The mystery shopper visited two travel agencies in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, and requested a three-night European Christmas market break in December for two friends with a budget of £1,000.
They then made two Google.co.uk searches using the term ‘Christmas markets break’.
Mystery Shopper said: Thomas Cook came high up the Google rankings and felt trustworthy as a well-known brand. The site was eye-catching and had plenty of market options. But finding a phone number on the homepage was difficult and it took a while to find a number in the Contact Us section. The consultant was charming and easy to talk to, recommending Prague, Berlin and Vienna as possible destinations. She suggested Prague first but there were no convenient flights from Belfast, so we looked at Berlin instead. She found a package with flights from Belfast International for £331pp at a three-star hotel, which was well under my budget. The consultant said a colleague had been to Berlin’s Christmas markets last year and suggested they could call me the following day to talk about their experiences. Throughout the call, the consultant was very enthusiastic about my trip and went beyond the call of duty in arranging for their colleague to speak to me.
How long have you worked for Thomas Cook?
For 11 years – I worked in Lanark for 10 years and moved to Stirling six months ago. I’ve been in travel for 20 years, initially with AT Mays.
Do you handle many queries from thomascook.com?
We take a few calls when there’s an overspill from the call centres.
Do you sell many Christmas market breaks?
They have become popular because you can combine them with low-cost airlines. Berlin is a good seller, with Prague and Krakow also popular.
What’s been selling well for you?
Everybody likes the Canaries and Spain at the moment.
Where do you like to go on holiday yourself?
I went to Bahamas with Sandals recently – that was a great holiday.
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.