Mystery Shopper: Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

    In association with Gazetteers Plus

Cheltenham, GloucestershireA girls’ weekend in Dubrovnik, Croatia

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 160606 - coopCO-OP TRAVEL
204 High Street

No-one offered to serve me, even after I’d been browsing for a while and made it obvious I couldn’t find the brochures I was looking for. This was surprising as there were three consultants and no other customers. I approached one consultant who checked on her computer but failed to find any operators offering Dubrovnik as a short break. She said the city was “not the easiest place in the world to get to”. She said I could book flights and hotels separately, but said the air fares would be very expensive. She suggested we considered going somewhere else instead.

Score: 29%

mystery shopper 160606 - thomsonTHOMSON
88 High Street

After confirming with a colleague that Dubrovnik is in Croatia, the consultant gave me the Thomson Croatia brochure, but pointed out it only featured seven and 14-night holidays. On the advice of her colleague, she also checked the Thomson Beach Breaks brochure, but it didn’t include Dubrovnik. I was about to leave empty-handed when the same colleague suggested she checked the cities brochures. My consultant disappeared and returned with a file copy of the Thomson Cities brochure, but she said the price for a three-night break was £900 per person.

Score: 46%

mystery shopper 160606 - thomas cookTHOMAS COOK
159 High Street

There were lots of consultants and I was served after only a minute or two. I’d already found hotels in Dubrovnik in Superbreak’s accommodation-only brochure, but the consultant said the city wasn’t featured by any short-breaks operators and went to look for other brochures. She returned with Balkan Holidays and Holiday Options’ brochures, saying the minimum duration featured was seven nights but they would put together shorter breaks on request. She said when I had chosen a hotel, she would look at booking flights and accommodation separately.

Score: 58%

mystery shopper 160606 - going placesGOING PLACES
114 High Street

I was served by one consultant who, after briefly checking with a colleague, got a copy of the Cresta Cities brochure. Opening it up she showed me it offered three hotels in Dubrovnik. She pointed out that the brochure prices were based on two nights but said we could stay for as long as we liked. I would need to go back when I had chosen a hotel to check the price, she said, as the brochure price was only a guide. She said the operator often had special offers, such as four nights for the price of three, which she would be able to tell me about when I went back to book. It would have helped if she had given me a business card or if the brochure had the agency’s details. When I asked if it would be cheaper to book flights and hotels separately, she said it usually worked out more expensive. Her colleague told me that, as October was getting close to the end of the season, the weather would be getting cooler and “things” would be closing for the winter. She urged me to go early in the month.

Score: 59%


Tip 1: Dubrovnik is very popular both as a city-break destination and as a beach resort. Gazetteers Plus lists more than 20 operators who go there, many of whom offer breaks of two or three nights.

Tip 2: Eurobreak have the three-star Hotel Lero, which is a mile from the old town, with British Airways flights from Gatwick.

Tip 3: Balkan and Holiday Options have a large selection of hotels in Dubrovnik, but neither can offer weekend breaks.

Tip 4: The weather in October is likely to be warm with showers, and temperatures in the low 20s.

Tip 5: It could be possible to dynamically package a holiday like this. Gazetteers Plus currently lists 10 companies under the “dynamic” and “accommodation only” tabs for Dubrovnik.


Mystery Shopper and a group of seven friends had decided on Dubrovnik for a girls’ weekend away with a difference. They wanted to book flights and four twin rooms in a decent three-star hotel, preferably close to the old town. They were planning to travel on the first or second weekend of October and stay for three nights, but they wanted to know if the weather would still be warm enough at that time of the year to enjoy al fresco dining, although they weren’t planning on sunbathing as the main purpose of the visit was to sightsee and soak up some culture. Sadly, Mystery Shopper and her mates seemed to have chosen the one destination that agents in Cheltenham knew little about. One even told Mystery Shopper she could book her a trip to “any other city in the world” except Dubrovnik. The Internet beckons…..

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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

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