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Every year we create uniquely personal travel experiences for hundreds of thousands of people - generating lots of news stories, testimonials and recommendations along the way. Take a look at what's happening right now in and around Travel Counsellors!

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Customer Story

Viktoriia Fernandes

Francis Knowles 19 February 2018

Viktoriia has been amazing. She is so accommodating and has been so helpful. I would definitely recommend her to anyone. Thanks so much Viktoriia!

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Sarah Paterson

Darren Thorpe 17 February 2018

Our holiday to Sri Lanka was fantastic and went without a hitch. Sarah’s personal experience and knowledge made all the difference, we knew exactly what to expect every step of the way and everything was just as she’d described. We were quite nervous taking small children travelling around Sri Lanka, but Sarah’s attention to detail meant everything was taken care of, and we could relax and enjoy the wonders of Sri Lanka.

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Sarah Paterson

Simone Joyce 17 February 2018

Sarah was a huge help in putting together our fabulous trip to the Maldives. She listened to what we required and the experience we wanted to have. The island resort she recommended was perfect; we really couldn’t fault it. Sarah was able to provide first hand tips, ranging from what to do at the airport on arrival through to the best time and place to enjoy a sunset cocktail??. The personal service Sarah provided enabled us to have the most magical anniversary trip to the Maldives.

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Sarah Paterson

Eve Hall 17 February 2018

We have stayed in some wonderful hotels and have visited some amazing countries thanks to Sarah Paterson. Our holiday to Phuket was perfect, our villa accommodation was tranquil. A private space where our family could relax and totally unwind. When we wanted to experience something a little different, Sarah recommend a restaurant called 'Kindees'. We had a fun night mixing with the locals and enjoyed a relaxed dining experience. Sarah's always spot on with what we need as a family and will always be our go to person when booking a holiday or hotel.

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Sarah Paterson

Helen Dyas 17 February 2018

Sarah organised our girls staycation weekend - She understood the relaxed, weekend-without-the-kids vibe that we were looking for, researched the options and selected the perfect hotel/resort for us. Relaxing by the stunning (child-free) pool, access to the beach and great restaurants. She organised everything for us, from the room selection to booking the perfect restaurant for a fabulous meal together. An unforgettable weekend!!

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Sarah Paterson

Sophie Manning 17 February 2018

When I asked Sarah for help and advice on booking our first family holiday abroad, she went the extra mile. With her own experiences while traveling with her family she could answer any questions I had. We had a lovely time In Greece at a beautiful luxury family hotel Sarah had personally recommended. We will definitely be using Sarah’s service again to take the stress out of booking our family holidays.

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Andrea Bailey

ROSHAN RODRIGUES 12 February 2018

Andrea has been booking my corporate travel for the last few months and takes care of all my flights and hotels. She is always on call and available to make changes or bookings when needed.

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Andrea Bailey

Kavya Subbaiah 08 February 2018

Andrea was most patient and helpful. She gave us multiple options and was constantly engaged with us.

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Colleen Sommerin

Suzanne M 08 February 2018

Just a big thank you for putting together a wonderful trip in India. Everything went smoothly, the guides and drivers were very good. The tours were excellent, more particularly the cycling tour and heritage tour in Delhi. The Oberoi hotels in Agra and Jaipur were absolutely fantastic.

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Ramona F Rusu

Bitte Clausson 05 February 2018

We had an amazing trip thanks and appreciate your input greatly. Thank you so much. I will get back to you next time I go somewhere I need help.

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Petra Weidl

Hamzeh H 05 February 2018

You are the best in this and thanks for helping and doing our honeymoon better :)

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Andrea Bailey

Mini Thomas 04 February 2018

Andrea was very quick in all her reverts. She came up with options even at short notice and even during the peak period in travel her prices too were very competitive.

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Andrea Bailey

Kavita Karadi 04 February 2018

Andrea was very prompt in responding to our holiday query and she is extremely friendly.

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Jowel Rosanes

Mitesh Patel 01 February 2018

Jowel was helpful for my company bookings. He gave us enough options to choose from. Pricing was good and we got good advise and help during the booking process.

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Ramona F Rusu

Maria Craven 01 February 2018

Great, speedy service. Perfect accommodation and flights I hadn’t managed to find on my own. I would definitely recommend Ramona.

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The kind of useful advice that makes us different...

Travel Counsellors on 10 February 2016

Booking a holiday with Travel Counsellors is special and unique for a number of reasons. Travel Counsellors have built up so many years of experience, travelled the globe themselves and have a huge network of helpful people offering genuine tips. This is what allows Travel Counsellors to build a bespoke holiday to suit you specifically and offer all the useful advice we possibly can. If you feel you have a wealth of travel knowledge to share and a passion for helping others enjoy their dream break then Travel Counsellors could be the perfect fit. The special touch we add to each holiday can range from filling out luggage labels, welcome home baskets and useful, genuine advice that will really benefit you.

We know a lot of families travel with multiple generations together which really creates some precious memories. However, keeping everyone happy when they all want to do different things can be difficult. Sometimes the kids don’t seem to tire out, while all their grandparents want is a good rest!

We know a lot of you spend time catering to everyone else’s needs - but don’t forget it’s your holiday too. Plan some ‘me time’ with your partner to get your share of relaxation. Whether you’d prefer to do some cultural exploring, have a spa treatment or get involved in some water sports, get around to doing it. Bringing the whole family doesn’t have to limit what you’d like to do, it’s possible to make it fun for everyone if you let them have their say.

Family holidays are the perfect opportunity to experience new things together - and we want you have the best trips possible! To make your holiday easier to plan, here’s our quick survival guide on how to keep everyone happy on your next travels. 

Kids

Keeping your kids happy on holiday doesn’t have to be stressful. To help them experience the new culture or place you’re visiting, try and keep it interesting for them to make sure they get as much enjoyment out of the trip as possible.

