cent and 75 per cent respectively, both firms still finished behind eight other providers in the rankings.

Some Tui customers complained about poor customer service, unprofessional holiday reps and disappointing accommodation facilities. A number of customers were also far from impressed when they paid extra for a better hotel view that never transpired.

One customer said: “The rep service advertised did not materialise resulting in a lot of difficulties getting the necessary information.”

Trailfinders, a specialist in bespoke trips to exotic destinations, was the best package holiday company overall with an impressive score of 91 per cent and the only provider with five-star ratings for any category – a feat it achieved for both customer service and holiday organisation.

One satisfied Trailfinders customer said “Everything ran smoothly. I was able to personalise my holiday to my taste, and the hotel was stunning.”

Trailfinders also received four-star ratings for value for money, accommodation and consistently meeting customer expectations.

Jet2 Holidays, now Britain’s second-biggest travel operator, followed close behind with a score of 87 per cent and four-star ratings across all categories after impressing holidaymakers with excellent customer service and a policy offering a free 22kg luggage allowance for passengers.

One holidaymaker said “Jet2 is well-managed and consistently excellent on all fronts. Take note Thomas Cook, Tui and others.”

Which? research found the average cost per day for a short-haul holiday with Jet2 Holidays was the same as Tui and Thomas Cook – despite Jet2 offering a considerably better experience.

While the gap between the best and worst package travel providers may not be huge, the survey sends a clear message that the big players must up their game if they are to compete with rivals doing a better job of giving customers what they want.

Which? Travel’s Naomi Leach, said:

“Whether it’s disappointing accommodation, incompetent reps or a holiday that doesn’t live up to the glossy brochure, choosing the wrong package holiday company could leave you wishing you’d stayed at home.

“Our hard-earned holidays are too precious to be ruined by second-rate accommodation or shoddy customer service. If your package is not as described, don’t be afraid to make a complaint.”

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Notes to Editors

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