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Mystery Shopper in Basildon, Essex – 30 Nov 2006

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 ?
Basildon, EssexA budget beach holiday to Asia

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.

Thomson, Basildon, EssexThomson
48 East Walk, Basildon

The agent who approached me handed over the Thomson Tailor-Made Asia and Arabian Gulf brochure, and told me to come back when I’d chosen which hotel I wanted. At this point I tried to ask her for some advice on some of the destinations I was interested in, but she said she was only a trainee, and referred me to her colleague on the currency desk.I asked this consultant for her views on some specific places and, although the shop was not busy, she also told me to come back when I had looked through the brochure. At this point I gave up and left the shop.

Score:21%

Going Places, Basildon, EssexGoing Places
Unit 42, Eastgate Centre, Basildon

Although this shop was quiet, neither of the available consultants approached me.When I made my way over to one of them, she said they were waiting for new stocks of brochures and that I should come back another day.I tried to engage her in conversation by asking about the destinations, booking, and best times to go, but she didn’t seem to be interested in helping me. I then spoke to her colleague who told me a little about Thailand and added that Malaysia was much more expensive. The consultants told me to return when they had received new brochures, but failed to ask for my details that they would need to contact me when the time came.

Score:26%

First Choice, Basildon, EssexFirst Choice
Unit 7, Westgate Retail Park, Southernhay, Fodderwick, Basildon

A friendly and pleasant consultant approached me almost as soon as I entered this shop.Narrowing my request down to Malaysia or Thailand, she then went to the brochures and picked out Thomson Thailand and Hayes and Jarvis Far East for me, letting me know why these brochures were best because of the areas and prices they featured.Like the agents in the previous two shops, she said the best thing to do was to have a look at the brochures and come back with exact locations, adding that they were also open on Sundays.While getting a compliment slip (she did not have any business cards) she engaged a colleague in the conversation who said that while Thailand was the cheaper option, Malaysia had plenty of cultural attractions.Again, it was relatively quiet in the store with only a few people picking up brochures and making enquiries.

Score:47%

WINNER ?
Travelcare, Basildon, EssexTravelcare
38 Eastwalk, Basildon

On entering the shop, which was quiet at the time I visited, an agent approached me and was very pleasant and friendly.When I told her where I would like to go, her colleague came over to help, and suggested the Kuoni Worldwide brochure, which she believed to be very comprehensive, even giving details of temperatures. The consultant was knowledgable and recommended lots of places to visit. She was particularly enthusiastic about Malaysia and made it sound like an exciting destination.She also spoke about Thailand, in particular Phuket, and talked about the beaches.The consultants, both of whom I found to be extremely helpful, advised that I come back with my travelling partner so that they could continue the enquiry and begin tailor-making the holiday to suit both of us.

Score:64%

TOP FIVE TIPS

Tip 1:The island of Bali in Indonesia offers a variety of good beach resorts that are different in character; some, such as Kuta, offer a wide choice of budget accommodation.

Tip 2:The inland town of Ubud is considered the cultural centre of Bali; a few nights here can be combined with a beach resort.

Tip 3:Combine a beach holiday with a few days in a city. Bangkok offers a blend of old and new Oriental culture, with markets, palaces and temples.

Tip 4:The beach resorts of Pattaya and Phuket both offer plenty of mid-range accommodation, though Phuket would be better for a first-time visitor.

Tip 5:This request provides a good opportunity to sell your client excursions at the time of booking.

SUMMARY

This week’s request was for a trip to Asia for two friends who had never been there before and were looking for advice. They wanted a beach holiday with some cultural options, and – although restricted by a low budget – wanted to stay inhotels rather than hostels.Some of the agencies were a little baffled by Mystery Shopper’s enquiry and only two showed a real interest. The winning agent was knowledgable of the area and made several goodsuggestions on different places to visit as well as travel advice and information ontemperatures.

 

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.

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