Avoid losing any days that you could use exploring your destination by making sure that every evening you have a rough plan of what you want to do the next day. Not only will this keep any stress at bay but it makes sure you always have an idea of how your kids will be entertained during the day. Get them involved in the planning and let them pick a few of the activities you end up doing to keeps them interested. An important tip with this method is to stay flexible on the day! Don’t be disappointed if your kids aren’t enjoying an activity as much as you thought they would. Talk to them about it and try to find a way you can both enjoy your day out.

Although you don’t want to be doing too little, also make sure you don’t do too much. Put aside a few days to use in a more relaxing way. Go to the park, beach or pool to play with them so you both have plenty of time to re-energise after those busy days.

Plan some surprises throughout your trip to treat your kids. Start a postcard project where from each new place you visit your kids write a postcard to their future selves to read when they get home. Give them a child friendly camera to snap any photos of things they find interesting on your travels to encourage them to properly look at their surroundings. Any long journeys? Help them pass the time with a colouring book or new journal to write their adventures down in.

It’s always worth having a safety plan in place with your kids - just in case. Although we hope you won’t need any of these, be sure to have a small first aid kit in your car and your bag. Check that your children know their phone number and where you are staying; and talk through with them how they should react in an emergency.

It may sound simple enough, but staying on top of your normal home routines such as the time you eat meals and go to sleep can help your kids feel comfortable and happy in their new environment. This is especially important on travelling days as your body clock can be thrown off by the time spent on the move. Keep the family hydrated and with full stomachs to start a happy and healthy holiday.

Elderly Parents

If you’re jetting off with your parents this year, don’t forget that there are some extra considerations you need to take on board to make sure they get the most out of your holiday.

Don’t plan too many hectic days and consider any mobility issues they have. Elderly travellers will want to see just as much as you but it’s important to take your time in doing so. With more time available to wander at a leisurely pace, you are both less likely to be stressed and they won’t be putting any strain on themselves by trying to keep up.

It’s worth planning time where your parents can take a break. If your kids want to spend all their time with their grandparents and don’t realise when they are tiring them out, give them the space they need to relax. Equally if your parents want some time alone to explore the area, let them have it. Just make sure you have a way to stay in touch in case you need to get in contact with each other.

If you require any extras to help with any physical limitations, double check that these are prepared in advance. If your accommodation does not have any elevators and your parents struggle with stairs, call the hotel and ask for a ground floor suite. In the same regard if you require to board the plane early or need special seating for your parents, contact the airline well in advance to make these arrangements early. Small requests can make a huge difference to their overall comfort, meaning that they are more likely to feel happy throughout the trip.

Although an obvious one - check with your parents if they need any prescription refills before heading off. Ask them to inform their doctor that they are going travelling to find out if they need to take any extra medical precautions.

When at your destination you may want to consider taking advantage of any optional tours with your parents. With no planning necessary on your behalf, the company can take care of your family so you can all sit back and enjoy the ride!

For the sake of all of your family, if possible try to book your trip when your destination isn’t likely to be too busy. Avoiding the crowds can have a huge impact on keeping your cool if any issues arise and you’re more likely to feel relaxed. 


 

 

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The Travel Counsellors difference; we genuinely care.

Travel Counsellors on 01 February 2016

As a company whose values are centred around providing the best customer service, on a daily basis, we have some fantastic success stories. We will ensure you get the best possible experience right from the first point of contact because your happiness matters. Our family of Travel Counsellors all share the same DNA, the same passion and the same drive for perfection which is how you know that you can rely on us. Arranging travel can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be. As travel experts we can offer impartial advice from our own experiences and draw upon the wealth of knowledge from Travel Counsellors around the world. Every detail of your dream holiday will be carefully looked after at every stage so all you have to do is relax and enjoy your well-earned holiday. Here are some of our favourite examples showing just how Travel Counsellors set the bar higher and offer an unrivalled level of tailored customer service.

Sometimes it’s not just problem solving and attention to detail that wows our customers, Katrina Smith shows just how much of an impact a thoughtful gesture can have!

“I had two different clients both whom booked surprise holidays as Christmas presents. The first client and his family are very keen Baseball fans. I organised their road trip to Florida (unbeknown to the two children and the clients’ wife). I checked all the different Baseball games at the times of their stay and gave an itinerary to the client for all the games he could take in whilst there. I then printed out the logos for each team they were going to see whilst on holiday and put them into a Christmas stocking, along with a fridge magnet from Kennedy Space Centre, a guide book to Florida, a Rubik cube to keep them entertained during the flight. Last of all, I put the gold envelope containing all the details of their holiday into the stocking. I put it right at the bottom so it would be opened last and the family would get the anticipation and wow factor I hoped for. The father of the family, my client, emailed me to say his family were over the moon and he couldn’t believe the time and trouble I had gone to.

The second family I booked for Santa Lapland for December 2016 (the two children had no idea). I bought some hand warmers for the children, put them in a Christmas box with a letter from Santa saying how one of his elves had told him they would be visiting next year, how much he was looking forward to seeing them and that he had sent them some hand warmers because it’s so cold where he lives. The client said – you should have seen the children’s faces when they opened that box!

The great thing is I also got so much out of going the extra mile for my customers!”

Mel Hartley proves booking with a Travel Counsellor as opposed to the high street just might be the difference between a fantastic holiday or missing the flight!

“I had a group of 26 departing from Manchester on the 11.15 flight to Orlando with Virgin, this was my first booking with the group so I wanted to make a great first impression. I have stayed close with them from beginning to end and as the group is mainly adults with learning difficulties I have made time to visit their community centre in Halifax.

