In association with Gazetteers Plus

Salisbury, Wiltshire Prague/Vienna multi-centre weekend

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 salisbury - thomson 170206THOMSON
63 Silver Street

The two consultants on duty in this small agency were both free but apparently glued to their seats. One of them said she couldn’t offer a ready-made package that included both cities, but she said she could organise a multi-centre trip by booking flights and accommodation separately. When I asked for a rough idea of the cost she said: “It depends on the flights available”. But she didn’t offer to check prices for me. Pointing at the brochure racks she told me to take the Thomson Citybreaks brochure and come back when I’d chosen some hotels. And pigs might fly.

Score: 29%

mystery shopper sailsbury - first choice - 170206FIRST CHOICE
Old George Mall

The consultant said that for a twin-centre package she would have to book flights and accommodation separately, but pointed out this would probably be quite expensive. She didn’t offer to check prices. She said she could book flights between Prague and Vienna but not train tickets. She opened the Cresta Cities brochure to show me some of the hotels that were available, but even then she didn’t spot the blurb that said the operator could arrange Prague/Vienna twin-centres. She also gave me the Superbreak brochure to give me a greater choice of hotels.

Score: 48%

mystery shopper salisbury - bath travel - 170206BATH TRAVEL
13 Minster Street

The sales consultant said it was definitely possible to book a multi-centre trip. She recommended Kirker Holidays and got me their Short Breaks for Discerning Travellers brochure. She pointed out that it would be more expensive to combine two cities into one break, but she didn’t show me any packages or offer to find any prices. She also gave me the Cresta Cities brochure to compare prices, but again she didn’t show me any sample packages. When I looked myself later, I couldn’t find twin-centre packages combining Prague and Vienna in the Kirker brochure.

Score: 49%

mystery shopper salisbury - thomas cook - 170206THOMAS COOK
18 Queen Street

This was a very large agency with four consultants – two were doing paperwork and two were engaged in (personal) phone calls. I would have looked at some city-break brochures if there had been any available, but that section of the rack was entirely empty. Eventually one sorted out her personal life and put down the phone. On hearing my request she said it would be “quite a faff” to organise but went off to dig out some brochures. She returned with Eurobreak and Cresta brochures, telling me I could use these to pick out hotels and then she would book the flights separately. She showed me how to work out the price for the accommodation. She said it would be best to fly from Prague to Vienna, though admitted this might be expensive. She said if I wanted to travel by rail between the cities I would have to book it myself. She said this would be quite complicated, adding that unfortunately she wasn’t allowed to get me the international rail enquiries number. She missed the fact Eurobreaks offers rail transfers from Prague to Vienna from £40.

Score: 53%


Tip 1: The Prague/Vienna combination is a popular one and is featured by many operators including Cresta, Eurobreak and Thomas Cook.

Tip 2: There are several flights a day between Prague and Vienna. A return flight to Prague with a no-frills airline could be cheaper, but it would depend on the airline’s availability.

Tip 3: There are direct trains between Prague and Vienna. The train journey takes about four hours. At £35 for a single fare, this would probably be the cheapest and most convenient option.

Tip 4: It could be possible to dynamically package a holiday like this. Gazetteers Plushas details of such companies under both cities.

Tip 5: Gazetteers Pluslists twin-centre holidays under the ‘multi-centre’ tab under the relevant resort.


Mystery Shopper wanted to combine Prague and Vienna in a single weekend away. She wanted to book a four-night package that included flights from the UK to Prague, transport from Prague to Vienna, and flights back to the UK from Vienna. She wanted advice on the cheapest way to travel, in particular whether it would be cheaper to fly into and back out of Prague, rather than booking an open-jaw ticket that would allow her to fly back from Vienna. She also wondered whether it would be cheaper to travel by train between the two cities, rather than flying. She needed hotel accommodation in both cities. The response from travel agents was disappointing. If they had looked closely at the brochures they would have found that this particular twin-centre was fairly straightforward to organise.

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