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Mystery Shopper: Plymouth, Devon – 18 Jan 2007

Travel Weekly’s Mystery Shopper calls on travel agents across the UK each week to check presentation, attitude and service.

Travel Weekly’s Mystery Shopper in association with Gazetteers.com.     

THE TARGET ?WANTED ?
Plymouth, DevonA trip to the Amalfi coast in July, with water sports

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.

Travelcare, Plymouth, Devon Travelcare
Co-op House, Derry’s Cross, Plymouth, Devon

On entering the agency there were two consultants available. I was not acknowledged so browsed the brochures for several minutes.One eventually asked me to take a seat, and although she was very pleasant when discussing my needs I had to prompt her again to find resorts with water sports when she began her computer search.

She suggested the resort of Sant Agnello for its beach area, and found me a hotel with Airtours, but I had to make do with a photocopied page from the lone office copy of the Airtours Italy brochure. There the effort ended – with no attempt to suggest alternatives or sell extras.

Score:42%

First Choice, Plymouth, Devon First Choice
64 New George Street, Plymouth, Devon

I browsed the well-stocked brochure racks while the consultants in this busy agency served clients. After a few minutes I was approached by a receptionist who noted my requirements and took me to a consultant. I went through the details again and while she looked on her computer, she asked a trainee to fetch the First Choice Sunstart brochure 2007.

The consultant came up with two options for me, though neither really seemed to offer water sports. When I mentioned it I was advised to go out on boat trips. However, she did try a really hard sell on travel insurance.I left with my brochure and the details she had found – but still didn’t know about water sports.

Score:49%

Harvey World Travel, Plymouth, Devon Harvey World Travel
17 Old Town Street, Plymouth, Devon

I entered the agency and was welcomed by a receptionist who asked me my requirements. After explaining what I was looking she took me to one of her colleagues who was a bright and lively girl. My consultant quickly ascertained my needs and began her search. She was particularly keen to find me a hotel with a family room or adjoining rooms and made an effort to look into self-catering options, which eventually worked out to be quite expensive.

We discussed the water sports facilities at each resort she suggested and said we could consider hiring a boat and then swim and dive from that.I was given the details of the holidays she had found along with the brochures; she also offered me car hire prices, personal insurance and airport car parking – a good, all-round performance although she didn’t go into huge amounts of detail. However, I left the agency with my information feeling that I had been given enough to make a decision.

Score:62%

Thomas Cook, Plymouth, Devon Thomas Cook
9 Old Town Street, Plymouth, Devon

I perused the brochures for a while before being approached by my consultant.We sat down and began discussing my holiday needs. It appeared she was really interested in my holiday and consulted some of her colleagues about water sports facilities in this area. She then went to fetch the Thomson Destinations 2007 and Kuoni Italy brochures. We went through both brochures together and a number of hotels were highlighted as we worked through. She also looked at a map of the Amalfi coastline and pointed out the diving jetties to me.

She telephoned Kuoni for availability and ensured that the chosen accommodation was in the correct area for us to enjoy the water sports facilities. The consultant also recommended car hire for a few days so we could explore the surrounding area, as she said it was a beautiful coast with lots of different areas to visit. She gave me details of hotels and costs along with travel insurance.The consultant was helpful throughout and showed she had real experience in her job. Nothing was too much trouble. Excellent.

Score:80%

TOP FIVE TIPS

Tip 1:Lying on the southern side of the Sorrento peninsula overlooking the Gulf of Salerno, the Amalfi coast is possibly Italy’s most scenic and dramatic stretch of coastline.

Tip 2:The largest resort is Amalfi itself, which retains a strong Italian character. Maiori has the best beach, and is a good choice for families. Other resorts include Positano, Praiano, Minori and Ravello.

Tip 3:Citalia, Kuoni and Thomson all offer a good range of hotels here. Several upmarket hotels are also offered by smaller operators such as Cadogan, Carrier and Elegant Resorts.

Tip 4:Windsurfing and waterskiing are popular, especially on Maiori’s beach. There are also a number of dive centres in the area.

Tip 5:Entering ‘Amalfi coast’ into the search box on gazetteers.com will produce details of hotels and holidays in eight resorts in this area.

SUMMARY

Mystery Shopper was in search of a family holiday on Italy’s Amalfi coast. Top of the list of requirements was a resort that would cater for youngsters interested in water sports.Most of the agents visited embraced the request and did seem to know where to find the information.

Some agents did a little more work than others in suggesting resorts and hotels. The water sports request was not really matched, but suggestions were made about hiring a boat or going on trips.A couple of the agencies had a ‘greeter’, who directed Mystery Shopper to the consultant with the best destination knowledge.

 

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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