I arranged to meet them at the check in desk to reassure them with the extra requests of wheelchair assistance etc. They were due to arrive at 08.00, they texted me to say they were stuck in traffic, no problem I said just let me know when you are closer. At 09.15 they texted again to say they were at a standstill and they were panicking, how long did they have? I reassured them not to panic because I had already checked them in the day before so all they had to do was drop of their bags!

I was beginning to get a little anxious as I knew there was no way I could allow them to miss this flight. It’s not what you know it is who you know, it’s a good job my husband could get me the duty mangers number for Virgin! Andrea explained that they had until 10.15 as the check in desk will automatically close down and then it would be up to the captain to re -open it. Brilliant I thought, if needs be I would have to speak to the captain as there was no way I was turning them away. 09.50 I parked my car and they rang… Mel, Mel we are here… I said I can see you I will be right there. I ran to get trollies with the staff, and we piled the cases high!

I proceeded to the check-in desk to advise they were here, everyone was getting quite stressed, I just started getting the cases off one at a time and putting them on the scale and shouting their names. We were done, I then had them all taking their jackets off and putting them over their arms before they got to security. It was so emotional to see how excited they all were. They just kept saying thank you thank you, are you coming… I wish I was I shouted as I waved them off! It was eventful but what a feeling, I got in my car and said out loud ‘That is why you book with a Travel Counsellor’. If they had booked that on the high-street they would have missed that flight.”

As a whole and as individual Travel Counsellors, we care and we will do everything in our power to make sure you have the best experience both booking and on holiday. Bespoke itineraries, cruising, beach breaks, adventure holidays- you name it. Whatever you have in mind for your holiday, your local Travel Counsellor will show you how much they care by providing an unrivalled personal service.

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Travel Counsellors are always here… especially in a time of an emergency

Travel Counsellors on 20 January 2016

When emergencies occur we want to know that someone is there for us to rely on and to answer our questions which is why it’s comforting for our Travel Counsellors and for their clients that they are never alone.

From time to time things go wrong in the world, but it is reassuring that all our agents and their clients are covered by our 24/7 duty office. This fantastic department utilizes its global presence in seven countries and crosses time zones to ensure that all our Travel Counsellors clients are looked after anywhere in the world.

To illustrate this our Duty Office sent out this email out on the 12 January 2016 at 11:19am

Incident in Istanbul

Good Morning,

We have been informed that an explosion has reportedly occurred in the Turkish city of Istanbul this morning.

Recent reports indicate that blast has occurred near to Sultanahmet Square, close to the Blue Mosque and emergency services are currently on scene and assessing the situation.

We have run a report to identify clients who may currently be in Istanbul and will be in contact with any TCs who we feel may have bookings affected.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide further updates when appropriate.

Kind regards

The Duty Office

Lynde, Travel Counsellor, knew that she had a client in Istanbul and immediately sent her a message to ask whereabouts she was and to check that she was ok. The client at this point in time had no idea what had just happened and after hearing from Lynde she switched on the news and heard about the blast. The client was blown away that Lynde had taken the time to find out about her whereabouts and by how much she genuinely cared. Lynde was impressed with the email that had gone out by the Duty Office to all 1500 Travel Counsellors Worldwide informing them all of the explosion, but the icing on the cake was a phone call to her cell phone from James Batty, who works in the Travel Counsellors Duty Office team in Manchester. James had called to ask if she was aware of the situation in Istanbul and if she knew where her clients were staying, he was very concerned particularly as the explosion had happened in the main tourist area. Lynde was able to tell James that she had just spoken to her client and that they were fine. The client was absolutely blown away by the service from both Travel Counsellors head office and her personal Travel Counsellor.

As a result the client posted this message on Facebook:

Thank you to Lynde-Lee Opperman and Travel Counsellors for their prompt service. We were supposed to be in Istanbul this morning and always stay by Istanbul square. We cancelled at the last minute for some unknown reason. Lynde contacted me within 10 minutes to see if we were fine. Outstanding service as always. This is why I won't use any other travel company. Travel Counsellors offer a personal concierge travel service to all their clients. Our thoughts and sympathy go to all those friends and families who have been affected by today’s actions.

 

 

 

 

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Why so blue? Beat Blue January- Check out the world’s happiest destinations!

Travel Counsellors on 18 January 2016

January can be blue for some due to a combination of unpleasant things like Christmas being over, debt, and lack of motivation. But we say, why should it be?  The New Year is the perfect chance for us to wipe the slate clean and power into 2016 making the impact that we want to make. We’ve put together a list of the top five happiest places to be, which are sure to get rid of Blue January woes. Make your Blue January all about the blue of these stunning oceans and enjoy some quirky facts.

Jamaica

“Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing is gonna be alright!” this iconic mantra echoes through the community of Jamaica and promotes positivity worldwide. We all can’t help but sing along to this classic from Bob Marley which forms part of the fantastic culture within Jamaica. The cuisine here features spices from around the world but its jerk dishes and street food are truly inspired. Here, there is always a reason to sing and dance which makes it such a positive and happy environment to be in. This really is the island of happy days and vibrant nights where you can make your adventure here whatever you want it to be. Get back to nature, embrace the stunning views of the Blue Mountains and immerse yourself in the friendliness and enthusiasm of the locals.

Costa Rica

One of the happiest countries on Earth, army-free with an abundance of natural beauty from every angle. Everything from pristine beaches, stunning rainforests and striking volcanoes, this landscape invites you to explore it. “Pura Vida” loosely translates as “Life is good” which is a common saying amongst locals here, surrounded by these views, we agree life would be good. According to the most recent Happy Planet Index, Costa Rica is the most satisfying place to live! This index aims to measure things like high life expectancy, lack of armed forces plus a rich variety of national parks and beaches.

