Mystery Shopper: Grantham, a UK coach tour for two retired friends

Location: Grantham
Wanted: A mystery shopper is enquiring on behalf of their mother-in-law and friend who are looking for an escorted coach tour in the UK. They would like a short break, about five nights, but not too far – they don’t want to spend most of the first day and the last day on the coach, and they want separate rooms. They would like somewhere with pretty scenery and interesting excursions and are open to suggestions.
Budget: £1,000


All three agents quoted for Shearings coach tours – but all three were well below budget. Tui won, thanks to the agent’s eagerness to offer good service, and Carrick Travel was also helpful. The shopper felt the agent at Lincolnshire Co-op Travel was reluctant to help – despite the fact that the budget was £1,000. There were missed opportunities to offer a range of quotes for a far more lucrative booking.

Winning agent

Chloe Watts, travel advisor

“We do sell the occasional coach tour and we have a lot of repeat customers for them. Operators sometimes come to see us to talk about their holidays, such as Leger and Newmarket. I have been an agent for a year and like interacting with customers.”


36 High Street

Impression: The shop was clean, and staff wore uniforms with name badges. There was a wide choice of brochures.

Service: I was offered help immediately by a friendly, helpful agent. She showed me lots of options and used a map to study distances to avoid long travel times. The agent was familiar with Shearings, although she admitted she knew more about overseas destinations than the UK. She went through the brochure with us and online, but many of the places available were on the south coast and would have meant travelling for a full day on the coach there and back. She rang a couple of days later to ask if I needed further information.

Quotes: I was quoted for a five-day Shearings coach tour, departing in March. The half-board accommodation would be in two single rooms in the Marine Hotel, Llandudno, Wales. The holiday included excursions to Snowdonia National Park and the village of Betws-y-coed. It would cost £408, with pick-up points near my mother-in-law’s house. There was not much availability for holidays with shorter travel times.

Overall: I had her undivided attention and she asked lots of questions to ascertain what kind of trip we would like. However, the quote was well below budget.

Carrick Travel
14 Guildhall Street

Impression: It was clean and the agents wore smart uniforms. It took me a while to locate this store as it was previously Roma Travel.

Service: I was greeted with bright, cheery hellos and offered help immediately. The agent was friendly and asked quite a few questions, but I didn’t find out about pick-up and drop-off points. They didn’t really know the UK and didn’t read the brochure to explain what the trip contained. The agent printed two quotes and told me to call if I needed more information. I was given business card with the brochure.

Quotes: Both holidays were five-day coach tours with Shearings, departing in March and staying in two single rooms at Strathmore Hotel in Morecambe, Lancaster, on a half-board basis. The first was the Midweek Plus Morecambe tour, which included a drinks package for four drinks per person on the Wednesday night. It cost £378. The second was the Half Board Morecambe tour, which cost £358. The tours visited the Lake District and Lancaster and included a Lake Windermere cruise. The quotes matched my brief in some ways but were greatly below the budget.

Overall: The agent was very attentive, welcoming and helpful. But I would have wanted more detail and something much closer to our budget.

Lincolnshire Co-operative Travel
57 High Street

Impression: The inside was clean. Staff were tidy in their uniforms and displays featured a wide range of brochures.

Service: I was served immediately but the agent was not very helpful and did not take my contact details. The agent said my mother-in-law and her friend could not access pick-up points beyond Grantham (as they lived in York). I said they could both come to us and begin the holiday from Grantham so the agent started a quote. It seemed they were not interested and they didn’t provide any information about pick-up and drop-off points.

Quotes: The quote was for a five-day Shearings coach tour called Cumbrian Coast and Muncaster Castle in April. The accommodation would be in two single rooms on a half-board basis at Summergrove Halls hotel in Whitehaven for a total of £508. It included visits to Muncaster Castle and its Hawk & Owl Centre, the market town of Keswick and the harbour town of Whitehaven. I was told the destination was not too far for my mother-in-law and there was not much walking involved.

Overall: I felt that if I had been booking a more expensive holiday, then the agent may have been a bit more interested. They did not seem willing
to follow up or get a full quote and it was well below budget.


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