Location: Oxford Street, London
Wanted: Two empty-nesters want a relaxing but interesting trip to South Africa and have KwaZulu-Natal and Boer and Zulu battlefield sites in mind.
Budget: £6,000

Trailfinders
63 Conduit Street
82%
The shop was well laid out, with colourful maps and displays, and staff were smartly dressed.  I was acknowledged immediately and the agent was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable. I was given many options, and the agent offered to follow up by phone the next day. The first quote was for a tour of KwaZulu-Natal’s highlights with Ilios Travels, flying from Heathrow with British Airways. It was an 11-night holiday departing on February 10, and the price was £4,892. It included Durban, the Drakensberg Mountains and famous battlefield sites. A second quote was the same but with an upgrade on the flights, so maximised the budget at £5,272. The agent spent a great deal of time giving me details about the trip and I was very impressed by the tour.

Virgin Holidays
Concession within Debenhams, Oxford Street
78%
I spoke to someone immediately and was guided through my decision-making process by helpful, open-ended questions. The agent demonstrated their knowledge of the destination and hotels in South Africa. The first quote was for a 15-day Virgin Holidays trip, flying from Heathrow with Emirates, staying at Hotel Portea in Cape Town, for £4,572. The second was also with Virgin Holidays, for a 23-night holiday departing Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic and staying at Hotel Crowne Plaza Johannesburg for £4,585. The second option would allow me to stay longer, as the rates for Johannesburg were lower.

Benz Travel
Princes Street
72%
This agency does not usually deal with walk-in customers, so there were no displays or brochures, but staff were very helpful and enthusiastic. I was asked lots of open questions about my requirements, and the agent was knowledgeable about hotels and holidays in South Africa. Both quotes were for 14-night holidays, departing from Heathrow with British Airways. The first trip would be staying at the Westin Cape Town and Hilton Durban, for £4,551, while the second would be at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town, and Hilton Durban for £5,031.


Winning agent

Tom Ratcliffe, travel consultant

“We get a lot of South Africa enquiries. Usually customers want a week touring the Garden Route and safaris and a week on the beach in the Seychelles or Mauritius. The battlefield sites are really interesting.”


Verdict

All three travel agencies produced good quotes for holidays to South Africa. However, the Trailfinders quote included more sites the shopper had requested, so stood out. Virgin Holidays and Benz Travel did well on hotels and flights, but sightseeing wasn’t included in the quotations. There was plenty of room in the budget to add this on.


Elite resorts caribbean

Top-scoring agent each month will win use of a car for 10 days.

The winning agent must be at least 25, for insurance reasons. Winners under 25 will win a week’s all-inclusive holiday at an Elite Islands Resorts property. The prize is non-transferable and the car must be driven only by the winning agent. The winner must not have any serious driving convictions. Elite Island Resorts will endeavour to supply the car to the agency but reserves the right to request the winning agent to collect and return the car from Essex or a central location.

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