Bhutan

A Buddhist kingdom located on the eastern edge of the Himalayas. This dramatic landscape ranges from subtropical plains to steep mountains and stunning valleys. It’s so picturesque it seems impossible to be unhappy in this amazing environment. A prime spot for adventures and nature lovers alike, Bhutan provides rugged terrain and breath-taking sights unlike anywhere in the world. The very best thing about Bhutan? There is not a single traffic light in the entire country.

Melbourne

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s “liveability” study which looks at things like crime levels, quality of medical care, temperature, schools and transport rated Melbourne one of the best cities in the world to live. Encompassing everything that is both stylish and arty, this dynamic city takes pride of place as Australia’s cultural capital. It’s edgy street art, wild architecture and top museums make it one of the most vibrant and positive cities in the world. Sport makes up part of the fabric of Melbourne paired with its chic bars and laneway eateries of course.

Denmark

Seen as one of the world’s most contented countries, Denmark tops the happiness studies. Summer houses on the beach here are the norm so it’s hard not to be happy! Winding cycle paths, beautiful forests and some gourmet treats really put Denmark on the map. Open air festivals and some of northern Europe’s freshest food are a winning combination for anyone. Old fashioned charm embraces forward thinking design whilst maintaining classic gems for visitors, Denmark really is like a fairy tale. If you do pay a visit to this little gem, make sure sure you try out Noma. The third best restaurant in the entire world where Scandinavian flavours and culinary excellence make for a dramatic effect. 

If any of these great destinations have peaked your interest then please do get in touch with your local Travel Counsellor so you can chat about your options. Whether you want a bespoke month trip or a small city break, your Travel Counsellor will be able to arrange every detail for you.

 

 

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TRUSTED TRAVEL with Travel Counsellors

Travel Counsellors on 11 January 2016

When it comes to travel it’s so important to know you are booking with someone you can trust, someone you can always rely on and someone who knows exactly what you need each and every time. In fact, a recent survey* revealed that trust is the single most important factor when booking a holiday. 93% of us plan on going on holiday this year and we look forward to it all year round which is why it is essential that you get the service you deserve.

71% of people said that first-hand knowledge and reviews on destinations and hotels is more influential than online ratings*. Here, we provide a simple solution to eradicate all the potential stresses and dangers of booking a holiday, providing you with your perfect getaway. At Travel Counsellors we make it our business to ensure ‘trust’ is at the centre of everything we do. Here’s how…

YOU’RE PROTECTED… sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what is and isn’t financially protected when booking your trip. We make it easy. When you book with Travel Counsellors you can rest assured your money is 100% safe, no ifs, no buts. We care that you are comfortable and confident in your booking with us which is why we offer the best possible protection for your money.

WE’RE ALWAYS HERE… something happens when you’re away from home and there’s no-one to turn to. It’s comforting to know when you book with Travel Counsellors this would never be the case. We have a 24/7 duty office that utilises our global presence in seven countries and time zones to ensure that you are supported around the clock, whenever you need it.

YOU’LL HEAR IT FIRST HAND… it’s always great to hear first-hand feedback about somewhere you are thinking of travelling to. We have a global family of over 1,500 travel experts who can provide just that. And what’s more we have our own in-house review system with thousands of personal insights and reviews directly from our agents and their customers, so you know its advice you can trust.

IT’S PERSONAL… our Travel Counsellors take the time to get to know their customers because they genuinely care. They are passionate about delivering a service that goes above and beyond, exceeding expectations and making sure their customers know they are booking with someone they can trust. That’s why a world leading 96% of our customers would recommend their Travel Counsellor to family and friends.

WHAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU… it pays to be independent. Whilst many travel companies sell the product that’s right for them, we make a promise to only sell what is right for you. We have access to thousands of suppliers and products globally, and have developed our own cutting-edge booking system that enables our Travel Counsellors to tailor-make the perfect trip for each customer at the most competitive prices.

To find out more about booking your dream break by getting in touch with your local Travel Counsellor please use the search bar in the top right of the page. We guarantee that this level of personalised service cannot be found anywhere else simply because our Travel Counsellors and their approach is completely unique to you. 

*Travel Counsellors survey completed by 335 consumers in January 2016

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Best City Breaks of 2016

Travel Counsellors on 07 January 2016

Christmas is over, January is bearing down upon us, let’s face it- this time of year can be a little depressing. The perfect way to beat those January blues is to start thinking about what you have to look forward to in 2016. Why not book a cheeky city break somewhere and experience some new sights and culture, a cost effective way to get your new year off to a fantastic start. City and beach breaks are the most popular types of holiday that we just can’t get enough of this year so if you’re struggling to decide where you’d like to visit, this blog is sure to help.

We have put together a list of some fantastic cities you might want to try out for your city break, whether you are a group of friends, couple or family there will be the perfect spot for a bit of relaxation and exploration. According to the ABTA report, almost a quarter of people say they will try out a new city they have never visited before in 2016, here are just some gems to consider.

Amsterdam

The Dutch capital is a fantastic place to explore a wealth of history, picturesque canals and parks plus some lively, contemporary bars. This fantastic hotspot is home to some of the world’s best museums and art galleries. Immerse yourself in the stunning pieces from the Van Gough Museum or take in the stories from the Ann Frank House. However you choose to spend your Amsterdam break, you will not be short of places to explore and sights to see. This really is a fantastic location for a city break, especially for the younger generation of travellers.

Athens

If you love Greek philosophy, architecture and culture then Athens is the place for you. 3,400 years of Greek life lives on in this amazing city where you can explore on tour buses or cycle with locals to make the most of the amazing ancient structures.  Not only is this place rich in culture and history it also has an electric nightlife catering to all music tastes from rock to pop.

Budapest

The capital of Hungary has the perfect mix of influences from the East and West making it an elegant and truly stunning city break destination. With a thriving nightlife and a booming business scenes a short city break here is sure to impress.

