Travel 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.
|THE TARGET ▼||WANTED ▼|
|Solihull, West Midlands||A family holiday to Lapland in November|
Agency appearance (15%)
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.
1 Oxhill Road, Shirley
When I arrived at the agency one of the staff was talking to other customers. As I browsed through some brochures another member of staff came in from outside and asked if she could help before she even put her bag down. I asked about brochures and she showed me the Lapland Canterbury Tales and Canterbury Lapland Experience. When I asked about availability she told me it was busy so advised me to book soon. I asked her to recommend a length of time to go for and she replied “only a day really”. I tried to ask more questions, but she told me to look at the brochures and call back.
177 Stratford Road, Shirley
I entered the agency and looked for a brochure on Lapland. It took at least five minutes before I was approached by a consultant who asked if I needed help. I told her what I was looking for and she went into the back to find the Lapland Canterbury Tales brochure. She made a note of my requirements. We were then approached by another consultant who explained her colleague was in training, and asked if I minded her coming to help. She checked the prices and availability and wrote them down for me and gave me her card.
182 Stratford Road, Shirley
I walked into the agency and was approached at once by a consultant. I asked for a brochure which featured Lapland, and she went into the back to get the Cosmos Winter Sun brochure. She checked availability for November and December and gave me print-outs of prices for short breaks and day trips. I asked her which she thought was best and got a reply of “totally up to you”. She recommended I have a look in the brochures and compare prices. She was efficient and professional, however I felt she could have given me a little more information and advice.
|Midlands Co-op Travel|
173b Stratford Road, Shirley
I walked into the shop and before I could look at the brochures, a consultant asked if she could help me. I asked for brochures on Lapland and she searched and found me Cosmos Lapland, Canterbury Lapland Experience and Thomson 2006. I asked for prices on day trips and short breaks. She was then joined by another consultant and they both performed various price searches and while they did this I asked questions on the different resorts. They explained there were several, and began to show me in the brochures. They suggested I had a more in-depth look at which resort would suit our needs. I asked where Lapland was and was told it is Finland near the border of Sweden. I felt the two consultants made a lot of effort to answer my questions and search for what I was looking for. They followed this up with brochures, several different prices for different breaks and had given me the most information out of the four agents I visited that day. They were friendly, efficient and professional and I would book a holiday with this agency.
|TOP FIVE TIPS|
Tip 1:Lapland is a region within the Arctic Circle and includes Finland, Sweden and Norway; however the Finnish part is most popular for holidays.
Tip 2:Several operators, including Canterbury Travel, Cosmos, First Choice and Transun, have dedicated brochures.
Tip 3:The region’s big draw is Santa Claus’ village in Rovaniemi. Winter sports such as snowmobiling, reindeer safaris, dog sledding and cross-country skiing, are also very popular.
Tip 4:An ideal way to visit the region on a budget would be on a day trip.
Tip 5:Holidays to Lapland can be found on Gazetteers Plus under the special interest category ‘Santa Claus/Lapland’, and day trips can be found under the same category.
This week Mystery Shopper was after a pre-Christmas family holiday to Lapland for two adults and two children aged two and four in November. She wanted to surprise her family by taking them to Lapland for a Christmas treat. The kids wanted to see Santa but Mystery Shopper also wanted to know what else was on offer to keep them occupied. She was keen to keep the price down as much as possible. All the agents seemed to know which brochures featured Lapland and were familiar with the product. The winning agency offered the best customer service and answered all the questions Mystery Shopper had. In a couple of the agencies an excellent display of teamwork was shown. In the winning agency the two consultants worked well together and offered Mystery Shopper a variety of products and prices.
About Gazetteers Plus
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