Mystery Shopper: Croatia challenge for travel agents in Middlesbrough

Mystery Shopper: Croatia challenge for travel agents in Middlesbrough

Location: Middlesbrough, Cleveland
Shopping for: A holiday to Croatia taking in city, beach and inland discovery

The agencies

Thomas Cook
107 Linthorpe Road, Middlesborough

Score: 31%

This branch had a number of travel deals in the window display and the interior was well presented.

The brochure racks were neatly organised and all staff were wearing full uniform. There were eight travel agents and 13 customers visible when I entered and I waited seven minutes to be greeted.

Once my enquiry was being dealt with, the consultant attempted to search for some of the packages they had available. Unfortunately, she then stated that they did not have any suitable packages for Croatia and visits to the Dubrovnik area.

I left the agency feeling disappointed that the consultant didn’t make much of an attempt to assist me.


Dawson and Sanderson, 127 Linthorpe Road, MiddlesboroughDawson and Sanderson
127 Linthorpe Road, Middlesborough

Score: 73%

The consultant who served me was polite and helpful and her willingness to find me the best deal was excellent. However, points were lost because I had to wait five minutes to be served, I wasn’t given any means of contacting the agent to follow up and the agent didn’t take my contact details.

She suggested that I fly into Dubrovnik and book day excursions out there. The consultant found quotes for £1,500 for Apartmani Ivana and flights, but when she looked into booking the flights and accommodation separately it brought the price down to £800 per person for two weeks.

She said she would match any quote from another agent.


Tate’s Travel, 2 Newport Crescent, MiddlesboroughTate’s Travel
2 Newport Crescent, Middlesborough

Score: 77%

The consultants at this well-presented agency were all busy when I entered, but I was soon asked to take a seat.

The consultant suggested I fly to Dubrovnik, and looked at a number of different sites to find the appropriate information. She found quotes for separate flights and accommodation at Apartmani Ivana costing £827 per person, and also bed and breakfast at Sumratin Hotel for £870 per person, including flights.

Before I left the agency the agent gave me her name and branch contact number.

She was cheerful and helpful and made me feel comfortable however, she made no attempt to close the sale.


The winner

Thomson, 13A High Street, PaisleyThomson
13A High Street, Paisley

Score: 96%

The branch was tidy with a well-organised brochure section and the consultant welcomed me to her a desk in a professional manner with a smile and good eye contact. 

Suggesting I fly to Dubrovnik, she asked about accommodation type and budget and explained the benefits of the different hotel options and their proximity to local attractions. #

The consultant found a number of quotes, the cheapest being £700 per person, for separate flights and accommodation at Orsetta Apartments. No details were printed for me to take away.

She gave me two brochures – Thomson Italy and Croatia and Thomson Lifestyle, City Hotels – and her business card and suggested I return when I’d chosen a hotel.


It was a mixed bag in Middlesborough this week.

On this particular occasion, there was a poor consultation from Thomas Cook. Dawson and Sanderson and Tate’s Travel were both helpful. However, Thomson received the top score because the agent made an extra effort to provide information and tried the hardest to get Mystery Shopper to return to book.


Selling tips

Tip 1: All the agents offered one-centre holidays. Croatia is a relatively small country and it is easy to get around and see many areas through day trip excursions. Alternatively, both Balkan Holidays and Cosmos twin the beach island of Korcula with Dubrovnik.

Tip 2: Regent Holidays offers a 10-day self-drive itinerary, beginning in Split and visiting Hvar island and Krka National Parks. Routes are picturesque, but tend to be single lane so can sometimes be slow.

Tip 3: Croatia offers value for money at the moment because it is outside the eurozone. Jet2.com and easyJet are offering new routes to Croatia this year.

Tip 4: Alternative ways to get a feel for the country are via cruises and coach tours. Operators including Thomas Cook offer a cruise down the Dalmatian Coast. Regent Holidays and Inghams both offer seven-night coach tours.

Tip 5: For a complete rundown of all the resorts and hotels in Croatia visit www.gazetteers.com. The website 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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