Madrid

The pinnacle of Spanish culture this diverse and varied region hosts a wealth of amazing food, music and history. Carolyne Larkin, Head Office recently visited Madrid and said “the museums and history of this place are astounding, it’s definitely worth taking bus tour so you get chance to appreciate the scenery. It’s easy to do a lot of walking without really noticing so I’d recommend taking a comfy pair of shoes!”

London

A bustling city with almost eight million inhabitants, this fantastic city has tonnes of amazing attractions as well as secret pockets to explore. It can seem like an overwhelming place but if you break it down you will find some spectacular sights and opportunities. An influx of people from around the globe means that there are cultural delights from everywhere imaginable, something to suit everyone!

Rome

This modern metropolis has so much to offer in terms of restaurants, nightlife and entertainment but the main reason people swarm to Rome is for the history. The stunning ancient ruins and history behind this city is something which has kept it alive for thousands of years. The Vatican Museum, Colosseum, Altare della Patria are all bursting with history and breath-taking views. This one really is a winner for a city break with a blend of nightlife and culture unlike anywhere else in the world.

Here are just a few cities to consider for a short break this year if you want to expand your horizons and explore some new cultures. If any of these destinations jump out at you then please get in touch with your local Travel Counsellor who will take care of everything for you. You could have your next trip to look forward to sooner than you think!

 

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Travel Counsellors and the support of our 24/7 global Duty Office

Travel Counsellors on 25 November 2015

The Duty Office service, run centrally by a team from the company’s UK headquarters, utilises the company’s global presence in six other countries and time zones to ensure that the international community of 1,500 Travel Counsellors are supported around the clock, whenever they need it.

Operations Manager, Sandie Fisher said; “As the leaders in customer service, we have always put people at the heart of everything we do, and we want to be there to support and assist you and your customers whenever you need us, no ifs, no buts. This service enables us to draw on our global presence to ensure this is possible, as well as recruiting a team of experienced Duty Office advisors to support you. The feedback so far has been really positive.”

Lisa Hillyard, Gold Travel Counsellor, commented on her recent experience: “Having a 24/7 Duty Office means that while I’m in bed, one of my colleagues is sitting at a desk analysing information that is coming in from around the world, enabling us to be proactive rather than reactive if a situation arises.  I woke up at 7am one morning and saw a Duty Office email about high winds at Heathrow.  One of my customers was due to fly out to Mexico that day so I contacted him about the situation – he left earlier as a result and caught his flight without delay.  The Duty Office makes a huge difference to me and my customers”.

One of our Travel Counsellors Rachael Quinton had clients flying to Sharm el-Sheikh earlier this month. These clients always book with her rather than doing it themselves as they have faith in their Travel Counsellor. Rachael worked hard to resolve the issue causing minimal stress for her customer; “I had emailed her at 1am to tell her she wouldn’t be going as we had just heard from the Foreign office and I would be onto it in the morning. We had flights, accommodation, transfers and airport hotels all booked and sorted. By 11am she was rebooked to Fuerteventura, refunded the difference in price and accommodation cancellation charges all covered by us. I was so proud of the outcome and she didn’t even have to pick up the phone or feel any stress what-so-ever. That’s what we are good at!” Rachael also had a young client who was afraid to travel alone but had to go to Nice. A fellow Travel Counsellor stepped in and offered to fly back with her and escort her through. This is the extent that Travel Counsellors will go to ensure customers get the very best service and experience every time.  

Trevor Smith, Travel Counsellor, came to the rescue for his clients when they required six rooms for a group booking and the supplier had only requested two to the hotel. Within 90 minutes the clients were relocated to a better hotel, with bigger rooms in a better location! All achieved whilst the customers enjoyed four rounds of drinks on a stag party!

Travel Counsellor, Claire Branson, said “As soon as I saw the news, I called one of my clients who is travelling soon to reassure them I am here to help, to save them worrying about everything. As I can work all hours and do not close like the high street travel agents, I am here to help my clients at any time and they can get in touch with me straight away."

Maxine Staniland booked a young couple on their holiday to Bangkok. They were later stranded there during some political unrest back in 2009. Flights were being cancelled including their return journey home. Maxine stated “They had no money left and their parents were worried and contacted me. I spoke to head office and we escalated the problem to Steve Byrne who made the decision to pay for them to stay in Bangkok until we could get them home. It worked out to be approximately 10 extra nights and we then also paid to get them back with another airline so we could get them home faster. We could have moved them to cheaper accommodation as they were staying in a 4 star hotel but we thought they would feel safer staying where they were. No thoughts of money ever came into it – it was all about the customer and keeping them safe and happy.”

These fantastic examples show the diversity and responsiveness of the Travel Counsellor family. As soon as information reaches head office or a Travel Counsellor we translate that into action to ensure minimal disruption to our customers at all times. There is always someone there at the end of the phone to take your call, answer your questions and assure you that problems are being resolved as quickly as possible. As we are a global network we can share information, options and resolve issues faster and more efficiently. Booking with us doesn’t just provide you with financial protection, it’s so much more than that. You will have your own go-to person to help you deal with any crisis and problems you encounter to keep you safe and happy.

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Europe’s 10 most popular theme parks

Travel Counsellors on 05 November 2015

DISNEYLAND PARIS, France

Pulling in nearly 10 million visitors a year, Disneyland Paris is by far and away the most popular theme park in Europe. Disneyland Paris is the only park on this list which breaks into the worldwide top 10, sitting in 9th position globally. Incidentally, 9 of the top 10 amusement parks in the world are Disney related, with just Japan’s Universal Studios breaking that trend.

The iconic park first opened in 1992 and has since become one of Europe’s most visited attractions ever since. The park is divided into five themed lands – and is a fantastic holiday spot for all ages, especially kids. 

