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The mystery shopper visited two travel agencies in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, and requested a 10 to 14-day tour for two people in South Africa, with a budget of £12,000.

They then made two Google.co.uk searches using the term ‘South Africa escorted tour’.

The winner

The winner

Thirsk Travel Centre
13 Market Place


Score 78%


Mystery Shopper said: The windows were obscured by posters and it was shabby inside. A consultant welcomed me, apologised that he had no 2017 brochures but said they were expected in the next 10 days. I was invited to discuss what I wanted from the trip. Our interaction was interrupted twice as he reassured an elderly couple that Monarch was still flying and he answered the phone to reassure a client that tickets would arrive that evening. I thought this highlighted the personal level of service on offer and each time he apologised to me. He asked many questions and used a map and the internet to highlight destinations and experiences. He also used testimonials from other clients about South Africa. I felt confident he was knowledgeable. A quote arrived just over 24 hours later for a tailor-made tour with African Pride. This came in at £6,158 including British Airways flights, on account of my Avios points. I liked the personalised service here.

Meet the consultant

The winner, Ian Barton from Thirsk Travel Centre, chose to work with African Pride, which has the following tips for visiting South Africa:


  • Whether it be the people, the scenery, the activities or the flora and fauna, it’s hard to imagine any other country on the planet with such diversity.
  • Almost exactly five times the size of the UK, South Africa is a destination that warrants several visits, but if you only have one chance then we can tailor the perfect itinerary to make the most of your time. Top of most people’s lists are Cape Town and a safari area.
  • Kruger National Park is the most iconic of the game viewing areas, but there are many alternatives, such as the game reserves of the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the North West Province.
  • Some of the world’s most luxurious rail trips can also be found in South Africa: Rovos Rail, the Blue Train and the Shongololo Express.

React Surveys explainer / disclaimer

TTG has teamed up with React Surveys to simulate a realistic booking process each week – that means a mystery shopper looking for the best deal from agents and operators on the high street, online, on TV or in newspapers. The Mystery Shopper research is carried out on behalf of TTG by React Surveys,and no further details or information can be disclosed. Researchers take into consideration first impression, sales process, product and budget match and extras offered before giving an unbiased opinion of which channel/company they would have booked with on that occasion. We do not claim that the winner is the best in an area or specialist sector, as we may report on competing travel firms in the future. Please note that the aim of Mystery Shopper is not to criticise individual agents or companies, but to promote good sales technique for the benefit of all in the travel trade.

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