In association with Gazetteers Plus

Ely, Cambridgeshire A twin-centre holiday combining Athens and a mainland Greek resort

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 110506 thomsonTHOMSON
29 Market Place

This shop had a good corner location, but that’s the best that can be said of it. There were so many gaps in the racks I wanted to suggest the staff popped over the road to Premier to borrow a few of their brochures to make the place look better. I was served immediately but the consultant seemed doubtful when she heard my request. She checked her system but said the only operator featuring the Greek mainland was Amathus and Thomson didn’t sell their holidays anymore. I asked her if she was sure there were no others, and she said yes.

Score: 29%

mystery shopper 110506 first choiceFIRST CHOICE
23 High Street

The shop was crowded but I only had to wait a couple of minutes before a consultant offered to help. He picked up the First Choice brochure but then said I needed a more specialist operator and he reached for the Kosmar Greece and Turkey and the Olympic Holidays brochures, which he said featured several mainland resorts. He suggested resorts in the Peloponnese were closer to Athens than Halkidiki, and he showed me on a map. He suggested I took a charter flight to a beach resort then travelled to Athens from where I could buy a scheduled flight home.

Score: 50%

mystery shopper 110506 thomas cookTHOMAS COOK
11 Market Street

This was an attractive shop with a good corner location on a pedestrian street. It had well-stocked brochure racks. I was served straight away by a consultant who spent a while looking for brochures, but eventually came up with Argo. She showed me that I could spend three nights in Athens, after which the operator provided transfers to a choice of beach resorts. She showed me a selection of nice hotels in Athens and Halkidiki. She said I ‘might’ be able to fly back from the beach resort rather than having to return to Athens to fly home.

Score: 60%

mystery shopper 110506 premierPREMIER TRAVEL
2 Forehill

This was a nice agency with lots of neatly racked brochures and plenty of space for customers to mill around. There was also a bucket filled with children’s toys, but I wasn’t sure whether this was a toy box or a bin. I was served immediately by one consultant who suggested Sunvil, saying it featured a number of beach resorts on the mainland that could be sold as twin centres with Athens. She told me it also offered flydrive itineraries with a couple of nights in several different locations. When I said I only wanted a twin-centre holiday, she said I could drive straight from Athens to a number of beach resorts that were between two and four-and-a-half hours away. She said all the driving distances were marked in the brochure and Sunvil’s flights were from Gatwick or Heathrow, but said it would be cheaper to book EasyJet flights from Luton and arrange the car hire and accommodation separately. She suggested I took the brochure to choose a couple of hotels, after which she would work out a price for me for the entire package.

Score: 61%


Tip 1: The Grand Resort Lagonissi is a deluxe hotel with a good range of facilities, spread out on a peninsula about 25 miles south of Athens.

Tip 2: This hotel is sold by several specialist operators, including Amathus, Argo and Planet Holidays. They will tailormake a twin-centre holiday, using scheduled flights from Heathrow or Gatwick.

Tip 3: Sunvil Holidays will tailormake a twin-centre holiday combining Athens with a resort such as Nafplion or Tolon in the Peloponnese, from Heathrow or Gatwick.

Tip 4: This would be a good holiday to dynamically package; Gazetteers Plus lists several companies under Athens and mainland beach resorts

Tip 5: Flyglobespan flies from Stansted to Athens daily from June 30. EasyJet flies daily from Luton.


Mystery Shopper wanted to go to the Greek mainland for two weeks in June, combining a visit to Athens with a beach holiday. She planned to fly into the capital for couple of nights before travelling to a coastal resort. She wanted agents to tell her which were the most accessible beach resorts from Athens and the transfer time. She was happy to hire a car and drive herself, as long as they could reassure her that the roads were safe. She wanted to book flights, accommodation, in Athens and at the beach resort, and car hire if necessary. She was looking for a centrally located hotel in Athens and a good quality beach hotel for herself and her partner. Ideally, they wanted to fly from nearby Stansted, or failing that Luton or one of the other London airports.

Logo: DG&G GazeteersAbout Gazetteers Plus

Gazetteers Plus, from DG&G Travel Information gives you a single website that means you need never fear being mystery shopped again! Gazetteers Plus combines all our unique and unbiased data – destination/resort guides, hotel reviews, tour operator details, passport and visa – and sorts it the way you want it. With superb search functionality and additional hi-tech features such as online brochures, photos and interactive maps, you’ll find it hard to believe that travel agents ever managed without it. Gazetteers Plus provides agents with all the product knowledge you need to meet and exceed customer expectations. Log on at

mystery shopper black thumbTo view more Mystery Shopper articles click here