Mystery shopper: Inverness, a first-time holiday

Mystery shopper: Inverness, a first-time holiday

Location: Inverness, Scotland
Wanted: A traveller who has never been on holiday alone is seeking up to a week of soft adventure with like-minded people in March. They’re open to suggestions on the destination.
Budget: £2,000

Alba Travel
43 Church Street
91%
The shop was well lit, clean and had attractive displays. I was greeted straight away by an agent who suggested Just You’s tour of Pompeii, Sorrento and the Bay of Naples for £1,760. She found a flight connection to Gatwick from Inverness with easyJet on March 14 and British Airways flights from there to Naples. The trip featured accommodation at the four-star Hotel Palma and excursions to Capri and Mount Vesuvius. The price included an overnight stay at the London Hilton on the way back. The agent asked plenty of questions to establish my needs, and was knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. She didn’t do much to close the sale but the recommendation matched my needs.

Inverness Travel
Ground floor, Beechwood Park
86%
The shop was well organised, with modern furniture. The agent suggested Titan’s seven-night Sorrento and Amalfi Coast tour on April 16, flying to Naples from Inverness, via Gatwick, with easyJet and BA for £1,418. A second option was Trafalgar’s Simply Italy tour, flying the same route on March 18, staying at hotels in Rome, Venice and Florence, for £2,099. The agent was good at providing information, but I had to push for a quote.

Tui
Eastgate Shopping Centre
69%
The agent said the shop didn’t offer single-person tours (despite them being available on the Tui website), and recommended Alba Travel. They were friendly and offered two all-inclusives to Gran Canaria. I was offered the Riu Palace Oasis for £1,755 and the ClubHotel Riu Gran Canaria for £1,539. Both flew from Glasgow on January 15 with Tui Airways. The agent did talk about the excursions, although these were extra.


Winning agent

Lyndsay Cluness, leisure travel consultant

“Solo travellers are few and far between. It’s important to ask questions to determine whether they want to be part of a group or not, then we know the operators that are best for that.”


Verdict

Both independents stood out for finding great itineraries for a solo traveller. But Alba took top spot for its location and appearance, as well as the agent’s knowledge.


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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