This week Mystery Shopper was a couple looking for a holiday to North Africa. They had never been to the region before and thought that Tunisia might be a good option. They wanted a week's stay with a bit of culture and beach.
All agents delivered, but only on the basics - a lack of extras was offered and Mystery Shopper certainly didn't like being asked for her contact details without an explanation why these were needed.
The Target: Crewe, Cheshire
Wanted: A first-time holiday to North Africa, maybe Tunisia, with culture and beach, for a couple
6 Heath Street
A cluttered shop front greeted me at this independent agency. I was served immediately and the agent asked questions about duration, star-rating, board basis and the kind of holiday I was looking for.
The consultant made a couple of suggestions and searched patiently for other hotels after I said I wanted to be closer to the resort centre.
The agent gave me a quote for £506 per person all-inclusive for the RIU Green Park in Port El Kantaoui, Tunisia from the Thomson Summer Collection.
She didn't attempt to upgrade the holiday or sell add-ons, but did attempt to close the sale. I was given a holiday enquiry form and offered a brochure.
64 Market Street
Good looking from the outside, this shop was bland looking inside.
The seating was a bit close together too, not giving customers much privacy.
Before asking about the holiday, she took my personal details without explaining why she needed them at this early stage. The agent recommended the Marhaba Palace in Port El Kantaoui costing £369 per person, but didn't verbally offer add-ons such as insurance or car hire.
Instead this offer was printed on the customer enquiry sheet, which she gave me to take away. She tried to close the sale by asking me directly if I wanted to book the holiday. Although she was patient and helpful, I felt the agent wasn't very enthusiastic and didn't get me excited about my holiday.
- Community Editor's Blog: Do you take customers' details even when they are just enquiring? Do you explain why?
The Co-operative Travel
64A Market Street
The agent was having a private phone conversation when I entered and after two minutes finished and greeted me with a smile and an apology for the wait.
Once I had her attention she was friendly and patient. She took my name and number straight away, but also didn't explain why she needed these details. After detailing my request, she made for recommendations, one was the Iberostar Phenicia in Hammamet from £478 per person all inclusive.
She didn't suggest add ons, but recommended a couple of excursions that I could book in resort. Despite her service, I felt she should have finished her personal call to attend to me and wouldn't go back to this agency to book my holiday.
69 Market Street
There were no customers in this branch so I was immediately greeted and offered a seat.
The agent started by asking questions about my preferred airport, destination, travel dates and board basis. While she was searching I noticed the walls were damaged from the backrests of the chairs in the otherwise bright and friendly branch.
While getting brochures for me, a second agent printed a list of excursions. Quotes included Iberostar Phenicia in Hammamet from £454 per person and she asked about insurance. She offered me a brochure and wrote down the holiday details on a form.
The consultant asked if I wanted to book and was understanding when I said I needed to discuss it with my husband first. She said farewell in a friendly manner, which encouraged me to return or recommend this branch.
Tip 1: With more than 700 miles of beaches, Tunisia also offers culture, adventure, spa and golf. The most popular resorts are on the northern east coast, with Hammamet, Sousse, Port El Kantaoui and Mahdia.
Tip 2: If the couple was after culture, Turkey offers great Roman remains, including the remains of the ancient city of Carthage on the outskirts of Tunis. There are also beautiful mosques in places such as Sousse and Kairouan.
Tip 3: Tunisia has agreed to the open skies agreement , allowing airlines to operate freely within its airspace, and paving the way for more flights, which could bring prices down.
Tip 4: Tunisia could be quite a gentle introduction to North Africa for first timers. Many resorts are quite European in feel. It is also outside the eurozone.
Tip 5: For more product knowledge about North Africa holidays visit Gazetteers. The site also contains photos of resorts and hotel reviews from fellow travel agents.
- Read more Mystery Shopper features
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