Mystery Shopper: Gloucester

    In association with Gazetteers Plus

Gloucester Beach/golfing break in Malaysia

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 220606 - co-opCo-op Travel
20 Southgate Street

The consultant got the Gold Medal Far East and Kuoni Worldwide brochures but failed to spot any golf courses. Turning to the Gazetteers Plus website she found a couple of direct-sell companies and wrote their names and numbers down for me. She suggested that if I found golf courses in either of their brochures she could book me a hotel nearby. Taking a second look at the Gold Medal brochure she did eventually find a golf course at the Berjaya Tioman Beach Gold and Spa resort in Kuantan. She turned down the page for me and handed over the brochure.

Score: 46%

mystery shopper 220606 - thomas cookThomas Cook
24 Eastgate Street

This consultant didn’t know of any golf courses in Malaysia but went to get a copy of the Longshot Golf brochure to check. Unfortunately it didn’t feature Malaysia, but she suggested I took it away in case I was tempted to go somewhere else instead. Just as I was about to leave , the consultant got a copy of the Thomas Cook Signature brochure and found a couple of golf courses in Langkawi and Borneo. Checking the weather in the Kuoni brochure, she said Langkawi would be drier than Borneo. She suggested I looked for more information on the Internet.

Score: 49%

mystery shopper 220606 - thomsonThomson
34 Eastgate Street

The consultant admitted she didn’t know of any golf courses in Malaysia. She asked a colleague, only to be told there were courses in Thailand. The first consultant then rang a colleague upstairs but she hadn’t spotted any golf courses on her travels in Malaysia either. We looked through the Hayes and Jarvis brochure and found an 18-hole course in Kuantan and another in the Kuoni brochure at the Sheraton in Langkawi. The consultant said Kuantan was wetter than Langkawi in November – and again suggested I looked on the Internet for more information.

Score: 50%

mystery shopper 220606 - going placesGoing Places
10 Westgate Street

There was only one consultant free when I entered the shop and she left me to browse for a couple of minutes. She immediately checked the Gazetteers Plus website to find out which operators offer golf in Malaysia and came up with Kuoni and Thomson Worldwide. She explained that she didn’t have a copy of the Thomson brochure, but for “a holiday of a lifetime” I should travel with Kuoni anyway. She said the quality of the holiday would be better, adding (incorrectly) that Thomson used charter flights, which were more cramped than the scheduled flights used by Kuoni. She did say the Thomson packages might be “a little” cheaper, however. Flicking through the Kuoni brochure she found a couple of 18-hole golf courses in Langkawi, close to the Datai and Andaman hotels, and she said I might find others if I looked through the brochure. Checking the weather chart at the back of the Kuoni brochure she said November was a pretty good time, though she thought December had less rainfall. She failed to spot the east coast of Malaysia is very wet in November.

Score: 52%


Tip 1: There are almost 200 golf courses in Malaysia, from Kuala Lumpur and the highlands to the islands of Penang, Langkawi and Borneo.

Tip 2: Langkawi island has three courses, including Datai Bay. This is adjacent to the Andaman and Datai hotels, which are both featured by many operators.

Tip 3: There are over 20 courses in Borneo. The Sutera Harbour Resort in Kota Kinabalu has a 27-hole championship course, and its two hotels are featured by several operators.

Tip 4: More rain falls on the east coast than the west, and Borneo has more rain than peninsular Malaysia, especially between November and March.

Tip 5: Golf holidays are listed on Gazetteers Plus under the ‘special interest holidays’.


Mystery Shopper had her sights set on a relaxing holiday in Malaysia, but her husband refused to go with her unless she could guarantee there would be a good golf course where he could improve his technique while she topped up her tan. She was hoping agents in Gloucester would be knowledgeable enough about the destination to tell her where the best courses were and find her a hotel nearby. She also wanted to know what time of year to travel to avoid heavy rainfall. She was thinking of going in November, but could delay her travel plans if that was a bad time. There was little to choose between the agents in Gloucester as none seemed to have first-hand knowledge of Malaysia or golfing holidays, but they all did their best to find a suitable holiday, some with more success than others.

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