Brief: A couple would like to visit Seville in Spain in October. They want to stay close to the sights, and want a comfortable rather than plush hotel. Can they fly from Bristol or Exeter?
Budget: £750 for both.
Verdict: Effort and attitude made the winning agent’s performance stand head and shoulders above the others’ more laissez-faire approach
Dave Criddle Travel
12 The Bridge
The agent here made a real effort to help me, however she was unable to access the Cresta website, and when she tried to call them could get no reply.
She found me the two-star Hotel Murillo with Superbreak for £388 for three nights, and made sure it was central. Local flights with Ryanair flights were £200, but she told me they weren’t part of a package and so wouldn’t be bonded, and recommended I pay by credit card.
During the whole discussion I was really put off by the agent’s colleagues, who were eating lunch, discussing moisturisers and checking Facebook. I felt like I was sitting in their staff room rather than an agency.
Miles Morgan Travel
28 Old Market Centre
This agent was able to find suitable accommodation, but could only offer Iberia flights from London.
She went straight to Cresta and didn’t look at any other options, but offered two hotels through the operator: the three-star Hotel Vime Corregidor for £730 and the four-star Hotel San Gil for £760.
She suggested the three-star was in a better location. This agent was efficient but unenthusiastic and only offered very general comments on Seville, about which she seemed to have little knowledge.
She gave me printed details of the offers, but didn’t really try to encourage me to buy the holiday, add extras or take my details to follow up on my visit.
20 Fore Street
This agent also offered the Hotel Vime Corregidor and the Hotel San Gil with Cresta, for the same prices as the previous shop. She explained that although Ryanair might fly locally, she wasn’t allowed to book the airline as it was said to be unreliable and often cancelled flights.
I liked this agent and we discussed Spain and city breaks in general, but I was disappointed that she referred to only one brochure.
She didn’t try to close the sale, but she did mention that if local flights were important to me she could recommend other city break locations. She marked those with Bristol flights in the brochure I was given to take home.
13-14 North Street
This young agent was very impressive. We looked at a range of hotels and discussed my needs, and through Superbreak she found an excellent hotel in a central location exactly on budget – the Patio de la Alameda Apartments, which she could offer me with flights from London for £750.
She tried to find local flights and explored other options such as Cardiff and Birmingham. She also said I could look at Ryanair flights though she was unable to deal with them herself, and she would be happy to book the rest of my holiday.
When her IT system failed she knew exactly who to call to get the right information, and researched airport parking, transfer and insurance options, adding them on to make a quote of £780.
At the end of our consultation she gave me a printed quote with her name on, making it clear I could phone in and she would book it for me straight away.
Winning agent: Charlotte Wanliss, apprentice travel adviser
“I’m 19 and started as an apprentice with Thomson in July last year after studying for an A-level in travel and tourism. I didn’t know much about Seville, so it was about applying what I’d learnt in training and finding out what the customer wanted.”
Top tips: Selling Seville
- Seville is the capital of the Andalusia region and is packed with Moorish heritage sights such as the Alcazar Palace. It’s also renowned for its buzzing nightlife.
- Sell clients a tour so they get the most from the city. Attraction World has a full-day option including lunch for £79, and Cresta has a coach tour for £42 and a walking tour for £20.
- The flight choice to Seville isn’t wide, but Malaga airport is better served from the UK and could provide an alternative. High-speed Renfe trains run between Malaga and Seville in less than two hours.
- Try upselling clients into an escorted tour of the Andalusia region, so they could visit the equally beautiful cities of Cordoba and Granada, with its famous Alhambra Palace.
- Read this week’s Spain feature to find out more about attractions in Seville and Andalusia
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