Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: How to get personal advice before you book a post-lockdown holiday.
Amid the confusion of quarantine rules and travel corridors, help is at hand for anyone nervous about booking a holiday.
If you don’t want to risk being passed from person to person in a call centre if things go wrong, a small band of travel agents offer a mix of expert advice and old-fashioned personal service.
Trailfinders uses technology to recognise your phone number and put you through to the same expert every time you call. One popular choice for the summer is Santorini, Greece
Unsung heroes of the holiday industry include the Travel Counsellors network, who have been offering one-to-one advice throughout the pandemic.
The company website lets you find either a nearby expert or someone who shares your passion, whether it’s for beach breaks, safaris, ski trips or specific countries.
Customers are then given a direct phone number and email address for their chosen expert so the perfect ATOL-protected holiday can be drawn up together.
Counsellors are independent so they can pick from any airline, hotel or holiday provider.
Customers can access the company’s free app, and a 24-hour duty office gives support if anything changes while you are away (travelcounsellors.co.uk).
If you are looking for a traditional package holiday, then staff at Hays Travel can help. While they are not in high-street branches during lockdown, they are divided into small local teams so you can speak to the same people each time. Latest best-buys include the chance to holiday like a rock star with flights and a week at the beachfront Hard Rock Hotel in Tenerife from £599pp – it can be booked with a deposit of just £60 (haystravel.co.uk).
The more adventurous your requirements, the more personal advice you might need, which is where specialists such as Discover The World can come in.
The company recruits well-travelled staff who focus on areas they know best. After an initial chat, customers are looked after by the same specialist throughout their booking. Video calls are on offer as well as phone consultations as you work out the perfect trip (discover-the-world.com).
Dial-a-Flight has been booking holidays all over the world for some 40 years. Latest deals include a luxurious week in the Maldives
Or turn to Trailfinders, which uses technology to recognise your phone number and put you through to the same expert every time you call. There’s an option to use Zoom video-calling for a holiday-planning session and an assurance that your adviser will be in touch if travel rules change after you’ve booked.
Customers can also rely on the company’s much-praised policy of putting payments into a ring-fenced account so refunds can be made fast if holidays have to be cancelled.
Popular choices for summer include Greece, where you can float in an infinity pool at the chic Omma hotel on the island of Santorini – famous as one of the world’s best places to watch sunsets. Book seven nights, including flights and private transfers, from £1,249pp (trailfinders.com).
Experts are also on hand at Dial-a-Flight, which has been booking holidays all over the world for some 40 years.
After getting in touch with the company, each customer is given a private number to a team of no more than six experts who are always there to answer queries.
Customers also receive a courtesy call from their adviser just before their holiday to resolve any last-minute questions.
Latest deals include a luxurious week at the sporty Lux South Ari Atoll resort set on 2½ miles of sandy beaches in the Maldives from £1,355pp, including flights (dialaflight.com).