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Published on Friday, January 3, 2020

Channel 4's Holiday Secrets panned by viewers and travel industry

Last night's Channel 4 Holidays Secrets TV show, which aimed to compare the price of one family's last-minute booking with an 'identical' trip booked in advance, has been roundly panned by the travel trade and viewers.

Billed as a 'one-hour special looking at the best way to book your next getaway', the show's presenter, Scarlette Douglas (pictured, centre) aimed to book a like-for-like last minute deal that was the same as the all-inclusive villa-with-pool break in Tenerife another family had already snapped up.

Ahead of the show's airing, Channel 4 described the programme as: "Following two families staying in the same resort, at the same time, completing the same activities, we will test out if there is such a thing as a last-minute bargain…or if paying in advance for more money saves us from that unnecessary stress at the 11th hour."

Among questionable advice the second family received during the programme was to book each of their four flights separately, while a last-minute booking for an excursion saved them just a few euros.

Their 'like-for-like' last-minute 'deal'  worked out cheaper, but involved the family having to switch rooms twice during their seven-night stay and was priced on full-board accommodation, rather than all-inclusive. They had a different room type with no pool and their flights were not from the same departure airport as the original booking.

Sunvil managing director Chris Wright was among those tweeting about the programme, which showed the presenter flicking through one of the operator's brochures.

He said: "Shame Scarlette Douglas didn't take the advice of her travel agent. She had obviously visited a good one based on her choice of reading material in the intro!"

Others took to Twitter to air their views, with one saying: "If you're going to take any of the advice given on this sh**show of a programme you shouldn't be allowed to go abroad. At least not without a carer!"

Another retorted: "Remind me if I need a last-minute holiday not to seek advice from the woman on #holidaysecrets. Moving twice in seven days? No ta. Also, they are not sat together on a flight? Do me a favour."

Another said: "Who has won? The ones who had the most relaxing holiday, I would say."

Agents and operators also discussed the programme on Travel Gossip, with one member describing the show as: "Another nonsense programme on Channel 4. She saved them money but they had to move twice, did not have a villa and they did not have a pool. No mention of the times of the flights!"

Commenting on the advice of booking each flight separately, the Travel Gossiper said: "What happens when you get two tickets booked and you get to number three and find out the flight has now sold out? Sick of idiot presenters giving ridiculous information on travel."

Another Travel Gossip member said: "That excursion was only €4 less than the one booked in advance - hardly a massive saving."

Another saw the bright side, adding the programme 'may have done agents a favour'.

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  • Waste of money.

    This year I celebrate 50 years in our industry, and in that time have never seen any travel programme true to the industry we all work so extremely hard in. All TV Channels do us a favour and ask for professional expert advice, which comes from experience. we won"t charge, as we don"t for our customers.

    By SUE FOXALL, Saturday, January 4, 2020

  • Holiday Secrets - hardly!!

    What a ridiculous concept of a programme - they might as well do a follow up called 'Market Secrets' and compare potatoes to bananas! The fact that the presenter was trying to compare hotel prices from the week before to walk in prices was utterly pointless as both timeframes are considered 'last minute' by hoteliers. The only things they compared that were actually like for like were the excursion with €1 per person saved (well done!) and the car hire. It stands to reason that a car hire company with a car sitting outside would be able to offer a discount to a walk-in customer but in peak season in some resorts you'd be lucky to find a family car or a convertible. Overall my rating of the show was - pointless!

    By Christian Locke, Friday, January 3, 2020

  • So poor

    The negative feedback was inevitable. As a travel professional of more than 40 years I found myself torn between cringing and laughing out loud at this feeble attempt to convince the travelling public that the presenter's way was superior to the thoughtful and measured manner of the 'target' couple. The much repeated and oh-so-true main criticism was that there was absolutely zero parity between the two holidays. The original holiday break was far superior to the break suffered by the second family who had to travel sitting apart, had to change hotel rooms twice and enjoyed inferior facilities. What a fiasco!

    By Derek Taylor, Friday, January 3, 2020

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