Mystery shopper: Burgess Hill/Hassocks, the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix

Mystery shopper: Burgess Hill/Hassocks, the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix

Location: Burgess hill/Hassocks, West Sussex
Wanted: Three friends want to watch the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix on November 25 as part of a five-night trip to the UAE.
Budget: £1,000 per person

Thomas Cook
41 Church Road, Burgess Hill
87%
The window displays were good and the staff smartly presented. The agent had knowledge of the UAE but had not booked Grand Prix tickets before. The first quote was well over budget at £1,917 per person. This was for a five-night trip, with Emirates flights from Heathrow on November 21, staying at the Bab Al Qasr Hotel in Abu Dhabi, with three people in two rooms, plus F1 tickets. However, the agent searched again and sourced a five-night trip to Dubai, with Emirates flights from Gatwick, staying at the Ramada Plaza Jumeirah – only an extra half hour from the race track – for £1,191 each. The agent showed enthusiasm to find the best deal for a type of holiday she’d never booked before.

Tui
63 Church Walk, Burgess Hill
79%
This shop was poorly presented, with cigarette butts outside and a not very exciting main display. But staff were neat and professional, and I was greeted with a smile. A five-night Tui trip, with Emirates flights from Heathrow to Dubai on November 21, staying in two rooms at the Ibis hotel, transfers and a race day pass, cost £1,140 per person. The same trip but staying at the The Bonnington was £1,450 each. The agent listened well.

Hays Travel
11 Keymer Road, Hassocks
71%
This shop was very clean and had deals in the windows. The agent had not booked a trip like this before and quickly found that flights to Abu Dhabi were expensive. Using Travel 2, the agent sourced a five-night trip to Abu Dhabi, flying Etihad from Heathrow and staying B&B at the Sheraton, for £911 each, or at the Novotel for £922, but without F1 tickets or transfers. Despite the agent’s efforts, these weren’t the full package.


Winning agent

Jo Somerville, travel consultant

“With sporting events you are restricted on dates. We have Thomas Cook Sports, which we can use to sell tickets as packages. The hotels in Dubai were almost as close, so it seemed a good option to keep within budget.”


Verdict

Thomas Cook and Tui’s agents thought outside the box and looked at flights to and hotels in Dubai to bring the cost down and meet a challenging budget for an F1 booking.


Elite resorts caribbean

Top-scoring agent each month will win use of a car for 10 days.

The winning agent must be at least 25, for insurance reasons. Winners under 25 will win a week’s all-inclusive holiday at an Elite Islands Resorts property. The prize is non-transferable and the car must be driven only by the winning agent. The winner must not have any serious driving convictions. Elite Island Resorts will endeavour to supply the car to the agency but reserves the right to request the winning agent to collect and return the car from Essex or a central location

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