EUROPA PARK, Germany

The largest theme park in Germany, and second most popular park in Europe, Europa Park is a rapidly growing attraction. Approaching its 40th anniversary the park has a host of thrilling rollercoasters, and events to keep you entertained.

Europe Park also has themed areas where you can experience a range of European countries from Italy to Russia to Portugal. The ‘England’ area for example has a replica Silverstone go-kart track, a Crazy Taxi ride and a British Carousel. 

TIVOLI GARDENS, Denmark

Tivoli Gardens is the second-oldest amusement park in the world, first opening in 1843. The park has a combination of roller-coasters, rides, theatre, concerts and arcades. Located in Copenhagen, there’s something to please all ages at this historic park, with nostalgic rides and theatrical performances.

Tivoli Gardens’ ranking as the third most popular park in Europe is all the more impressive when you consider it is a seasonal park. The park opens its doors for an extended summer (April to September), Halloween (mid-October to November) and Christmas (mid-November to January).  Check the website for opening times before you visit.

DE EFTELING, Netherlands

Efteling in the Netherlands is a fantasy-themed amusement park, and one of the oldest parks in the world having first opened in 1952. Since it first opened over 100 million guests have walked through the gates, and is a must-see if you are visiting the country.

The park is notorious for its impressive and fascinating designs and architecture. There are four realms in the park – Travel, Fairy, Rough and Other. In 1992 it won the accolade of best theme park in the world from the IAAPA.  

WALT DISNEY STUDIOS PARK, France

Walt Disney Studios Park is the second of two Disney theme parks in the French capital. Although it has the lowest attendance figures of all eleven Walt Disney Parks, it is still a brilliant attraction.

This park gives you a behind-the-scenes insight into Disney film and television. There aren’t as many big rides as Disneyland Paris – but there’s still a lot to offer including the Crush Coaster, the Art of Disney Animation and Animagique: a live show featuring Disney classics.

PORT AVENTURA, Spain

Just south of Barcelona, Port Aventura is a great destination for both thrill seekers and families. A brand new theme park will be joining the resort in 2016, called Ferrari Land. Unsurprisingly this will be Ferrari themed, and the second of its kind in the world.

Port Aventura boasts numerous high-speed rollercoasters, a neighbouring water park, as well as shows and events for all the family.

LISEBERG, Sweden

Liseberg, in Gothenburg first opened its doors in 1923 – and has since go on to become one of the most notable theme parks in Europe. Forbes (in 2005) put Liseberg in the top 10 amusement parks in the world, and its wooden rollercoaster – Balder – has twice won the accolade of ‘best wooden track rollercoaster’ in an international poll.

With over 30 rides, numerous restaurants, a famous botanical garden and dance hall - there’s plenty to do in Liseberg.

GARDALAND, Italy

Found in north-eastern Italy, Gardaland comes in as the eighth most popular theme park in Europe. Owned by British company – Merlin Entertainments – the park has a lot to offer holiday goers. 

There are rides for kids, as well as the extreme thrill seekers – plus a monorail, aquarium, and theatre too.

ALTON TOWERS, U.K

The most popular UK attraction is Alton Towers. Alton Towers first opened in 1860, but it didn’t operate as a theme park until 1980. This theme park is geared towards thrill-seekers with over 50 rides, but that’s not to say they don’t cater for kids and families too.

Iconic rides like Air, Nemesis and Oblivion should be on any roller coaster fans to-do list.

LEGOLAND WINDSOR, U.K.

Legoland Windsor in the UK pulls in over 2 million visitors a year, making it the tenth most popular theme park in Europe. The park is themed around the Lego toy, and is a fantastic attraction for kids. There are 12 different Lego themed areas of the park which will fascinate any fan of Lego. 

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Travel Counsellors named in Sunday Times International Track 200

Travel Counsellors on 16 July 2015

Travel Counsellors is celebrating after being named in The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 at the weekend. The independent travel company has been placed 174th in the list which ranks Britain’s mid-market private companies with the fastest-growing international sales. This is the third time the company has received this accolade, after also appearing on the list in 2011 and 2012.

The company, which now has over 850 Travel Counsellors running their own businesses from home across the UK and a further 550 in its overseas operations in Ireland, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia, the UAE and its most recent expansion into Belgium, has experienced a growth of 180% since it first overseas launch in 2005. The company’s global sales for the financial year end (31 October 2014) were £416m, of which 30% is now generated outside of the UK.

Managing Director Steve Byrne comments; “We are thrilled to have been recognised in the list for a third time as it reflects our continued successful growth internationally alongside the commitment of all of our people. We believe and have proved that there is a need for sincere and trusted advisers that place customer care at the centre of their businesses, which is why our model has really been embraced by the international markets we have expanded into. Our travel counsellors and staff deserve the recognition and accolades for being fantastic at what they do.”

The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 league table ranks companies' international sales growth over the latest two years of available accounts, with minimum sales of £25m. This accolade follows Travel Counsellors being awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2014, the UK’s highest accolade for business success, in recognition of the company’s continued growth and overseas expansion.

Byrne adds; “Our continued growth overseas shows we have a proven business model, providing our travel counsellors with the very best support, tools and technology to deliver the highest level of service to their customers. Our international presence also benefits our agents and their customers by building on our global buying power, local knowledge and enabling true 24/7 support. As a result we have almost 70% repeat business and a world-beating 96% customer satisfaction score*, meaning we can offer a secure, safe and extremely promising future to those looking to build a business with the company.”

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Dubai Conference 2014

19 June 2014

The Travel Counsellors Dubai Conference 2014, titled 'The Difference Is You', rewarded top performers across the business.

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Queen's Award celebrates 20 years of trusted travel

David Speakman on 23 April 2014

I am honoured to announce the fantastic news that we have won the 2014 Queen’s Award for Enterprise. We are so proud to have won this award for International Trade, which is the UK's most prestigious business award. This is Travel Counsellors second such win, as we were, and still are, the only travel agency ever to have received the award for innovation in 2003.


