The mystery shopper visited two travel agencies in Taunton, Somerset, and requested a one-week villa holiday for a family of four in Sardinia in late July/early August 2015, with a budget of £2,500-£3,500.
They then made two Google.co.uk searches using the term ‘Sardinia family holiday’.
Mystery Shopper said: The store was clean and tidy with an attractive window and fully stocked brochure racks. The two consultants were smartly dressed. They were busy when I entered but one made eye contact with me and smiled.
The consultant who served me asked lots of questions and suggested an option from a Simply Travel brochure, which is Thomson’s sister firm. They confirmed prices and availability on the spot and I felt confident the product met my needs.
The suggested holiday at the self-catering Villa Lu Barranch, Alghero was slightly over-budget at £3,741 but included car hire. My only criticism was that there seemed to be a lack of choice when it came to finding a villa holiday.
The consultant recommended a hotel at Gatwick and tried to seal the deal by explaining there was a low deposit of £295 and availability could become an issue. They took my details and I received a friendly follow-up email two days later.
How long have you worked in travel?
Since I was 17. I worked for the Holiday Inn for a couple of years, but otherwise I’ve worked for the Tui Group for more than 20 years.
Is Sardinia popular for you?
We don’t sell much of it, but we do sell a lot of the Simply Travel product in the Mediterranean. It’s great for families - it’s a bit more flexible than a traditional hotel.
Have you been there?
No, but I’ve sent lots of clients there and I have a friend who has been to Villa Lu Barranch. It’s always good to have personal recommendations.
Have you sampled the Simply Travel product?
Yes, I’ve been to Ibiza with friends and the Algarve with family.
Any holidays planned for 2015?
I’ve just come back from Florida and I’m off to New York next month and I’m going on the Anthem of the Seas in May. I’m always busy, but that’s why I work in travel.
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.