The mystery shopper visited two travel agencies in Colchester and requested an open-jaw ticket from London to Buenos Aires and from Rio de Janeiro back to London in February 2016, travelling around Easter for three weeks, with a maximum budget of £1,000.
They then made two Google.co.uk searches using the term ‘flights to South America’.
Colchester Travel, 39 Church Street
Mystery Shopper said: The outside looked inviting, with a large A-frame board stopping pedestrians in their tracks. Too many posters in the window obscured the view into the store. The interior was small but tidy. I was greeted by a friendly consultant who asked me to take a seat. They chatted about my trip while waiting for the computer to produce the results. After spending time looking through various flights, they advised me there was not a big difference between direct and indirect prices and it would be worth paying a bit more to save on time and changing flights. They recommended British Airways flights for £665 and warned that prices fluctuated daily. They said there would be a £30 booking fee, as the store did not make commission on flights. They handed me a printed quote, with their business card and said they could put in special requests for seat preferences.
Senior travel consultant
How long in travel?
I have been at Colchester Travel for just over a year. Before that I worked for Tui for two and a half years. Working for an independent is more me.
Does Colchester Travel do many flight-only bookings?
We have many regulars that come time and time again for us to book their flights. Flight-only bookings don’t make us much money so we charge a small booking fee.
What is your favourite airline?
Singapore Airlines – I couldn’t fault them. The cabin crew is exceptional.
Where have you been in the world this year?
I have been to Goa, Australia, Florida, Turkey and Barcelona, and I am currently in Thailand!
Where is on your bucket list?
Tell us something our readers may not know about Colchester
It is the oldest recorded town in Great Britain.
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.