The mystery shopper visited three travel agencies in Sutton and requested a week’s holiday in Cyprus for two people in September 2015, staying at a small family-run hotel, with car hire, on a budget of £1,000. They asked for recommendations to experience traditional Cyprus.
They then made a Google.co.uk search using the term ‘Cyprus tailor-made holiday’
Mystery Shopper said: I was greeted instantly in a light and spacious store by a welcoming agent. While taking notes, she said she’d visited Ayia Napa, and explained the weather we could expect. She showed me some cultural and vineyard tours from Thomson, and offered to print them if we booked, to use as inspiration when driving ourselves. She recommended Thomson’s Small & Friendly range, giving me a Greece & Cyprus brochure. I found Protaras’s Anais Bay Hotel and Apartments, and I was shown lots of photos online. The agent was keen to ensure it was a good choice for us, highlighting customer reviews and checking the hotel’s website to ensure parking was available. I was given three flight options, settling on a B&B package for £1,278. She was enthusiastic and friendly, I felt she genuinely wanted to find me a holiday that fitted my requirements and she followed up with a personal email four days later.
Hannah Reeve, Travel advisor, Thomson
How long in travel?
I’ve been at Thomson for a year now - before that I worked at Waitrose and for the council. I always wanted to work in travel because I love hearing about people’s holidays.
How often do customer enquiries have a responsible angle?
It depends on the customer - when it’s a family, it’s not necessarily at the forefront because they’re more concerned about the children having a good time, but people often express an interest in local culture.
What’s your take on it?
When I travel I like to explore the local area. I did a jeep safari in the Dominican Republic that took us into towns to meet people and we made sure to buy hand-made souvenirs from locals.
Have you been to Cyprus before?
I have, but to Nissi Beach in Ayia Napa - it was a different holiday to the one the Mystery Shopper wanted!
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.