STRANGE as it may seem, murder mystery weekends are one of the best sellers on the domestic market.

The majority of sales come through retail agents, and although they aren’t expensive, many are group bookings – such as office parties, particularly around Christmas.

“Some agents will say they don’t have a market for this, but they do. They just have to put offers in their window and they will get some enquiries,” said Highlife Breaks sales manager for Scotland and Ireland Angela Muir.

Murder mystery weekends are cheap, but attract big group bookings - agents who don't take advantage could be missing a trick“People won’t come in the agency and ask for a murder mystery break,” said Embassy Leisure Breaks national sales manager Penni Graham. “But once you suggest it to them they usually become interested. Promote the breaks and you will get some interest.”

Embassy Leisure Breaks has even hosted a VIP murder mystery weekend to promote the product to the trade. One of the participants was Harvey World Travel commercial manager Cherie Bailey (see ‘The agent’, below). She said: “It was well organised and we had a lot of fun, I’d definitely do it again.”

The agent

Harvey World Travel commercial manager Cherie BaileyHarvey World Travel commercial manager Cherie Bailey gives her tips on selling murder mystery breaks

  • Murder mystery packages can be sold to all types of customer
  • These breaks are good value for money. For example, Embassy Leisure Break sells the Quality Langham in Eastbourne from £57 per person for one night’s accommodation in a three-star hotel, a three-course dinner and full breakfast plus the murder mystery entertainment
  • Remember: other hotel facilities can be used during a break
  • All the breaks are written and hosted by professional murder mystery companies with a team of actors. They will keep the story moving and ensure all guests have a great evening
  • Because everyone gets involved, murder mystery breaks are a great idea for singles and some operators, such as Embassy, don’t charge a single supplement

The holidaymaker

James Darling, a murder mystery weekend fan, and the Winnock Hotel Loch Lomond, where his last break was heldJames Darling is chairman of the social club at a technology supplier in Livingstone, Scotland. Each year the club organises a murder mystery weekend; the latest was held at the Winnock Hotel on Loch Lomond.

The break was packaged by Highlife Breaks and bought through Thomas Cook. A one-night murder mystery at the Winnock Hotel costs from £69 per person on a half-board basis, with Highlife Breaks

Why did you choose a murder mystery break?
Many of our partners like to be weekend sleuths. It’s interesting to go on different murder mystery weekends and see how they compare.

Did it meet your expectations?
Yes. We arrived on Friday and had dinner and drinks followed by a day to ourselves on Saturday – at that stage we didn’t know which of the guests were actors. At the end of the meal on Saturday somebody collapsed and we were told there had been a murder. Police came in and told us what had happened and we found out the suspects and main players. It really got us thinking. During the night there were further incidents – for example, I found some broken glass outside my bedroom door. It wasn’t until after breakfast the next day that we were told the final conclusions.

What was the highlight?
Probably in the morning, when the identity of the murderer was revealed – over the weekend the suspense really built up. Then everything falls into place – I realised things like the smashed glass outside my room were all part of the act. It was all really intriguing and we all enjoyed the weekend.

What was the hotel like?
The hotel was very nice, with a big log fire in reception, beams and a very homely feel. My wife and I had a family room which was huge, and there was plenty of parking. The food was excellent; I had the local salmon one night and beef stroganoff the other.

Any low points?
There was nothing I would change.

What would your advice be to agents selling murder mysteries?
Make sure the customer books it and goes.

Would you go back?
We’re going back in a month for another weekend.