Location: Wolverhampton, West Midlands
Shopping for: A family holiday to Portugal with clean beaches and somewhere to play golf
18-20 Lichfield Street, Wolverhampton
Unfortunately for the capable and friendly agent who served me, Co-op Travel immediately lost points on the appearance of its shop.
The paintwork needed attention, there was litter on the floor and there was a screwed-up bus ticket and a McDonald’s cup on the desk where I was served.
After three minutes an agent became free. She asked me a broad range of questions about my holiday plans, including what my budget and accommodation preferences were, the airport I wanted to fly from and what I wanted to do.
The consultant made recommendations, printed off two holiday offers and took my contact details, but there were no spare brochures for me to take away. Overall, this was a solid performance.
40 Wulfrun Way, Wolverhampton
All three travel agents were free when I walked in, so I was served immediately. The agent made lots of eye contact and had a friendly smile.
She quizzed me thoroughly on my destination and travel preferences, including what sort of accommodation I wanted. She took notes and offered me two brochures – Thomson Destination Portugal and Madeira and First Choice Summer Sun.
I was given these to take home, plus a written offer. The agent mentioned car hire and insurance, but did not push for a sale. Though she took my contact details, she did not offer to follow up the visit.
These extra efforts would have been the icing on the cake and would have pushed a good score up to a great one.
16a Darlington Street, Wolverhampton
This was another example of a shop’s appearance hampering its score. This agency looked grubby with dirty windows and litter on the floor.
After a two-minute wait a staff member became free. She was thorough and enthusiastic, and really made an effort to find the right holiday for me.
She gave me the First Choice Summer Sun and the Thomson Destinations brochure, two printed offers and the company business card, and offered to follow up my enquiry. She added on insurance and car hire, and went the extra mile to try to close the sale.
First Choice was pipped to the post by Thomas Cook, and would have won had the agency been well maintained and clean.
2e Wulfrun Square, Wolverhampton
After 45 seconds of browsing brochures I was greeted and directed to the agent best placed to deal with my enquiry. Friendly and meticulous, she asked plenty of questions and answered all of mine.
There were no brochures available to take home, but she did direct me to the websites where I could find the information she had shown me in the shop.
I was given a verbal quotation and offered insurance and car hire. The consultant was keen to push for a sale, asking targeted questions, giving me a business card, taking my details and asking if she could ring me “to see how I was getting on”.
This sort of polite persistence hits just the right note and should lead to closing sales.
High scores all round show Wolverhampton agents have sound knowledge of this popular destination. Customer care was impressive and the top two agencies tried to close sales.
However, it seems two of the shops need sprucing up. It was a shame that two capable agents lost points because of untidiness.
Although customer service and product knowledge will sell holidays, these skills could all be for nothing if customers are put off by the scruffy appearance of your shop.
Tip 1: The Algarve in southern Portugal has one of the most dependable climates in the world, usually basking in more than 250 days of sunshine per year. Average daily summer temperatures are 28C, with a light sea breeze.
Tip 2: Portugal’s beaches are sandy and clean – 193 across the country have been awarded a blue flag. The Algarve is great for peaceful bathing, and the west coast has the largest waves, for surfing and water sports fans.
Tip 3:Portugal is famed for its golf courses, and you can book tailored breaks through Thomson, Thomas Cook and Cosmos, among others.
Tip 4: Those who want to get off the tourist trail, should try specialist operators such as Castaway and EHS Travel. Visitors can even stay in converted manor houses and monasteries.
Tip 5: Don’t fancy the mainland? Why not try the golden sandy beaches and clear waters of Madeira’s little sister, Porto Santo. You can now book direct flights from Gatwick through Holiday Options and Atlantic Holidays.
Mystery Shopper scoring system
- 60% Advice and product knowledge
- 12% Customer service
- 8% External/internal appearance
- 7% Welcome
- 7% Farewell
- 6% Staff presentation