Mystery Shopper: Dunfermline travel agents tested on a Caribbean break

Mystery Shopper: Dunfermline travel agents tested on a Caribbean break

Location: Dunfermline, Fife
Shopping for: A credit-crunch-priced holiday to the Caribbean for a couple who have never been before

The agencies

Going Places
Unit 6, Kingsgate Centre, Dunfermline

Score: 35%

This agency had a neat but busy window and there was no main focus. There were no customers when I entered.

After explaining my request, the consultant showed me a brochure, recommending I looked at it to see what I was interested in doing and the type of resort I was after. She told me to come back when I had a more definite idea and she would check prices and availability.

She didn’t suggest any destinations or look for special deals. She gave me Thomas Cook Tropical Shores and Thomas Cook Signature Caribbean and Mexico brochures.

I was disappointed with the lack of attention and help the agent gave me, especially considering how quiet the agency was.

Although friendly, the consultant didn’t seem to be looking for a sale.


Ramsay World Travel, 38 Kingsgate Centre, DunfermlineRamsay World Travel
38 Kingsgate Centre, Dunfermline

Score: 58%

The cluttered window was not attractive, but a consultant greeted me as soon as I entered.

The consultant told me about a special deal available for two weeks in October, for £699 all-inclusive at the Luperon Beach Hotel in the Dominican Republic.

The second deal cost £849 but there was no definite location, instead a choice of two hotels, which were jointly owned. The third holiday offered was at the five-star Iberostar Costa Dorada at £1,109 but this was given more as a comparison.

The agent did well trying to sell the holiday on price and value for money, but I was disappointed not to have been shown any brochures or given details of the facilities available at each destination.


Thomson, Unit 2, Kingsgate Centre, DunfermlineThomson
Unit 2, Kingsgate Centre, Dunfermline

Score: 83%

After a couple of minutes I was invited to take a seat by a consultant at this busy agency. She failed to come up with anything in my budget of £1,000 or less, and checked for a Sandals promotion.

She went back to the main system and found the following: Casa Marina for £1,728 or Tropical Princess costing £1,978, both all-inclusive and in the Dominican Republic. She offered insurance, car hire, parking, airport accommodation and lounges.

The thoroughness of the services was impressive, but a bit slow at times, sometimes due to the computer.

I felt the consultant was a bit nervous but provided good results.


The winner

First Choice, 29 High Street, DunfermlineFirst Choice
29 High Street, Dunfermline

Score: 97%

The consultant immediately greeted me at this well presented agency. After explaining the request, she took me to the brochure area, telling me there were good deals available.

The consultant asked colleagues for recommendations and I was offered a drink while she checked the system and someone else took down my details.

She offered 14 nights at the Riu Merengue in the Dominican Republic for £985 per person and a copy of the First Choice Tropical brochure. She discussed pre-bookable excursions with Attraction World, including swimming with dolphins, and asked about airport accommodation and car parking.

The agent offered to follow up the enquiry. I was impressed with the service. They worked as a team and I left feeling I wanted to book with them.


It was mixed bag for Mystery Shopper in Dunfermline.

Mystery Shopper’s request might have seemed vague, but those who scored the highest points were the ones who seized the opportunity to make great suggestions and push for a sale.

Well done to the First Choice consultant for making a real effort to sell excursions.


Selling tips

Tip 1: While the Dominican Republic is a big charter destination and offers great value for money, it is part of the Spanish Caribbean, so will have a different feel to more ‘typical’ rum, sun and reggae islands. It is important to explain this to the customer.

Tip 2: It is important to discuss excursions in this region before clients leave as they could come home feeling they didn’t see the destination or had to pay extra out there for tours.

Tip 3: There are great Caribbean deals at the moment. Caribtours is offering a seven-night package to Discovery at Marigot Bay in St Lucia from £1,363 per person, saving £373, travelling until mid-April.

Tip 4: Consider switch-selling to a cruise. This is a great way for first-time visitors to see several islands in one holiday.

Tip 5: For a thorough run-down of resorts and hotels in the Caribbean visit www.gazetteers.com. The site also contains photos of resorts and hotel reviews from fellow travel agents.

Mystery Shopper prizes

Elite Island ResortsEach month’s highest scoring travel agent gets the chance to drive a Porsche Boxster S courtesy of Elite Island Resorts. More at www.travelweekly.co.uk/elite


Mystery Shopper scoring system

  • 60% Advice and product knowledge
  • 12% Customer service
  • 8% External/internal appearance
  • 7% Welcome
  • 7% Farewell
  • 6% Staff presentation


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