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.com.     

THE TARGET ?WANTED ?
HuddersfieldA winter sun learn-to-dive holiday with dive package

RULES
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.

Thomas Cook
5 High Street, Huddersfield

From the outside this agency looked like a new shop and was impressive. Unfortunately it seemed as though I had walked in on a team meeting, as six members of staff were huddled at one end of the agency. I browsed the brochure racks and was approached by an agent who seemed disinterested in my request. She had to make several referrals to the manager, who was helpful.I was given details of a good hotel where the Padi diving course was run from and she found insurance to fit the package.I was given all the details along with the relevant brochure, the Neilson Active Holiday Experts.

Score:53%

Going Places
68-70 New Street, Huddersfield

When I was asked what type of holiday I required, the consultant recommended Sharm El Sheikh and Ovda and gave me the Aspro, Airtours and Panorama brochures. I left the agency and five minutes later I received a call advising me that the agency’s insurance would not cover me for diving and she would have to find an alternative insurer. Then about an hour later the consultant called back with prices for the Padi diving course.The service I received from this agency was a little slow at first, but with the phone calls and the extra information I received, it was a strong finish.I am still receiving follow-up calls to see if I want to book.

Score:56%

Thomson
Unit 41, Kinsgate shopping centre, Huddersfield

When I entered I browsed the brochure racks, which I noticed were not well stocked. It took several minutes for an agent to approach me but when she did she was friendly and helpful. I explained my requirements and it was apparent that her knowledge was not good, although her colleague suggested Egypt. When I enquired about the diving course, she recommended I arrange it in the resort. I pushed for it to be included in the package and she explored a few operators and found me a holiday that included the dive package. I was given all the details and the price and was told that it was a great price and pushed to make a booking. The brochure used was Thomson Winter Sun.My experience was pleasant but slow, although it was spoilt by the fact that the agency had no relevant brochures to show me the accommodation. I was given a page ripped out of an old brochure

Score:63%

Tony Iredale Travel
10 Cross Church Street, Huddersfield

The outside looked a little bleak, however inside the brochure racks were well-stocked and there was music playing in the background. I browsed for a few minutes and was approached by a friendly consultant, who offered me a seat and asked my requirements. Her product knowledge was excellent and she recommended Sharm El Sheikh and the Maldives, if I wanted to spend a little more. The brochures she used were Cosmos, Hayes and Jarvis and Airtours.We explored all the options including the Padi dive package, however we did have to book this once we were in the resort.The information and advice I received in this agency was excellent; it was a pleasant experience and the most enjoyable of all the agencies I visited that day. The details of all the holidays found were given to me along with the brochures. We discussed insurance but the company it used could not insure us for the dive package.

Score:64%

TOP FIVE TIPS

Tip 1:Sharm El Sheikh, on Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera, is a popular winter sun destination, with a good range of hotels and excellent facilities for divers of all abilities

Tip 2:Other popular diving destinations on the Red Sea are Hurghada, Dahab, Marsa Alam and Taba. All are suitable for beginners.

Tip 3:The Padi Open Water is a five-day course and can be pre-booked with most operators.

Tip 4:Operators such as Kuoni, Hayes and Jarvis and Regaldive offer Padi courses in destinations worldwide, including the Maldives, Caribbean and Mexico.

Tip 5:Diving holidays can be found on gazetteers.com under special interest holidays. Enter diving in the search box to see a list of countries where this is available. 20 operators are listed under Egypt.

SUMMARY

This week’s request was for a winter-sun holiday where the customers could learn to dive.

The couple wanted to travel in February or March and wanted the holiday to include a Padi open-water beginners diving course.

The request was dealt with professionally in most agencies. One of the agencies offered the Maldives trying to up-sell the customer.

Overall, the agencies visited gave the information they needed to book a holiday.

 

Gazetteers.comAbout Gazetteers.com

Gazetteers.com, from DG&G Travel Information gives you a single website that means you need never fear being mystery shopped again! Gazetteers.com 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.com provides agents with all the product knowledge you need to meet and exceed customer expectations. Log on at www.gazetteers.com.

mystery shopper black thumbTo view more Mystery Shopper articles click here