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Biggest travel firms finish bottom in Which? package holiday survey

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Some of the UK’s best known travel companies scored poorly on criteria including value for money, organisation and resort reps, while bespoke operator Trailfinders triumphed.

Holidaymakers thinking of booking a package holiday this summer should take a look at Which?’s annual package holiday provider rankings before choosing a tour operator.

More than 8 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.

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.

Thomas Cook announced last week that it was in £750m rescue deal talks with its largest shareholder Fosun. It reported a pre-tax loss of £1.5bn in May after last summer’s heatwave saw less Brits heading abroad for their summer holiday.

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.

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.

Jet2 Holidays, Britain’s second-biggest travel operator, followed close behind with a score of 87 per cent and four-star ratings across all categories.

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.

Naomi Leach of Which? Travel, 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.”