Mystery Shopper: Cardiff, Glamorgan – 6 Jun 2007

Travel Weekly’s Mystery Shopper in association with Each week, Mystery Shopper calls on travel agents across the UK to check agency appearance, brochure racking, product knowledge…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     

Cardiff, GlamorganA stopover in the Middle East on the way to Australia

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, 8 Queen Street, CardiffThomson
8 Queen Street, Cardiff

I was approached almost immediately and an agent asked if she could help. I explained that I was looking for flights to Australia, stopping off in Dubai. She said that the saleswoman I needed to speak to wasn’t in that day but would be in the next day. I asked if I could talk to anyone else and she told me I needed to see another one of her colleagues, who wasn’t in, and gave me her card.

The agent didn’t even attempt to help me even though there was a Dubai brochure on the shelf, which she could have used. I wouldn’t recommend this store as the saleswoman was thoroughly unhelpful.

Score: 40%

First Choice, Ferry Road, CardiffFirst Choice
Ferry Road, Cardiff

All four staff were serving customers so I didn’t receive any kind of greeting. I had been browsing for 10 minutes when one of the agents offered help. She was friendly and asked a lot of questions.

She was honest about the building work in Dubai and said you couldn’t avoid some disruption. She said she could suggest some alternative places but she also made a phone call to see if there was anywhere on the coast that wouldn’t be affected by building work.

The saleswoman was helpful, friendly and made an effort to chat. She went out of her way to find a hotel on the seafront where we wouldn’t see any of the construction work. She said that the shopping was great in Dubai and said there were lots of amazing places to see. She gave me a printed quote for the flight and accommodation and said to call back any time.

Score: 76%

Going Places, 37 Queen Street, CardiffGoing Places
37 Queen Street, Cardiff

I was greeted in a pleasant and friendly manner. The agent asked a lot of questions. She looked at availability and prices and found a great hotel at a reasonable price in Dubai. She also found an excellent price for flights.

I asked about building work and she said there was a lot of it in the area. With this in mind she selected a quieter resort, which a colleague had been to and recommended. I said I needed to check with my husband, so she held the booking and gave me a print out of the details discussed.

She highlighted her name and direct number and said if I wanted to hold the flights and accommodation for another day, I just needed to call her. I would recommend this store.


Thomas Cook, 16 Queen Street, CardiffThomas Cook
16 Queen Street, Cardiff

A saleswoman greeted me and asked if she could help. She asked a lot of questions about the people travelling, dates, accommodation, insurance, airport parking and she told me about travel visas for Australia and offered an overnight stay at Heathrow or Gatwick.

She also mentioned the agency’s bureau de change and good commission rates. She made it clear they could offer the whole package. She found flight details very quickly and didn’t need to phone anyone. Once the details were finalised she asked me if I wanted to book. She said there would be no problem when I said I needed to check with my husband. She took my contact details and was very helpful.

She looked at overnight parking options and hotels and gave a clear idea of prices. She agreed there was building work in Dubai and found a quieter, but more expensive, hotel. She gave me printed details of the enquiry as well as her business card. I would recommend this agency as I received prompt and excellent service.



Tip 1: Talk to the experts. Don’t be vague; look at the brochures, see which hotels they like, then call the operator and find out about building work nearby. The tourist office will be able to tell you where most of it is concentrated.

Tip 2: Be honest. Don’t pull your punches – they won’t enjoy their holiday if you gloss over the facts.

Tip 3: Don’t put people off. Remember Dubai’s main attractions are indoors – in air-conditioned splendour. If they’re spending all their time shopping, indoor skiing and eating in fancy restaurants, they won’t notice what’s happening outside.

Tip 4: Take time to consider the alternatives. There are plenty of other stopover options –consider Abu Dhabi, Oman or Qatar in the Middle East; or Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore in Asia.

Tip 5: If you’re not an expert in this area but a colleague is, say so. Take full details of the client’s request and tell them someone will call them back – let them know when to expect a call and from whom.


This week Mystery Shopper wanted to break up a long journey to Australia with a stopover in the Middle East.

Mystery Shopper had heard a lot about Dubai but was concerned about building work. Mystery Shopper wanted to find out if it was as bad as she thought and if she should consider somewhere else.

Three agencies were very helpful and went out of their way to find a hotel that wasn’t near a building site. The lowest-scoring agent said only a colleague of hers could help Mystery Shopper, but she wasn’t in. She made no attempt to help herself.


Gazetteers.comAbout, from DG& G Travel Information gives you a single website that means you need never fear being mystery shopped again! 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

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