Mystery Shopper: Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

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     

Cheltenham, GloucestershireA family cruise in the Mediterranean

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.

Travelbag, CheltenhamTravelbag
10-12 Pittville Street, Cheltenham

It was a shame the neat and tidy appearance of the shop windows didn’t match the appearance and service of the staff in the shop.There was no pleasant welcome and the staff member did not even smile when she saw me.

Unbelievably she made no effort to help me when I made my enquiry and told me to go to Thomas Cook as they did not have any brochures. When I insisted on speaking to someone else she was very reluctant to call over her colleague, who also told me to go to Thomas Cook.

The store was not very customer friendly, with no seating area and the consultants’ manner was far from pleasant. I would not recommend this store to others and would not use this agency again.


Thomson, CheltenhamThomson
212 High Street, Cheltenham

The windows clearly displayed special offers and I was acknowledged by all three staff as I walked in.

One of them offered to help and asked a what sort of holiday I wanted, how many people were going, if there were children and where I wanted to cruise. She then gave me a Thomson cruise brochure, but did not offer to go through it with me or suggest which ships or cruiselines would be most suitable for my family.

The agent didn’t give me any idea of cost or offer to do a quote. She simply said the prices were in the brochure. I was impressed with the friendliness of the staff, but they seemed to have little time to spare to really help me.

This store was let down heavily by lack of advice and product knowledge. Its customer care needs to be reviewed.


Worlds Apart, CheltenhamWorlds Apart Travel
15 Clarence Parade, Cheltenham

Offers were neatly displayed in the windows and I was acknowledged immediately by an employee as soon as I walked in.

When I told her what I was looking for she said she was unable to help me but offered to take my details so a colleague could call me back later. The desk was covered in paperwork, but the agent made some attempt to tidy up when she invited me to sit down.

She was friendly and polite throughout the enquiry but could have scored more highly if she had offered to give me some brochures or leaflets. She could have attempted to find out exactly what I was looking for so her colleague could contact me with some firm quotes and ideas, rather than call to find out what I wanted.


Co-operative Travel, CheltenhamMidcounties Co-op Travel
204 High Street, Cheltenham

After looking at the brochures for a short while I was approached by one of the agents who offered to help.

She asked questions to ascertain what sort of holiday I was interested in and picked up a brochure to illustrate what she was saying. She tried to log on to the computer to give me some idea of costs, but the system was down.

She rang a cruise operator who told her their computer was also down so she promised to ring me later to give me an idea of price. She took my details and gave me an Ocean Village brochure and her card.

She was pleasant, friendly and took plenty of time to help me. She made sure I was happy with the information she gave me. Despite being faced with computer problems the agent did her best to help with my enquiry. I would feel happy to return to this shop and book a holiday.



by Association of Cruise Experts director of business development Andy Harmer

Tip 1: Know your product. Kids’ facilities vary greatly, even between ships owned by the same cruise brand. Some facilities may not be available at off-peak times.

Tip 2: Every family is different. Make sure you ask lots of questions about the children’s ages and interests to ensure a ship’s facilities are appropriate. While some children will love the kids’ clubs and organised activities, others will not be so ready to join in.

Tip 3: Ensure the client knows what is included in the price. All-inclusive ships are a selling point as they make it easier for families to keep tabs on their budget. Explain which activities and services are included, and demonstrate how many of these would not be included in a land-based holiday.

Tip 4: Suggest a cruise-and-stay holiday. This option is popular with families as it allows them to spice up traditional bucket-and-spade holidays. The addition of the cruise experience offers kids more activities and a wealth of destinations to explore.

Tip 5:Don’t forget to explain what’s in it for mum and dad.


Mystery Shopper was looking for a family cruise in the Mediterranean.

The family are first-time cruisers and are looking for a cruise-and-stay package. The children are 12 and 14.

The lowest-scoring agency’s customer service left a lot to be desired. The others offered good service but some lacked product knowledge.

The winning agent devoted a lot of time to Mystery Shopper, and provided plenty of details, despite her computer system being unavailable.


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