The mystery shopper visited two travel agencies in Saltcoats and requested a 14-night river cruise on the Mekong for two females in their sixties in February 2016, with a budget limit of £8,000.
They then made two Google.co.uk searches using the term ‘Mekong river cruise’
Frasers Travel, 7 Dockhead Street, Saltcoats
Mystery Shopper said: The inside of this well-established agency was a little shabby but there was a wide range of brochures and I noted a “Best Travel Agent” award from 2014. I was quickly offered help from a consultant who showed interest in my enquiry.
They spent a lot of time on the phone with suppliers but they talked to me while awaiting responses, discussing all aspects with me. They made two suggestions, one with Titan for £10,298pp, and the other with Viking, for £7,998, taking advantage of a £1,000 early booking discount.
We discussed the best flight routes. They took my details and called me back the same day to add more choices, while emphasising the limited number of cabins available. They were friendly, showed good product knowledge and were willing to do a lot of research to find the best holiday for the criteria I gave.
Julie McCallum, travel consultant, Frasers Travel
How many years at Frasers Travel?
About 30. It’s my husband’s business – we met on a fam trip in South Africa.
Do you sell much river cruise?
It’s becoming more popular – there are definite advantages. You see so much and you don’t have to travel all over the place.
What else do you sell?
A lot of bucket-and-spade holidays to Spain, but we do have a small niche market who like to spend more and go to faraway places.
Have you been to the Mekong region?
Not yet, but I would love to go.
Where have you been on holiday this year?
To the north-west coast of Spain – Vigo and Galicia.
Do you speak Spanish?
A little – I was born in the Caribbean and lived in Venezuela from age 10 to 16.
Where’s on your bucket list?
Peru and the Inca Trail.
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.