Mystery Shopper: Manchester, an escorted tour in Latin America in 2020

Location: Manchester
Wanted: A mature couple would like an escorted tour in Latin America next year. They would like to explore Peru, visiting places such as Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu, along with other highlights for first-time visitors. They’re flexible with dates and would like to know the best time to visit so that it’s not too hot. They would like information about the benefits of escorted tours. They think that a two-week holiday would suit them best.
Budget: £7,000


The shopper was very impressed with the service and knowledge of the friendly Kuoni agent, even though the quote was below budget. The service from the Trailfinders agent was also enthusiastic and persuasive but the quote was only an estimated amount. The service in Kanoo Travel was disappointing but the agent redeemed themselves with the emailed quotation.

Winning agent

Rea Hattersley, personal travel expert

“Peru is quite popular but we don’t get enquiries about it every week – it sometimes depends if something about Peru has been on the TV. I have not been there but my manager has visited and shared his knowledge with us. I have been a travel agent for two years and have only worked here.”


King Street

Impression: The shop was spacious, warm and comfortable, with smartly dressed staff.

Service: I was greeted warmly and courteously, then introduced to a colleague who had more knowledge about Peru. After talking about my budget and wish-list, the agent searched online for the best deals. They were very knowledgeable but when they couldn’t find some information they would consult with colleagues. The agent smiled throughout and their warm personality made me feel that they were working just for me. They supplied comprehensive information, tailored to my needs, and the excursions were very appealing.

Quotes: We would travel in April, flying from Manchester to Lima via Amsterdam with KLM. It would be Kuoni’s 12-day Lost World of the Incas tour, and we would stay in a selection of hotels. It would cost £5,830. The agent pointed out several options such as visits to markets and archaeological sites. The agent said that would be the best price flying from Manchester with KLM.

Overall: The agent was professional, helpful and efficient. They paid close attention to my needs especially with Manchester flights. They were very persuasive and the quote was well within budget.

58 Deansgate

Impression: The shop was very busy and divided into different areas of expertise. Staff wore corporate shirts, and window and brochure displays were uncluttered.

Service: I was greeted warmly and immediately introduced to an expert on South America. The agent was very knowledgeable as they had visited Peru. They asked some open questions and tailored the quote to our needs.

Quotes: The quote was for a 12-day G Adventures escorted tour, called Amazon to the Andes, with Iberia flights from Manchester or Gatwick in April. It started in Lima and we would then fly to Cusco, walk along the Inca Trail and visit Machu Piccu, before another flight to Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon jungle.

The quote had details about excursions and experiences at each location, such as a cooking class. The price was estimated at about £3,000 each but they couldn’t give a precise figure because of the “fluctuation of internal flights”. They said it would not be over the budget.

Overall: The agent was enthusiastic, well-informed and focused on my needs. They were persuasive and made favourable comments about Peru.

St Mary’s Gate

Impression: It was a small shop with two desks. Staff wore casual clothes but were well presented. The window and brochure displays were slightly cluttered.

Service: I was greeted warmly but the agent did not seem to be comfortable talking about Peru and could not show much enthusiasm. They showed some brochure pictures but did not ask many open questions or prolong the enquiry.

There were no suggestions made during my visit, other than showing me brochures from Cox & Kings and Travel 2. There was no discussion about Peru nor any excursions. They seemed glad to conclude my visit. The whole encounter was rushed and took about seven minutes. I was handed the brochures and told to contact the shop with any preferences. However, I later received a quote by email.

Quotes: There was one quote, for a 13-day Treasures of Peru tour in April 2020, flying to Lima with Air France and returning with KLM. It visited places such as Santa Catalina Convent in Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Taquile Island on Lake Titicaca, Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. It would cost £5,790 for standard accommodation and £6,838 for superior accommodation.

Overall: They did not seem interested in providing quotes or information during my visit but eventually provided a good quote and itinerary by email.


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