What a great way to celebrate our landmark 20th anniversary as a company. And it really makes me think about how far we have come. It all started with a book. One by American trend guru Faith Popcorn, called "The Popcorn Report" which predicted a rise in the number of people shopping from home and working from home. I read this in 1993, having already been in the travel industry for 15 years operating a chain of retail travel agents in North West England. It gave me an idea about a new kind of travel agency, one in which personal relationships flourish, where service is at the forefront, where dreams are fulfilled, where customers return time and time again, and one where experienced travel professionals could take control of their own destiny by doing what they most enjoy.


Travel Counsellors would allow the very best travel consultants to create a personal connection with customers whilst being supported by a central head office team, that would provide commercial clout, bespoke IT, compliance with Regulation and create a training and development programme that would adapt to changing customer needs. Individual Travel Counsellors could focus on selling and validating customer choice and delivering customer care and personal service to their customers.


And it worked. We took on our first agent in January 1994 – our first booking was a family of four to Mallorca. Fast forward a year and we had 20 agents running their own businesses and had achieved £1 million in sales. Customers were embracing the unique and highly personal way of booking travel – their own experienced travel professional available to them around the clock and enabling them to book holidays from the comfort of their own home. Equally, travel professionals welcomed the opportunity to shun the paperwork and smaller rewards when working in a traditional high street agency and instead run their own business, focusing on what they love and do best – selling travel, whilst also enjoying the benefits that this brought for their work/life balance.


Twenty years later we now have 1,300 Travel Counsellor franchisees supported by more than 250 staff in eight countries. We have more than 450,000 passengers annually and we have sales in excess of £400 million. It's clichéd to say it’s been hard work, creating anything worth fighting for doesn't come easy, but it's been so enjoyable and fulfilling. As the late Stephen Covey, the business philosopher, said; “live, love, work and leave a legacy”, and not only has the company hopefully achieved these goals, but many hundreds of individual Travel Counsellors have too. We have changed lives, and that more than any monetary reward is certainly something to be proud of.


So what makes us so different? Quite simply, our people. Our strength is in our customer care and the relationships we have and continue to build with our customers. In this electronically connected world with an abundance of choice, personal relationships and trust are not an anathema to this trend but an essential part in ensuring customers feel safe, reassured and cared for. We have championed a trusting relationship with the customer by being the leaders in financial protection, guaranteeing that the customer with never lose their money. Our ethos is based on treating customers as we ourselves would expect to be treated.


But it doesn't end there. We believe this trust is essential to the DNA of the company and has to permeate all our relationships, be it individual Travel Counsellors, our great staff and our customers, all of whom are our best advocates.


We have based our business on the foundations of integrity, care, trust and professionalism and a passionate desire to create a community of the very best in travel, and this fantastic recognition from the Queen’s Award is testament to this.


I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Travel Counsellors and staff for their hard work and dedication, and of course our customers for their loyalty.


Here’s to another 20 years.

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Stratford upon Avon

Andrea Bailey, Travel Counsellor on 01 March 2014

For lovers of the English language, Stratford-upon-Avon needs no introduction. Birthplace of the famous bard Shakespeare, it offers plenty of images that hark back to the past. The bus ride through the picturesque Cotswolds near Warwickshire heading towards Stratford-upon-Avon was pleasant. Tranquil green meadows lay on either side of the road. Thatched cottages stood in clusters forming tiny villages. Home to the much-loved Royal Shakespeare Company that has showcased Shakespeare's work since Victorian times, Stratford-upon-Avon is primarily known as the birthplace of the beloved bard. Born in 1564, Shakespeare sent his early years in Stratford and his house stands to this day in the centre of the town.

The houses are typical of the 16th century. Shakespeare's home has been lovingly restored by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and made to look just as it did at the time he was a boy. In the well-kept gardens, actors greet visitors with dramatisations from Shakespeare's plays. They run amok in the garden, waving props and hamming lines from the plays in the most thrilling fashion. Guides, who are available in each room of the house, relate the routine, sights and sounds of a typical day in the Shakespeare household.

On the ground level of the house is the main parlour and workshop of Shakespeare's father, who was an expert glove maker and wool trader. A flight of creaky wooden stairs takes you to the upper level that houses the bedrooms. What grabbed my attention were the colourful walls and doorposts, decorated in vivid hand-dyed designs, which are typical of the Tudor period. The original window glass is preserved to this day with the etched names of famous visitors such as Charles Dickens and John Keats who paid homage to the bard.

A little shop dedicated to selling Shakespeare memorabilia stands opposite his home, sharing the same pretty garden. I picked up what appeared to be an interesting book going by the title Shakesperean Insults. It was filled with plucky offensives!

All the streets in Stratford-upon-Avon led to the centrally located branch of a bank that stands at one end of Henley Street. At the other end of the street is the Jester statue, with quotes from Shakespeare's plays on the sides. Walking through this delightful little town is all about discovering little nuggets of the bard's life. Contemporary boutiques and shops make up the rest of the main streets and are all teaming with tourists.

That morning, swans and boats glided down the River Avon peacefully, lending a sense of calm to the surroundings. The much-admired landmarks of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Gower Memorial and Bancroft Gardens are hard to miss in their architectural splendour.

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A visit to the Spice Island of Zanzibar

Andrea Bailey, Travel Counsellor on 19 January 2014

Zanzibar, the spice island that lies off the coast of Tanzania, offers a wealth of history, culture, scening spots and sporting activities. I visited the island after a 12 day safari around the reserves of Kenya and Tanzania.

