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Mystery Shopper: Peterborough, Cambridgeshire – 11 Jan 2007

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 ?
Peterborough, Cambridgeshire A two-week family holiday island hopping in Greece

RULES
Each week, Mystery Shopper calls on agents across the UK. Shops are judged on six criteria:

Internal/external appearance (25%)
Sales technique (25%)
Availability checked (10%)
Product knowledge (20%)
Details explained (10%)
Request matched (10%)

Please note, no additional information will be given about Mystery Shopper’s visits.

Thomson, Queensgate Centre, PeterboroughThomson
Unit 56, Queensgate Centre, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

A trainee consultant approached me immediately and referred me to a colleague who suggested booking transport and accommodation separately. She suggested Zante, Cephalonia and Corfu, which allowed for less time on ferries; checked flight availability and accommodation and said I could avoid booking fees if I booked direct on the Internet. She gave me a quote for car hire and insurance but these did not include the ferry transfer which could only be booked in resort. She gave me a Thomson brochure in case I decided to go for a package holiday. Overall, this agent didn’t seem to mind whether I booked direct or in the store.

Score:58%

Going Places, 42 Westgate, PeterboroughGoing Places
42 Westgate, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

The consultant – who had approached me straight away –seemed unsure of my request but took my details. She phoned Airtours, which offered neither island hopping nor twin centres in Greece. The agent then called Manos and pointed out suitable areas and accommodation, recommending a twin centre at Lefkas and Parga. This option was more expensive than those offered by the other agencies but it did fit in with my request. The agent advised me on the law deposit scheme and insurance costs, and gave me a discount valid until the end of the day. I would have been happier booking with this agent if she had asked her colleagues about other suitable operators. She did, however, call me later to offer further

Score:66%

Travelcare, Park Road, PeterboroughTravelcare
Westgate House, Park Road, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

I was served immediately by a consultant who initially seemed confused by my request and asked her manager for advice. The manager said island hopping wasn’t really suitable for children and that I should book directly via the Internet. She prompted the manager to look in Libra, Thomas Cook and Olympic brochures, then while on hold to Thomas Cook, advised me to do some shopping and she would call me back on my mobile. She gave me quotes on insurance and searched the brochure, recommending Lefkas and Parga, since the whole family could stay in one room there. The consultant called me within 20 minutes and I returned to the store to pick up the details. The option she gave me was the best value for money out of all the agents I visited. She handed me a business card and advised me to book over the phone – the company did not charge a credit card fee. After her initial confusion, this agent made a huge effort to find a suitable holiday.

Score:67%

WINNER ?
Thomas Cook, 63 Queensgate, PeterboroughThomas Cook
63 Queensgate, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

All the consultants were busy, so I waited 10 minutes then decided to come back later. When I returned, a consultant greeted me, but laughed at my request, saying it was too difficult for her as a trainee. She passed me on to a colleague who offered to supervise the trainee while she handled my enquiry but the trainee declined, which put me off straight away. However, the new consultant seemed knowledgeable and restored my faith. She said my request was specialised and phoned Thomas Cook to be told the prices weren’t out until next week. She used the Libra brochure then settled on Olympic, advising a twin centre would be better for the children. While waiting on the phone she recommended car hire and insurance and quoted me prices from viewdata. Car parking and other extras were suggested in a print-out. The agent recommended Kos and Rhodes as a twin centre and found accommodation to suit me. She gave me a brochure and print-out, then offered to call in a couple of days once I had spoken to my partner. I would have been happy to book but I felt the trainee let the agency down by not making the effort to learn.

Score:79%

TOP FIVE TIPS

Tip 1:Olympic, Kosmar, Sunvil and Manos all offer a good choice of twin centre Greek island holidays. Combinations include Corfu/Paxos; Skiathos/Skopelos; Rhodes/Symi and Cephalonia/Ithaca.

Tip 2:Thomas Cook offers a three-centre island- hopping holiday which includes Santorini, Paros and Naxos. They also offer twin-centres combining Santorini with Ios or Mykonos.

Tip 3:Rhodes and Kos could be a good choice for families with young children, as many of the hotels on these islands have impressive children’s facilities. The ferry journey between the islands is about two hours. Thomas Cook and Olympic both offer this combination.

Tip 4:Although Lefkas and Parga is a popular twin-centre combination, Parga is actually a town on the mainland of Greece.

Tip 5:Details of multi-centre holidays can be found on gazetteers.com under the ‘tour operators’ tab on the left-hand side of the resort page.

SUMMARY

This week Mystery Shopper wanted a two-week holiday to Greece with two young children, around November 30. Mystery Shopper wanted to recreate the island-hopping experience of a previous backpacking trip, with as little time as possible spent on ferries. Mystery Shopper did n’t want to rough it too much and ideally the holiday would take in two or three islands. Overall the service was good. The request was a little different from a ‘normal’ family holiday and some agents were a little apprehensive at first but most got to grips with the request and offered a suitable 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.comprovides agents with all the product knowledge you need to meet and exceed customer expectations. Log on at Gazetteers.com.

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