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The mystery shopper visited two agencies in St Andrews, Scotland, and requested a 9 to 14-day escorted tour of Central America, which included Costa Rica, for one person with a budget of £3,200 in December 2016.


They then did a search using the term ‘Central American tour’.

The winner

The winner

Thomas Cook

37 Bell Street


Score: 96%


Mystery Shopper said: ­This shop made a positive first impression with its attractive window display and tidy interior; staff members were smartly dressed with name badges. I spoke to a consultant who was friendly and professional. They asked about my budget, whether I was travelling alone and how I would get to the airport, then showed me relevant itineraries and let me read through the brochures while they checked availability.


The consultant suggested a 10-day all-inclusive Tropical Costa Rica holiday with Thomas Cook Tours, which was good value at £2,389 and well within my budget. They added that another consultant had been on this holiday and recommended it. They said I could secure it with a £200 deposit and it was best to book within 48 hours. The consultant also gave me information on insurance, which was included. I was given a written quote, business card and brochure. I was impressed by the service and the consultant was very proactive in finding the best holiday.

Meet the consultant

Meet the consultant

Scott Sangster

sales consultant

Thomas Cook, St Andrews


How long have you been in travel?

Two and a half years.


Why did you become a travel agent?

I’ve always been interested in different places and I like to get to know our customers.


What’s your favourite destination?

I like the Greek islands and will be going there on holiday later this year.


What’s your dream destination?

Australia – I would love to visit areas such as New South Wales and the Gold Coast.


What’s been selling well for you?

Spain has been doing really well for us – especially Majorca and the Canaries.


Do you get many enquiries for Costa Rica?

Not many so far but that could change with British Airways and Thomson starting flights. It looks like an amazing place and it could catch on. I had been reading about Costa Rica in Wanderlust magazine a few days before the enquiry.

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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TTG - Travel Trade Gazette
For Smarter, Better, Fairer Travel
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Place of registration: England and Wales.
Company number 08723341.
Registered address: 6th Floor, 2 London Wall Place, London EC2Y 5AU