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.     

Bath, AvonA seven-night river cruise on the Rhine

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 gave Going Places, 10 Abbeygate Street, Bath a score of 39%Going Places
10 Abbeygate Street

When I walked in the agents were either with customers or on the phone – it took quite a while to get noticed. Having eventually sat down with an agent and explained what I was looking for, she consulted some brochures. She phoned Cosmos which informed her they no longer operated the cruise we were interested in – the same thing happened with Cresta. The agent asked her colleagues who all offered suggestions but couldn’t help. They recommended searching the Internet as the operators they used clearly could not match my request.

Score: 39%

Mystery Shopper gave First Choice, 10 Northumberland Place, Bath a score of 50%First Choice
10 Northumberland Place

The consultant approached me straight away and was friendly and very enthusiastic. I explained what I was looking for and she picked out the relevant brochures. She started to look through the brochures and then began to check availability, while doing this she did not really keep me informed until I prompted her for information. Cosmos no longer featured the cruise we were looking at and the WA Shearings’ brochure she had was out of date. With that she advised me to call back in a few weeks’ time when the new brochure would be available.

Score: 50%

Mystery Shopper gave Thomas Cook, 20 New Bond Street, Bath a score of 54%Thomas Cook
20 New Bond Street

I was approached in a very friendly and polite consultant. I briefly explained what I was looking for and the agent went to consult some brochures. Cosmos Tourama offered a match to my requirements and the agent explained the details and what the tour included. When the agent rang to find out availability Cosmos told her she would have to wait until a new brochure came out at the end of the month to find out prices. She then checked several other operators but could not find anything and suggested I came back when the Cosmos brochure came out.

Score: 54%

Mystery Shopper gave World Market Travel, 7 New Bond Street Place, Bath the winning score of 69%World Market Travel
7 New Bond Street Place

The agent offered help as soon as I walked in. I explained the plan for the cruise and she showed me some brochures. The agent noticed the Cosmos brochure was out of date so she checked for availability and was told to wait for the new brochure. She went out of her way to look up other possible operators and call them. Eventually she had a breakthrough with Travel Renaissance Holidays online. Availability was confirmed for April 14 and she printed out the itinerary. I asked about extras and I was given the brochure for travel insurance they offered, which was very reasonable. Her product knowledge was outstanding and she explored every possible avenue. The only negative was the cost as it was over £300 per person above the other brochure prices. Fast, efficient, friendly and obviously very experienced I would not think twice about returning to this agent to book my next holiday. Well done!

Score: 69%


Tip 1: The Rhine is one of Europe’s longest rivers running through Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands. Its most scenic section is the Rhine gorge between Koblenz and Bingen.

Tip 2: Cosmos Tourama offers a seven-night Treasures of the Rhine cruise from Basel to Amsterdam from April next year, which also includes flights from the UK.

Tip 3: WA Shearings offers a seven-night Rhine and Moselle cruise from May next year, which includes coach travel from departure points throughout the UK.

Tip 4: If you don’t have next year’s brochure, call the operator to check availability rather than ask the customer to call back.

Tip 5: Rhine cruises can be found on Gazetteers Plus under the special interest category ‘river cruises’ . There are 12 operators listed under Germany.


Mystery Shopper requested a cruise on the River Rhine in Germany.

Most of the agents knew where to find the information but some of the brochures were out of date, so Mystery Shopper was told to call back in a few weeks.

The agents should have taken the details of Mystery Shopper so they could call when brochures were available, making the customer feel valued and also hopefully keeping the sale.

All agents used a wide selection of brochures. The winning agent really did go the extra mile. Her product knowledge helped and she was able to explore other avenues apart from just using the brochures.

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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