The brief: A daughter is shopping on behalf of her parents, who are looking to travel to the Greek island for a bit of late summer sun. They would like to stay in a romantic hotel and have a budget of £2,000. They want to experience a bit of culture and enjoy good food.
The verdict: There is plenty of product available and all the agents managed to make suggestions, but customer service and product knowledge were key in determining the highest scores. Travelwise lost a vital 15 points on appearance, which would have had it snapping at The Co-operative Travel’s heels.
44 The Grove
The shop was very hot, looked dark and dingy, and the carpet needed a vacuum. The posters were very busy, the staff casual looking and there were drink bottles on their desks.
The consultant politely greeted me as soon as I entered. She asked about budget and destination, but didn’t really probe.
When she was searching for a suitable holiday, she needed input from a colleague, which was minimal, and she appeared a bit out of her depth. The quote was for £1,442 with Thomas Cook Adult Escapes, at the Antinea Suites & Spa Hotel.
There was no mention of upgrades, car parking or things to do on the island, the consultant seemed to focus purely on the hotel. The visit was short and I was not asked for extra details. Despite this, the staff were friendly.
The Co-operative Travel
2-3 Railway Road
I had to wait 10 minutes to be seen as one agent was at the bureau de change and the other consultant was on the phone.
When I was served, the consultant seemed slightly harassed and didn’t make much eye contact, although she was helpful. There was pop music in the background, which was distracting.
She was thorough in her questioning and used her computer system well. She got two brochures and found appropriate hotels quickly, talking through the hotel facilities, in-flight meals and extras.
However, she didn’t tell me about the destination. She recommended the Santorini Kastelli Resort costing £1,948 with Thomas Cook. This consultant would have scored more for the agency if her communication skills were better, it felt strained at times as if she was distracted.
4 Brook Street
The consultant greeted me immediately. She was professional and friendly and the shop was well laid out, although a little overcrowded with posters.
She was quite thorough and did make small talk, such as asking which anniversary it was. However, she would have scored more if she had asked what my parents’ interests were. She was confident, professional and searched efficiently on her system.
She kept to the budget, but didn’t encourage me to spend more. She offered an upgrade, which was still under budget. She gave me a brochure and a quote for £1,614 at Tamarix del Mare through Thomas Cook.
She asked about travel insurance. She didn’t push to close the sale, but she did say I could book over the phone.
38 The Grove
The customer service at this branch was superb. The shop was light and airy. The staff looked very professional and there was a friendly atmosphere. The consultant greeted me straight away and asked what I wanted from the holiday. The consultant made the conversation flow and put me at ease.
She appeared well informed, giving me feedback about her suggested hotels from other customers and letting me read what was on the computer screen, which made me feel involved. When I chose the hotel, she encouraged me to view extra photos of it to ensure I was happy.
She didn’t go over budget, asked about my parents and what they enjoyed doing. The quote was £1,388 for bed and breakfast at the Afroditi Venus Beach Hotel, plus £210 for an upgrade to half board. She gave me a printout and said I could ring back to book. She also gave me her business card and a brochure.
Tips: Selling Santorini
- Santorini is one of the 56 Cyclades Islands, making up part of Greece.
- Santorini is a popular cruise destination. Louis Cruises, Costa Cruises and MSC Cruises all stop at Santorini port. Arriving by boat into the capital Fira gives stunning views.
- There are direct charter flights from London and regional airports. Avro offers weekly flights between May and October from Gatwick and Manch-ester. Alternatively, it is a 45-minute flight from Athens or four to five-hour hydrofoil journey.
- The old town of the capital Fira is made up of steep, narrow, cobbled streets of shops, tavernas, blue-domed churches, and plenty of lanes for its visitors to stroll around. There are steep steps down to the harbour. Less mobile visitors can take a cable car.
- For more information on hotels in Santorini, go to www.gazetteers.com.
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