Travel Weekly's Mystery Shopper - in association with Gazetteers.com - calls on travel agents across the UK each week to check agency appearance, brochure racking, product knowledge, sales technique and staff attitudeTravel 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 ▼
Caerphilly, Mid GlamorganA trip to Mexico for a group of friends in September

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.

Morgan Travel
2-4 St Fagans Street, Caerphilly

Outside, this agency was drab and inside it was depressing, not giving off the sense of holiday excitement. As I entered I was not acknowledged – the two staff members raised their eyebrows at me and carried on with their work.

I approached one of the consultants and explained what I was looking for. She checked on her computer and looked for availability.

She struggled to find me something and advised me to come back when I had a date to travel, I found this surprising as I had said I could travel any time in September.I left this agency feeling very dissatisfied.

Score: 34%

Travelcare
42 Cardiff Road, Caerphilly

Both the external and internal appearance of this agency was average, and I found the staff uniform dowdy, although it did look smart.

The consultant who dealt with my enquiry had a warm personality and when I explained my request to her she seemed interested to help me.We discussed my needs and she had a good knowledge of the destination.

One of the consultant’s colleagues also got involved in the enquiry and she was helpful and friendly.I was given the information I needed to make a decision on what to book, and it was given to me in friendly manner. I didn’t feel pressured into making a booking at any time.

Score:70%

Thomson
50 Cardiff Road, Caerphilly

The external and internal appearance of this agency was very good; it looked fresh and welcoming. And the same went for the staff, who were well presented and friendly.

The consultant’s sales technique was good, without being too forceful. I was provided with all the information I required with attention to detail being paid to the accommodation. The consultant was keen to ensure she found the right holiday for me and she kept checking with me that all the details she had given were to my satisfaction.

The only downside to the call was that when I mentioned travelling on to Mexico City after the main part of the holiday.  I was not offered any details of how to get there or an idea of how much it might cost and was put off the idea by the consultant.

Overall, the call was successful and I was dealt with in a professional manner by a pleasant agent.

Score:75%

Going Places
51 Cardiff Road, Caerphilly

This agency was bright and appealing outside, and as I entered, the same could be said of the internal aspects. The staff were dressed in bright, smart uniforms that matched the holiday mood.

The consultant who dealt with my enquiry was friendly and enthusiastic. We discussed in detail the type of holiday I was looking for and she was excited about the challenge. Her knowledge of the destination was excellent and she offered me various hotels and resorts. We also discussed excursions I could take to see different Mayan ruins.

She went into detail about booking aircraft seats with extra legroom, which would be useful on a long flight.Without forcing a sale on me, her manner made me want to book the holiday. Her personality shone through and she came across as a good travel agent who loves her job.

Score:83%

TOP FIVE TIPS

Tip 1:Remember September is hurricane season. Although the risks are relatively low, travellers should always have adequate insurance – and make sure they have a policy that covers extreme weather.

Tip 2:If your customers are looking to combine beach with culture, suggest they head to the Yucatan Peninsula. Cancun is lively, but Playa del Carmen is quieter and offers good access to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, Coba and Tulum. Also suggest an add-on to Cozumel for divers.

Tip 3:Tour operators such as Explore or Exodus offer escorted group trips into the heart of Mexico to states such as Chiapas. These tours are ideal for friends looking get off the beaten track.

Tip 4:Visitors should research, respect and observe the local customs and privacy of Mayan communities. For example, photography can be prohibited.

Tip 5:First impressions count. If your shop is drab and uninspired, you’re already fighting a losing battle. Brighten up your agency with some posters and exciting decor.

SUMMARY

This week Mystery Shopper was looking for a trip to Mexico for a group of friends in September.

They wanted to explore the Latin American culture and Mayan civilisation. The request seemed to flummox some agents, some didn’t listen to the details properly and one actually put Mystery Shopper off the original plans.

But the winning agency came out top thanks to her enthusiasm for her work and her good knowledge of the destination.

 

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.

mystery shopper black thumbTo view more Mystery Shopper articles click here