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 ▼|
|Grimsby, Lincolnshire||Two-centre holiday to Malta and Gozo for two weeks next summer|
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.
|Grimsby Travel Agency|
4A South Street, St. Marys Gate, Grimsby
When I entered the agency I was asked if I needed any help. I explained the type of holiday I was looking for and the agent recommended Sunspot and Belleair. She said Sunspot was a good company and had excellent offers and suggested a few hotels. She had not been to Malta or Gozo but asked a colleague who had, who explained about excursions. They said that because they were independent they could offer a lot more. Overall, this agency was helpful and friendly however it was a bit dated compared to the other agencies I visited that day.
|First Choice Travel Shop|
28 Victoria Street, West Grimsby
When I entered the agency there was nobody else in the shop, just a sales consultant who asked if I needed any help. After explaining my requirements she picked up a Thomson Small and Friendly brochure and went through the options. I said I was looking for a more upmarket hotel in Malta. She looked at gazetteers.com, which suggested the Belleair brochure, which she didn’t have. Her colleague said she was going to Malta next week and told me about the resorts, excursions and car hire.I thought they might have checked some options, but they didn’t, which was a shame as the agents were knowledgeable.
57 Victoria Street, West Grimsby
The exterior was clean and tidy and had posters with special offers on display.When I went to the brochure racks and browsed an agent approached me. I explained my requirements and she fetched the Belleair winter brochure. She highlighted key resorts giving me her knowledge of the beaches, shops, coach travel and ferry travel. She had been to the island a few years ago so she had destination knowledge and spoke confidently about it. She showed me some great hotels in the brochure and explained that Gozo was small and quiet with not a lot going on.She gave me all the information I could have wished for but she didn’t offer to check availability or obtain any prices.She gave me the brochure and told me that not all the hotels would be in the winter edition and suggested I call back in a few weeks when the summer 2007 brochure should have arrived.
|TOP SHOP ▼|
|Hops Travel Worldchoice|
15 West Street, Marys Gate, Grimsby
The outside of the agency was clean and tidy and the window was full of posters and offers. As I entered I was greeted by three smiling faces, one of which asked if she could help. After describing my requirements of a two-centre holiday to Malta and Gozo and that I would like a spa hotel in Malta and a stay in a farmhouse in Gozo she recommended the Belleair brochure as it specialises in Malta. We looked through the brochure and she involved a colleague who had been to Malta who was able to give me some first-hand information and recommendations.After looking at the brochure she found two ideal properties and offered to check the prices and availability. She called Belleair and obtained all the relevant information for me. No flight times could be given at this stage but I could leave a deposit to secure the prices at this year’s rates. The price she gave me included car hire and insurance.She was very enthusiastic and was pleased to be helping me. She said she had never booked a two-centre holiday before and found it very interesting. She used the brochure confidently and explained that the summer 2007 brochure would be available within the next month. Overall, this was positive experience.
|TOP FIVE TIPS|
Tip 1: Malta/Gozo is a popular option for a two-centre holiday. The widest selection of accommodation on the islands is offered by specialist operators Belleair and Sunspot.
Tip 2: Belleair also feature two-centre holidays with Malta and Sicily.
Tip 3: Many of the hotels on Malta and Gozo have good spa facilities. The Fortina Hotel in Sliema offers an extensive range of treatments, with three spas and therapeutic spa bedrooms.
Tip 4: There are many rural villas on Gozo, most of which have been converted from former farmhouses and have their own pool. In addition to Malta specialists, they can be found in the villa brochures of operators such as Cosmos, Style and Thomson.
Tip 5: Details of two-centre holidays can be found on gazetteers.com plus under the ‘multi-centre’ tab under the relevant resort.
This week’s request was for a two-centre holiday to Malta and Gozo travelling in Summer 2007.
About 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 www.gazetteers.com.
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