This week Mystery Shopper was looking for a Greek island villa for a family of four with two teenagers. They wanted to go off the beaten track, but be near a beach and be within walking distance of a village with restaurants.
Thomas Cook and Dawson and Sanderson struggled to come up with something to meet Mystery Shopper's needs, and although pleasant, there was a bit of a lack of enthusiasm apart form the agent at The Co-operative Travel. All agents stuck to the main islands.
The target: Carlisle, Cumbria
Wanted: A family villa on a less touristy Greek island
8 English Street
The consultant looked up, smiled and asked if she could help when I entered the store. She was friendly and tried to build up a relationship with me. She looked up holidays on her system and when she found one she retrieved the relevant brochure for me to see the villa.
She explained the location in relation to the beach, bars and restaurants. I was quoted Hersonissos in Crete staying in the Nine Muses Villa for two weeks, costing £5,138 with Thomson lifestyle.
She didn't really bring the holiday to life. She only offered one holiday to me, which was far too expensive. She took my details and offered to call if something else came up.
13-15 English Street
This was a well presented agency. I had to volunteer most of the information here, as the consultant didn't ask questions but waited for me to give her details. She checked her computer and looked at a brochure.
The consultant quoted 14 nights at Mistral Cottage in Aghios Stefanos, Corfu, costing £3,020. She struggled at times navigating the computer system, but did come up with a holiday that suited me. There was no attempt to sell extras or close the sale. Although friendly and patient enough, her enthusiasm didn't come across.
Dawson and Sanderson
31 Lowther Street
I was asked plenty of questions so the agent got a good understanding of my needs. She found some holidays on her computer and got a brochure to try and find more pictures in there.
She couldn't find a location near to a beach and the villages were two kilometres away from the villa. I was quoted for two Corfu villas - Villa Elhida in Nissaki from £3,987 with Cosmos and Villa Thalassa in Barbati for £4,782 with Thomson lifestyle.
The agent was friendly and helpful but was unable to meet all my requirements, including finding a property within walking distance of a village.
The Co-operative Travel
It took five minutes for an agent to become free, but once one had finished her phone conversation she invited me over to her desk with a smile. She got some brochures from the rack and started a computer search.
She went through a few operators until she was happy she had found a match for my requirements, dismissing those that she found too expensive. She suggested staying at Mistral Cottage in Aghios Stefanos, Corfu, for 14 nights with Style Villas costing £3,445.
She said car hire was essential but didn't quote. She offered insurance and tried very hard to close the sale. The consultant was friendly, enthusiastic and patient. She added that she would continue looking for me and offered to call if anything better came up.
- Get the inside story on this and other Mystery Shopper features on the Community Editor's Blog
- More than 6,000 islands form part of Greece, spanning from the northeast Agean islands to Crete in the south. Each cluster of islands has a different personality. For example, the Cyclades, which has islands such as Santorini, is known for whitewashed houses with blue roofs.
- Agents this week stuck to the better know Greek islands, even though Mystery Shopper asked to go off the beaten track. There are plenty of mainstream operators offering the smaller islands such as Paxos of Alonissos, so there is no excuse to stick to the main islands.
- Warn clients that if they do go to one of the smaller islands, the journey will be longer as they are unlikely to be able to fly direct. For example if a client was flying to Ithaca, they would fly into Kefalonia and then get a ferry.
- If you're selling a lesser known Greek island check the beaches. Some, such as Paxos, will have more pebble beaches.
- To get more product knowledge about Greek islands holidays visit Gazetteers.com. The site also contains photos of resorts and hotel reviews from fellow travel agents.
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