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Great staff, and reasonably priced holidays
Member Name: hcafclaura
Advantages: Good prices, many stores around, many ways to book
Disadvantages: Problems with online booking
Thomas Cook is one of the more well known Travel Agencies. They provide package holidays as well as hotel and flights that can be booked separately. They have holidays for everyone, with the Sunset brand, which is the basic side of Thomas Cook, to the Style and Signature brands, which are the more upmarket (and expensive) holidays. Their holidays can be booked in store, online and over the phone. They even have their own TV channel. I have booked many times in one of the Thomas Cook shops, and also once online. I will talk briefly about my experiences from a few years ago, and in more detail about my more recent encounters.
In 2007, I began looking for my first holiday without parents. I have been abroad before, but the organising had always been left to other people, this time I was on my own. I had no idea where to start, to the point where we even had to ring family to ask where the travel agencies where in the town centre. We actually booked this holiday in Co-op/Travelcare, so I won't go into too much detail about that, but the holiday was with Sunset, part of Thomas Cook.
Whilst there everything went smoothly. The Thomas Cook reps were waiting outside the airport for us to direct us to the correct coach, and the rep in resort was always about should we require any help. She was lovely, gave us honest advice and did not force any of the Thomas Cook trips.
When we returned from this holiday we were eager to book a break for the next Summer. We were pretty naive, and just went for one of the nicest looking hotels in the brochures. When we got home I checked reviews for the hotel and they were awful. We were very lucky that Thomas Cook gave us our full deposit back, and this taught me to always, always check reviews and do lot's of research before booking anything.
Since then we booked a package holiday for Summer 2008, and a hotel for a holiday in January 2010. This has always been in store, though I have become more knowledgably the more holidays I have booked. I know now to always check the internet price first, as these are always cheaper. Most of the time they will match the price in store, and that way if you have any problems you can just pop into the shop and let them deal with it, rather than having to spend time ringing expensive telephone numbers.
Last Summer I booked online for the first time, and it was not problem free. It was actually a holiday for my parents I was booking, as they had asked me to sort it out. When I got through to the payment page, it said the booking had not been made, and to call customer services. The money had though been taken out of my account and I later received booking confirmation. A few phone calls later and we found out the money had been returned to my account, and we did eventually get it all sorted out. It was a little worrying at the time, and annoying to have to make phone calls when the idea behind booking on the internet is that it is straight forward and saves time. I don't think I would book this way again.
So, on to my most recent experience.
These past few weeks I have been hunting for my Summer holidays. Last month we visited our local store to pick up some brochures for inspiration. Whilst we were there we decided to get a rough idea of prices. We did have a short wait to speak to somebody, the store is always busy as it is in the city centre. The lady we talked to was lovely, she was keen to share her experiences as she had been to the country we were looking at booking. She spent a long time with us running through our options and giving us lot's of advice, without been pushy at all. She never tried the old 'if you don't book it now we can't do it at this price', which really irritates me. We did not book there and then, because I wanted to do some more research.
After a few more weeks of research, we were pretty much decided on the destination and hotel we wanted to book. I had found Thomas Cook cheapest on the internet, but did try Thomson in store before we visited Thomas Cook, to see if they could do us a deal. The lady was equally as helpful as the one in Thomas Cook, and she gave us her best price. She did tell us that she could not match the Thomas Cook deal, which was honest of her.
We went to Thomas Cook, after a wait eventually got to see somebody. She looked up the hotel, and was able to book us a deluxe room at the hotel we wanted for the same price as Thomson's where charging for a standard. She was very helpful, and we actually ended up chatting to a few of the staff in there because they had stayed at the hotel. They all offered us some really useful advice, and gave us tips on what to do when there. We were booked up within half an hour.
Overall, I think Thomas Cook are great. They offer holidays for everybody. They are great whilst booking, in the lead-up, and also the reps are always helpful whilst in the resort. The only thing stopping me from giving them 5 stars is the problems I had online, and with Thomas Cook Airlines (won't go into detail about that as I have previously written a review on this specifically). I would recommend checking hotel reviews before booking, as I have found out that do use some pretty rubbish hotels. I have already recommended them to all my family and friends and will definitely use them again in the future. I really don't think they can be beaten on price.
Summary: Don't just book it... Thomas Cook it :)
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