Mystery Shopper: Bangor, Gwynedd

    In association with Gazetteers Plus

Bangor, GwyneddA family trip to the Venetian Riviera

Each week, Mystery Shopper calls on agents across the UK. Shops are judged on five criteria:

Agency appearance (15%)
Brochure racking (10%)
Product knowledge (25%)
Sales technique (25%)
Staff attitude (25%)

The top-scoring agency receives a Travel Weekly certificate of commendation. Agencies must score a minimum of 60% to qualify. Any agency that scores under 30% will be named and shamed as this week’s Shop of Horrors. Please note, no additional information will be given about Mystery Shopper’s visits.

mystery shopper 060106 - thomsonTHOMSON
217b High Street

Both of the consultants were free when I entered the shop but neither of them acknowledged me. When I approached one with my request she gave me a Magic of Italy brochure from the racks and her colleague suggested I also took the Thomson Summer Sun brochure. I asked if both had accommodation close to Venice and the first agent said there were maps inside that would show me where the hotels were located. Opening the brochures to show me was obviously too much trouble. Only the Magic brochure was labelled with the agency’s details.

Score: 29%

mystery shopper 060106 - going placesGOING PLACES
278 High Street

There was only one consultant in the shop and, as she was busy, I looked at the almost empty brochure racks. Eventually a second agent appeared and disappeared again for quite a while to look for brochures. She returned with the Airtours Summer Sun and handed it over, saying she’d checked it featured the Venetian Riviera and it had properties that were suitable for families. She opened the brochure and showed me there was a resort just a short drive from Venice. When I asked her where the flights went from she checked that I could fly from Manchester.

Score: 36%

mystery shopper 060106 - co-opCO-OP TRAVEL
228 High Street

Although there were several agents free, no-one offered to serve me. Eventually I approached one and her colleague suggested the Airtours brochure, which featured Lido de Jesolo, while another recommended Cosmos and a third suggested First Choice. She got the Airtours, First Choice and Thomas Cook brochures, opened them up and checked the contents before handing them over. When I asked how close it was to Venice she said I could take a train or she could organise car hire for me. She also confirmed I could fly from Manchester.

Score: 49%

mystery shopper 060106 - thomas cookTHOMAS COOK
252 High Street

There were two consultants but one was busy and other was on the phone, so I spent a short while browsing brochures. I was looking through the Thomson Summer Sun brochure when one consultant became free. She immediately recommended Lido de Jesolo, saying it was great for families with an excellent beach and nice hotels. She pointed out that, as well as being close to Venice, it was close to Milan and she said we could even cross over the border into Croatia. She said I could book the family on organised day trips but she recommended hiring a car for the week to give us more flexibility. She said flights from Gatwick and Manchester went directly into Venice, so the transfer to the resort was short. She said the only possible drawback to the Lido de Jesolo was it didn’t have child-specific activities such as water parks, but she said the beach compensated for what it lacked in other facilities. Showing me some of the hotels in the Thomson brochure, she said several other operators featured the resort, but recommended I just took one brochure to begin with.

Score: 69%


Tip 1: Several beach resorts comprise the Venetian Riviera either side of Venice including Venice Lido, closest to the city, and the extensive Lido di Jesolo.

Tip 2: Destinations that offer kids’ clubs are clearly marked on the Gazetteers Plus website with a teddy bear logo. These clubs can be run by operators, hotels or by private companies.

Tip 3: Be aware that standards of kids’ clubs can vary. Good ones will provide well-trained English-speaking staff, knowledge of first aid and a high ratio of staff to kids.

Tip 4: Plenty of hotel and self-catering packages are available in the area. Club Cantabrica offers a beachside campsite at Lido di Jesolo.

Tip 5: Venice is served by most UK regional airports although most operators use at least Manchester and Gatwick.


Mystery Shopper wanted to take her family to Venice during the summer holidays but she didn’t want to stay in the city itself as she thought her two children, aged nine and 11, would get bored after a few days. Instead, she was looking for a beach resort close enough to Venice to be able to visit on a day trip but which would offer enough other attractions to keep them entertained for a week. As she had never been to the Venetian Riviera before, she also wanted advice on how easy it would be to travel around. She didn’t specify whether she wanted to stay in a hotel, apartment or campsite, but she would have considered any type of accommodation. She didn’t specify her budget either, but if the agents had asked she would have told them she had a maximum of £3,000. She wanted a package that included flights from her local airport.

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