Location: Oldham, Lancashire
Shopping for: A cheap peak-season UK family holiday for four
10 High Street
On entering there were three agents behind desks and two in the Bureau de Change, all were serving customers. Two other customers were waiting to be served.
The branch was well presented. There were notices in the brochure area saying I could book an appointment. I had rung the store the day before, but was not advised then to book an appointment.
I left after a 21 minute wait, during which time several customer groups came in and left the store. I was disappointed that I was not acknowledged during the whole time I was in the branch and there did not seem to be sufficient staff available.
45 Market Place
On entering I saw some litter on the doormat and the chairs looked tatty with some of the innards foam showing. I was served quickly in a polite and helpful manner, although the agent lacked enthusiasm compared to the two higher scoring consultants.
The agent suggested Hoseasons at Talacre Beach in North Wales. She described the area and went through the product and said why it was suitable fore me. She quoted £507 for a week in a 12ft caravan.
She gave me her card but did not seem to be overly attentive, interested or patient with me.
The Co-operative Travel
22 High Street
This branch was immediately impressive by its sheer size and imposing spiral staircase. I was offered assistance, but unfortunately the agent said the systems were not working in the branch.
The consultant said that she could ring for prices for my request and got quotes included £450 for four nights Cala Gran park in Fleetwood with Haven. She talked about the Co-operative membership card. She then got a £359 quote for a week at Pontins at Southport.
She took my name and number and said she would call once the system was back up and running. Although disappointing about the systems, the agent was friendly, professional and enthusiastic.
27 Market Place
I was immediately greeted and offered a hot drink by a staff member, while waiting a couple of minutes for a ‘travel trained’ consultant to become free.
My details were taken and she asked about my request, explaining different accommodation standards. She rang Pontins who quoted £374 for a week at Prestatyn and £689 for half-board, £354 was quoted for self-catering at Southport.
The consultant said these were excellent prices, saying they were as good as they would get as staff. She recommended self-catering for my budget, saying I could stock up on food at the large local supermarket and would not spend as much as the difference quoted.
The agent was confident and I trusted what she said. All staff were enthusiastic and seemed genuinely interested in me.
- Dreading a visit from Mystery Shopper? Read our 20 tips for beating her
- Get the inside track on this and other Mystery Shopper features - read community editor Emily Ashwell's blog
Tip 1: With the credit crunch and expensive Euro, this summer is shaping up to be a bumper year for UK holidays. Now is the time to swot up on UK product knowledge. There is an EnjoyEngland course on the TWacademy.
Tip 2: Holiday camps have long shed their uncool image. Activities can be a real selling point, for example at Butlins Bognor Regis kids can record their own CD with professional equipment and backing music. Also sell on the free activities at holiday parks such as bowling and go-carting.
Tip 3: Caravans are also enjoying a revival. Haven has spent millions of pounds re-vamping its 35 caravan parks, focussing on water facilities and activities.
Tip 4: Lodges could also be a good option for this family. Bluestone is a holiday village in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park consisting of 182 self-catering lodges and is sold through Superbreak. Facilities include a pub, restaurants, shop and spa.
Tip 5: To get more product knowledge about UK holidays visit Gazetteers.com. The site also contains photos of resorts and hotel reviews from fellow travel agents.
Mystery Shopper prizes
Each 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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