Location: Birmingham
Wanted: A couple would like to go on an escorted tour of China for up to two weeks in April 2018. They would love to see Beijing, the Great Wall, Forbidden City and Terracotta Warriers.
Budget: £10,000

John Lewis, 2 Station Road
The store was very inviting and well laid out. I was acknowledged almost immediately by a confident agent and we exchanged contact details. He asked me in-depth questions and was very knowledgeable about China. He suggested a 13-night itinerary with a three-night stay in Hong Kong at the Harbour Grand Kowloon before travelling to Beijing and embarking on Kuoni’s 10-night Highlights of China tour. Flights were with British Airways from Heathrow on April 17 and all internal flights were with Dragonair. The total price was £7,179 including private car transfers. Everything fitted my needs and included the places I wanted to visit. The agent discussed upgrading my hotels and flights.

Bullring Shopping Centre
The store was untidy with litter on the floor. The agent was enthusiastic but lacked destination knowledge and told me they would phone another company for details. I was offered a nine-night tour with Hayes & Jarvis, the name of which wasn’t given. The tour visited Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and the Great Wall with flights from Heathrow on April 10 for £4,796. The agent did not send an itinerary by email later as promised.

Flight Centre
51 New Street
The agent was friendly, but had little destination knowledge, lacked enthusiasm, chewed gum, smelt of cigarette smoke and was unkempt. I was offered an 11-day Essential China tour with Exodus from Beijing to Hong Kong, visiting the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square with BA flights from Heathrow on April 3 for £4,058. The tour matched my needs, but the agent’s demeanour and presentation impacted the experience.

Winning agent

Matt Barley, assistant store manager

“I have worked in travel since for 15 years and I always make sure I focus on the needs of the customer. I always read Mystery Shopper in Travel Weekly so it is amazing be a winner!”


Two agents did not make the most of the mystery shopper’s budget and suffered pitfalls in destination knowledge as well as basic presentation and customer service.

Elite resorts caribbean

Top-scoring agent each month will win use of a car for 10 days.

The winning agent must be at least 25, for insurance reasons. Winners under 25 will win a week’s all-inclusive holiday at an Elite Islands Resorts property. The prize is non-transferable and the car must be driven only by the winning agent. The winner must not have any serious driving convictions. Elite Island Resorts will endeavour to supply the car to the agency but reserves the right to request the winning agent to collect and return the car from Essex or a central location