Mystery shopper: Preston, first-time skiiing in Europe

Mystery shopper: Preston, first-time skiiing in Europe

Location: Preston
Wanted: A couple in their 20s are ski first-timers and want to ski in Europe for a week anytime this winter. They are seeking advice on equipment, lessons and lift passes.
Budget: £2,000

Thomas Cook
43 Fishergate
85%
The shop was modern and eye catching. I was greeted right away and seated by an agent who offered me three half-board options from the Inghams brochure, which I took away. The first departed on January 6 for a week at Princesa Parc hotel in Arinsal, Andorra, at £1,568 for two with flights. The others, which both left on January 13, were for apartments in Flaine, France, at £1,250 for two, and Chalet Linda in Kitzbuhel, Austria, at £1,852 for two. All included return flights with Thomas Cook Airlines, ski lessons, lift passes and equipment hire. The agent had limited knowledge but did a lot of research to source me the best holiday. She said the deals were good and would sell fast, but was not pushy.

Preston Travel Centre
478 Blackpool Road
80%
The service was good but I didn’t feel the agent had a great deal of ski knowledge. They didn’t ask about my budget and seemed intent on getting a value deal. I was offered five hotels in Austria from the Inghams brochure, all with Austrian Airlines flights. They all departed on January 6 and ranged from £499 to £649 per person, with ski hire and lift passes, ranging in price, on top. I was given a handwritten quote.

Tui
8 Friargate
79%
The shop was a little dark but the service was very good and the agent took time to research options. I was offered two Crystal Ski trips, both half-board. I was quoted £719 for Hotel Jagerwirt in Kitzbuhel and £462 for Hotel Micolau in Arinsal, both per person, plus £496 for lift passes, ski hire and tuition for both. The agent had good knowledge of slopes for beginners but didn’t do much to close the sale. There were no brochures in stock.


Winning agent

Katie Ball, apprentice

“I’d never sold a ski holiday before, or heard of Andorra, so I’m surprised to win. I always put the effort into doing my research, so it’s nice to know that was appreciated. I learnt a lot too!”


Verdict

The agents weren’t ski specialists but all seemed keen to research. The Thomas Cook agent’s service, backed by the impressive store, was enough to pip its rivals this week.


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

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