Wanted: A couple in their 40s are looking for a relaxing break in Greece or the Greek islands, away from crowds and out of the busy summer season – not in the school holidays. They want to see a bit of the local culture and also request a spa and sports facilities at their hotel. They would like to know about flight times and airlines too, and what activities and attractions would be available in the area to see and do.
Tui Holiday Store
16/18 Queen Victoria Street
Impression: The shop was clean with neat window and brochure displays. Employees were dressed smartly in their uniforms.
Service: I was not acknowledged as I arrived because all the agents were busy, and I waited 22 minutes until one was free. However, the agent gave plenty of options and had lots of knowledge about the area, advising me about the best hotels, facilities, food, activities and local culture. We talked about bus routes to the town centre and other towns. I was given a phone number to call if I had any further questions. The recommendations were excellent and matched my scenario, although no extras were offered. The agent was confident, attentive and enthusiastic – I got excited thinking about the holiday. I felt as though they really wanted to find me the best holiday, and they contacted me a couple of days later to follow up the inquiry.
Quotes: Both were seven-night Tui holidays in September, flying from Gatwick to Kos. The first was staying at Tui Sensimar Oceanis Beach & Spa Resort for £2,596. The second was Tui Magic Life Marmari Palace By Atlantica for £2,290.
Overall: Despite the initial delay, the agent was keen to provide detailed information and images about hotels and resorts – and the quotes matched the brief very well.
Thames Valley Travel
13 London Road Twyford
Impression: The store was well maintained, with tidy window and brochure displays. The employees were presentable and looked professional.
Service: I was acknowledged immediately, and after discussing my requirements, I was offered several options. The agent had good product knowledge and recommended a hotel that they had stayed in themselves. The agent said they had received positive feedback from couples who had booked these resorts with them. The service from the agent was enthusiastic, friendly and attentive, but they did not pursue a sale nor offer any extras. I was given a business card and advised to think about the options before booking.
Quotes: Both were seven-night breaks with Olympic Holidays in September, flying from Gatwick to Crete with Thomas Cook Airlines. The first would be staying at Blue Palace Resort and Spa, for £3,310, and the second at Porto Elounda Golf and Spa Resort, for £2,180. The hotels suited my requirements as they had pool, spa and sports facilities – although the first was rather over the budget.
Overall: The agent listened closely and matched the shopper’s requirements, while showing their knowledge about Crete and the resorts. But they didn’t ask for the booking while the shopper was in the agency or follow up afterwards.
Impression: The shop was within a John Lewis department store. It was well maintained, as were the window and brochure displays. Staff looked smart and professional in their uniforms.
Service: I was acknowledged immediately and outlined my requirements to an agent, who had a brief look at options on their computer. They said it may take some time to find my ideal holiday as the options coming up did not match my requirements. The agent offered instead to email quotations. The agent knew about the Greek islands and resorts, but I was not offered any additional extras.
Quotes: The first quote was for a 10-night holiday in September, flying from Heathrow to Athens with British Airways. I would stay at Pallas Athena Grecotel boutique hotel in Athens, on a bed-and-breakfast basis, for £2,724 including private transfers. The agent said this was a lovely hotel, away from the busy streets but I would be able to walk to nearby museums and landmarks. The second quote was for seven nights in Villa Viola, a self-catering family villa in Paxos, available with CV Villas in September, for £1,906 with transfers but no flights. Neither property offered a spa or sporting facilities.
Overall: The properties were excellent and in lovely locations, but didn’t closely match the shopper’s requirements.
Sophie Vokes, travel advisor
“Greece is quite a popular destination, especially Crete, and we do get people asking for our brands – Sensimar and Magic Life. I’ve just come back from Halkidiki – it was my first holiday to Greece. We have training about destinations and products and my nickname is the sponge as I absorb everything.”
The winning Tui agent was knowledgeable and managed to enthuse the mystery shopper with the choices on offer, which closely matched the brief.
The Thames Valley Travel agent also offered suitable holidays but didn’t chase the booking.
The Kuoni agent found two lovely properties but they weren’t really what the shopper was seeking.
The top-scoring agent each weeks bags a £25 Amazon or Love2Shop voucher, courtesy of Elite Island Resorts.
Elite Island Resorts offers eight all-inclusive beach properties in the Caribbean.
Antigua: Galley Bay Resort & Spa; Hammock Cove Resort & Spa; St James’s Club & Villas; The Verandah Resort & Spa; and Pineapple Beach Club.
Barbados: The Club, Barbados Resort & Spa
Saint Lucia: St James’s Club Morgan Bay
St Vincent & The Grenadines: Palm Island Resort & Spa.
As well as all-inclusive Caribbean holidays in beachfront locations, Elite Island Resorts offers family and adult-only resorts, and free wedding and honeymoon packages.
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