Mystery shopper: Eastleigh, Hampshire

Travel Weekly's Mystery Shopper - in association with Gazetteers Plus - calls on travel agents across the UK each week to check agency appearance, brochure racking, product knowledge, sales technique and staff attitudeTravel Weekly’s Mystery Shopper calls on travel agents across the UK each week to check agency appearance, brochure racking, product knowledge, sales technique and staff attitude

Travel Weekly’s Mystery Shopper in association with Gazetteers Plus.     

Eastleigh, HampshireA spa break for two

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.

MS Thomson 210706Thomson
78 Market Street

There was only one consultant in the shop and she was busy dealing with a customer. However, she did acknowledge my arrival and told me she would only be a few minutes. I was left to browse the brochure racks, but I couldn’t find any that featured spa holidays. When the consultant came to help she looked a bit vague and said the agency didn’t sell spa holidays as such. She suggested I looked through the Thomson A La Carte brochure for a nice hotel and then check on its website to see if it offered spa facilities.

Score: 37%

MS Going Places 210706Going Places
86 Market Street

I was served by an agent who had her hands full of posters. She suggested I looked at the Airtours Prestige brochure for a five-star hotel with a spa, but she didn’t recommend one. Her colleague said Malta had good spa properties and she recommended Belleair Holidays’ brochure. Opening it up she showed me a list at the front that highlighted hotels with spas. She said they were all of a very high standard. The first consultant then gave me her business card and told me to call or pop in if I needed any prices.

Score: 49%

MS First Choice 210706First Choice
82 Market Street

One of the two consultants gave me the Sunsail Clubs brochure. She said all of its resorts featured spas, but she didn’t highlight any particular resort and she didn’t even bother to show me the page at the beginning which gave a rundown of the type of treatments available. She told me not to be put off by the title as clients didn’t have to sail to go on a Sunsail holiday, but she didn’t mention yoga or pilates. She said I should also consider a cruise as an ‘easy’ alternative. She recommended Island Cruises and gave me a copy of the brochure.

Score: 54%

MS Thomas Cook 210706Thomas Cook
59 Market Street

Two consultants were available and both offered to help. One of them immediately suggested a cruise, saying the cruise ships had good spas offering a wide range of treatments and well-equipped gyms. When I said this wasn’t what I was looking for the second agent suggested I looked at the Thomas Cook Spa and Sport brochure. Her colleague found me a copy and showed me it featured lots of hotels with spas. She recommended the Sani Beach Resort hotel in Crete, which offered a pilates programme. She said it was a fabulous property with lots of facilities and it was highly recommended by previous clients. She pointed out all the treatments would be an additional cost, but she said she could prebook everything for me. In the brochure, she showed me a ‘face and body’ package for £49, which gave some indication of prices. The property also had a sauna and a hammam and offered diving. As an alternative, she suggested Thailand, where I could get a cheap Thai massage every day.

Score: 60%


Tip 1: The Fortina Hotel in Malta has an extensive spa centre, and offers a wide range of treatments, including thalassotherapy and pilates. It is featured by several operators including Airtours, Belleair, Sunspot and Thomas Cook.

Tip 2: The Sani Beach Resort is in Halkidiki, not Crete, but does offer an extensive range of treatments.

Tip 3: Thomas Cook’s Spa and Sport brochure showcases many Med hotels with spas.

Tip 4: Specialist operator Erna Low offers health and beauty holidays in 24 countries, including Spain, Portugal, Malta, Greece and Cyprus.

Tip 5: Spa holidays can be found on Gazetteersplus under Spas/health and beauty; however, this only includes dedicated holidays or operators who offer prebookable packages.


This week Mystery Shopper was looking for a spa break as a treat to herself and her friend. They wanted to go somewhere in the Mediterranean that would be warm but not too hot.

They wanted a range of spa treatments, including massages and facials, but they were looking for a spa that would also offer some sort of exercise programme, such as yoga or pilates, to kick-start their new health regime.

Mystery Shopper stressed to agents they didn’t just want a hotel with a steam room and a sauna with the odd half-hearted massage thrown in. They were looking for something a bit more upscale, and they also wanted to prebook treatments so they would know the full cost of their trip before they left.

They wanted to go for no longer than a week.

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

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