Mystery shopper: Online, a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Australia

Mystery shopper: Online, a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Australia

Location: Online
Wanted: A couple want a once-in-a-lifetime two-week trip to Australia where they can see the Great Ocean Road, Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, crocodiles, Sydney and Melbourne and go surfing.
Budget: £8,000

Trailfinders
Trailfinders.com
95%
The website was attractive but a bit cluttered. The agent was helpful, enthusiastic and friendly. He listened, suggested different routes, drawing on knowledge from personal experience, and asked the right questions. I was given a comprehensive itinerary, which included Emirates flights to Sydney via Dubai in January, a Harbour Bridge climb, surfing in Bondi beach, Qantas flights to Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island, flights to Uluru and a guided tour, flights to Cairns, Great Barrier Reef and Daintree rainforest tours and flights from Cairns to Sydney and back to Manchester via Dubai. It was slightly over budget at £8,276, but I was impressed at how quickly I got the quote.

Barrhead Travel
Barrheadtravel.co.uk
85%
It was my least favourite website, but the agent was friendly and had considerable Australia knowledge. They offered flights from Manchester to Adelaide via Dubai in January, car hire to drive to Melbourne via the Great Ocean Road, flights from Melbourne to Sydney, where we’d spend three nights before heading to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef then on to Brisbane, from where we’d fly back. The quote was under budget at £6,696, so extras could have been added.

STA Travel
Statravel.co.uk
56%

The website was attractive and easy to navigate with useful information. I had to listen to an automated pitch trying to sell me travel insurance before I got through, but it didn’t take long. The agent had adequate knowledge, but wasn’t very enthusiastic and said I was “stretching” my budget and that people try to do “too much”. They had good knowledge of geography, but made me feel silly rather than trying to make it work and I didn’t receive the promised itinerary.


Winning agent

Andy Mullin, Travel consultant

“Australia is very popular. It’s a big country and people want to do so much, but there are lots of different itineraries. It’s important to find out which parts of Australia are most important to the customer.”


Verdict

Tailor-made experts Trailfinders came out on top with lots of ideas flying around. The agent did well to organise Mystery Shopper’s ideas into a detailed itinerary, while the STA agent didn’t think it was do-able.


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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