Location: North Shields, Tyne and Wear
Shopping for: A trip to Dubai for a young family

The agencies

Thomson , 41 Bedford Street, North ShieldsThomson
41 Bedford Street, North Shields

Score: 74%

There were two agents in the shop. One was on the phone but offered to help when the call was over.

I asked whether it was a good idea to take kids to Dubai. The agent seemed negative about this idea, but after looking through the Thomson Tailormade brochure, she said there were more family-friendly hotels and more to do than she thought. She showed me several hotels. I said I would have a think about it.

She advised that the brochure just gave the hotel costs and, if I decided to book, I should call her and she would get a full quote. She gave me the Thomson Tailormade – Asia and Arabian Gulf brochure to take away.

The Co-operative Travel, 34 Bedford Street, North Shields The Co-operative Travel
34 Bedford Street, North Shields

Score: 79%

I was offered help as soon as I entered. I asked whether it would be worth taking my children to Dubai. The agent looked at gazetteers.com and ran through this information with me.

She offered to get prices for hotels with kids’ clubs and asked when I wanted to go and how many would be travelling. She found some prices and I remarked that it was expensive.

She said we could get a fortnight in a top hotel in Spain for less and also advised the Dubai heat might be too much for small children in August.

She offered me the Virgin Holidays – Dubai, First Choice Families and Thomson Family Collection brochures to take with me. The agent was competent and friendly.

Dawson and Sanderson, 14 Bedford Way, North ShieldsDawson and Sanderson
14 Bedford Way, North Shields

Score: 80%

Five agents were busy with clients when I entered. I was offered help after a minute.

The agent said Dubai was a good destination and several of the hotels had kids’ clubs. She offered me a brochure and asked for more details.She struggled to find availability on the system for a family of four in one room.

After some time I said I would have a look through the hotels in the brochure and come back when I was more sure of what I was looking for. She gave me the Gold Medal Dubai, Kuoni Tropical Sun and Tradewinds Worldwide brochures.

She said she would keep checking availability and call me with prices. The agent was pleasant, helpful and friendly.

The winner

Thomas Cook, 85 Bedford Street, North ShieldsThomas Cook
85 Bedford Street, North Shields

Score: 84%

There were three agents on the shop floor when I entered. Two were busy with customers and the third was at the printer.

The third agent approached me within 15 seconds and I asked her whether it was worth considering taking children to Dubai. She responded very positively, saying it was becoming more popular to take children to Dubai as there were now direct flights from Newcastle and there was a lot for them to do.

She asked if I would like to get some prices and began filling out a customer enquiry form. She then looked up some prices and gave me the Thomas Cook Signature brochure to show me the hotels. I said I would like to think about it and she then took my contact details. The agent was competent and helpful.


Resort Marketing International - Elite Island Resorts

Congratulations, Thomas Cook, North Shields. One of your agents will be staying at Sugar Bay Club, St Kitts, courtesy of Elite Island Resorts, after coming top in this week’s Mystery Shopper.

Every week for the next year the travel consultant who gets the highest Mystery Shopper score will win a seven-night stay for two people at an Elite Island Resorts property. Flights are not included.

Selling tips

Tip 1: Dubai can be reached via a seven-hour direct flight from the UK. It is close enough to avoid jet lag, which is ideal for young families.

Tip 2: Due to open this autumn, the Atlantis the Palm resort is set to open Dolphin Bay, home to 28 bottlenose dolphins in three lagoons. It will also have the largest water-themed attraction in the Middle East, with 65,000 fish and aquatic animals plus 2km of cascades, tidal waves and rapids.

Tip 3: Many hotels in Dubai cater for children. Jumeirah Beach Hotel and Le Royal Méridien Hotel and Resort both have kids’ clubs.

Tip 4: Attractions for children include Dubai Zoo in Jumeirah, which houses nine species of cat and regional birds of prey, and Magic Planet in Deira City Centre shopping mall, which offers 10-pin bowling and pitch and putt.

Tip 5: Suggest seeing ‘Jumana – Secret of the Desert’, an open-air stage show, celebrating Arabia’s culture and history using sound, laser, water effects and fireworks. The cast consists of dancers, acrobats, camels and horses.

Mystery Shopper scoring system

  • 60% Advice and product knowledge
  • 12% Customer service
  • 8% External/internal appearance
  • 7% Welcome
  • 7% Farewell
  • 6% Staff presentation