There is something deeply magical about Zanzibar which lies off the east coast of Africa. You will lose yourself in the bustling, colourful marketplaces filled with the freshest of produce and spices. Omani merchants arrived here on ships many years ago to trade spices, leaving their indelible mark on this flavourful island forever.

The journey from mainland Tanzania towards the island is a short journey over the Zanzibar channel as the island is only 30km from the mainland. A Unesco World Heritage Site, Stone Town is the only remaining ancient town that is fully functioning today in East Africa and is a place that is simply bursting with life and character.

The main street of Stone Town is bustling while many quieter alleys are filled with old stairways, balconies and mosques. Over the passage of time, Zanzibar has been home to varied nationalities including the British, Dutch, Arabs and Chinese.

Popular places to visit in Stone Town:

The Old Dispensary housed a dispensary, pharmacy and a doctor under one roof at the time and today is one of the most popular centres for the town's cultural events.

The rich history of this island nation is reflected in the House of Wonders Museum. Bearing testament to the melange of African, Arabian and Indian cultures, the museum's focal point is the Mtepe; a traditional Swahili boat.

The island was once a hub for a flourishing slave trade. In fact, evidence of slave trade dates back to as early as the 9th century. The old slave market is a vital part of Zanzibar's history. This is where slaves were bound and sold to the highest bidders. You can tour the dungeons where the slaves were housed.

With some of the most spectacular coral reefs, the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba are also some of the best to dive and snorkel around.

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Travel Counsellors launch recruitment film

28 August 2013

In a bid to boost its brand awareness and attract potential recruits, Travel Counsellors has launched a new global recruitment film.

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Queenstown, New Zealand

Natasha Tatana, Travel Counsellor on 25 April 2013

Situated in the South Island of New Zealand, surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown’s stunning scenery is inspiring and revitalising.


I was lucky enough to live as a child about 40 minutes from this beautiful town called Queenstown which has to be one of my favourite places to visit. I grew up being able to go skiing at the many different ski fields such as Cardrona or the Remarkables to name a few, ice skating or just a visit to many of their beautiful restaurants. There are so many things you can do here, especially for the thrill seekers!


On our last visit to Queenstown I surprised my husband by booking him on one of the highest bungee jumps in the world, The Nevis. Only accessible by private mountain access road, the only way to get to this bungee is by high wire cable car to the middle. The Nevis is situated 134m above the water running below and once you get the countdown to jump there is a free-fall of 8.5 seconds before the rope tightens and brings you back up. Let's just say I was happy I wasn't about to do this and was proud when my husband jumped showing just a hint of fear.

  
Queenstown is located close to many other beautiful places such as the Milford Sounds, Wanaka, Te Anau and more. I have a vast knowledge of this beautiful area for anyone who wants to travel to New Zealand and experience this majestic place for themselves.

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Growth 100 Travel Counsellors

25 March 2013

Founded in 1994, Bolton head-quartered luxury tour operator Travel Counsellors has proved to be something of a trail blazer in the travel industry.

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Bahamas Cruise

Sarah Pickford, Travel Counsellor on 18 March 2013

My partner and I cruised on Norwegian Sky in the Bahamas. I had never cruised with NCL before so wasn't sure what to expect but I wasn't disappointed. In the weeks before we set sail I was able to check in online to speed up the boarding process. It worked very well and embarkation was quick and easy. Unlike other some other cruise liners, this was casual and relaxed without any 'fanfare' as we boarded.  We were able to quickly go and check out our cabin.

We had a balcony cabin mid ship. It was exactly as we had expected with plenty of storage and space saving designs. The bathroom, whilst small, had a powerful and good sized shower.

When we had checked in online we also took the opportunity to pre-book the speciality restaurants. Each night of our cruise we dined in these restaurants rather than at the main buffet. Each of these restaurants, whilst having a limited menu, served excellent food and there was a very good wine list to choose from at prices to suit all budgets.

With so many bars to choose from it was hard not to keep moving around. It was great to move around the ship taking in the variety of entertainment available. We also made use of the very good spa facilities. Prices were similar to any 4* hotel spa and the treatments were a similar standard.

We enjoyed each port around the Bahamas on our cruise so we weren't on board much during the day. But when we did stay on board we had no trouble getting a space out on deck or a seat in the bars.

This was a small ship for a short cruise. But no quality of service has been lost and we look forward to cruising NCL again.

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Travel agents who put people first have a bright future

11 March 2013

The digital age and growth in the internet and e-commerce and sheer volume of business transacted online is staggering. When customers can research and do so much themselves, you are left wondering whether there is a role left for the independent travel agent professional.

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Skiing in Switzerland

Siobhan Phillips, Travel Counsellor on 09 March 2013

My husband and I have skied in France, the US, Austria and this year we chose Switzerland again.


We stayed in the village of Haute-Nendaz (1400m) in the 4 Valleys in the Swiss Alps. Arriving at Geneva it is a 2 hour scenic drive to the village. What I love about the 4 Valleys (one of the biggest ski areas in the world) is that I never get bored! Skiing around Haute-Nendaz is good for all levels, beginners to advanced.  A ski tour over to Verbier with a bit of lunch is not to be missed! 


My family and I stayed in a lovely 4 bedroom chalet for the week. The chalet offered the perfect amount of space and comfort for all. There was also a separate area for the kids to play. Most evenings everybody would be lounging around the fire place planning the next day.


The village has some lovely restaurants that serve traditional Swiss cuisine, if you don’t fancy eating out there are supermarkets that have everything you need to cook at home.  We opted for a (English speaking) babysitter for a few mornings so all the adults could enjoy skiing together. This was easily organised, with help from the local tourism office, before our trip. There is also a day care centre in the village for the little ones.


Ski lessons in your own language are easily booked in the village. If, like me, you live in Dubai you could also take some lesson in SkiDubai!

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Breaking boundaries around the world

26 November 2012

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