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 ?
Lancaster, LancashireA twin-centre holiday to Tel Aviv and the Red Sea for a couple

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.

Thomas Cook
40 Penny Street, Lancaster

Thomas Cook, 40 Penny Street, LancasterI was greeted as soon as I entered the shop. The consultant asked what I was looking for and she called Cadogan to check availability. They said my twin-centre request was impossible due to visa problems and recent troubles in the area. I asked if the consultant could find out prices for scuba diving and she said she would call me later.


When the agent called she said I would have to take two separate holidays and I could not travel directly from one to the other.


My requests were not met and I left disappointed. The shop was a little shabby and some of the other staff looked a bit solemn.


Score:30%

Thomson
31 Market Street, Lancaster

Thomson, 31 Market Street, Lancaster I was greeted with a happy smile and invited to take a seat.


I explained my scenario and the consultant checked viewdata for availability. She advised me that the tour operators Thomson can use don’t feature Tel Aviv. After talking to colleagues and checking the system the consultant admitted defeat and said she would not be able to find a trip to Tel Aviv.


She offered to check costs for Sharm el-Sheikh instead and I was offered a good deal including discounts and insurance. She also gave me information on scuba diving as I had requested.


This consultant did very well in difficult circumstances. She persevered and I went away with some useful information.


Score:49%

Co-op Travel
11 Ashton Walk, St Nicholas Arcades, Lancaster

Co-op Travel, 11 Ashton Walk, St Nicholas Arcades, LancasterWhen I entered the shop, the consultant stood up to greet me and invited me to her desk.


When I explained my scenario she immediately said it was a tricky request. After taking all my details the agent checked the Cadogan brochure and called to check availability.


She said in order to spend a week in each place I would have to fly back to the UK in between.


As this option was unsuitable the consultant advised a tailor-made package. She was unable to put it together at the time and called me back later that day.


The consultant was polite and professional and she showed good knowledge of the destination (especially in terms of the political situation), although the options I was offered did not really fit the bill.


Score:55%

WINNER: The Discount Traveller
10 Sir Simon’s Arcade, Lancaster

The Discount Traveller, 10 Sir Simon’s Arcade, LancasterAs I approached this agency I was pleased to notice the window display advertising European and worldwide holidays really stood out. I was immediately acknowledged by the consultant, who dropped everything to greet me.


After a discussion about my holiday the consultant picked up some brochures from well-stocked racks. As I looked at the brochures the agent checked flight availability and printed lots of detailed information. She really went out of her way to ensure I had all information I needed.


The manager also offered assistance and provided a great insight into the attractions of Israel using personal experience and recommendations.


Overall I received very friendly and enthusiastic service and I would definitely book a holiday here.


Score:87%

TOP FIVE TIPS

Tip 1:Some agencies couldn’t offer Tel Aviv. Offering an alternative twin-centre break or excursion to the Egyptian city of Cairo with its wealth of historic attractions including the Pyramids, the Sphinx and the Cairo Museum could have sealed the booking.


Tip 2:Check Gazetteers.com for tour operators which offer unusual destinations such as Tel Aviv. Cadogan Holidays and Superstar Holidays are both listed on the site as offering the city.


Tip 3:Check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website for up-to-date travel advice on all destinations.


Tip 4:This is perfect dynamic packaging territory for agents who are covered by a bond. Ixco.com offers Tel Aviv, while companies such as Youtravel.com and Somewhere2stay.com offer Sharm el-Sheikh.


Tip 5:For health reasons you can’t fly within 24 hours of diving, so take this into consideration when you book the flights. See next week’s edition of Travel Weekly for our Israel feature.

SUMMARY

Mystery Shopper had a tough request for agents in Lancashire this week.


She was looking for a twin-centre holiday in Tel Aviv and the Red Sea for a couple, with a week in each.


They wanted somewhere central in Tel Aviv and would like to stay in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, where they wanted to learn to dive.


Agents who were unable to offer an exact match should have suggested an alternative twin-centre break that included a learn-to-dive package.


 


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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