Location: Luton
Wanted: A young couple want to go to the Indian Ocean for a holiday but not sure what would suit them best. They like the idea of Mauritius, the Maldives or the Seychelles but not sure which would be better value or suit their needs – and are happy to hear about alternatives. They would like to be in a lively resort that would suit younger travellers and need advice on the best time of year to go and they’re flexible about when they go.
Budget: £4,500

Thomas Cook
72 George Street
84%

Impression: The shop was clean and brightly-lit with smart staff, colourful posters and enticing offers.

Service: I spoke to an agent immediately, who asked lots of open questions about preferences, accommodation and flights. The agent was focused on me and genuinely wanted to find the best holiday – suggesting ways of saving money and finding a direct flight each way. The agent knew a lot about the resorts and times to visit, and recommended Mauritius as the liveliest of the three destinations – although the other agents I visited said all three destinations were rather quiet. There was no attempt to close the sale and I was not offered any extras.

Quotes: Both were all-inclusive 10-night Thomas Cook holidays in September, flying from Heathrow with Air Mauritius to Mauritius. The first would be staying at Outrigger Beach Resort, for £4,383. The agent said this was the most popular five-star hotel they booked in Mauritius. The second would be Ambre Hotel for £4,100. I was told this was another beachside hotel that was very popular and had great facilities.

Overall: The agent was helpful, enthusiastic and unhurried. They took the most time and care in finding a holiday to match the shopper’s needs.

Double S Travel
118 Talbot Road, Roundgreen
75%

Impression: The shop was clean but posters were rather unimaginative – although the offers were quite enticing. The employee was casually dressed but quite smart.

Service: I spoke to an agent immediately but was not asked many questions. I was told all the destinations were quite quiet and were more suitable for honeymooners than lively young people. I was told that August onwards would be a better time to visit, as it would avoid the monsoon season. They said Mauritius was the liveliest of the three destinations I mentioned. No attempt was made to close the sale and no additional products were offered.

Quotes: Both quotes were for a 10-night holiday with Beachcomber Tours in August, flying from Heathrow with Air Mauritius to Mauritius. We would be staying at Shandrani Beachcomber Resort & Spa, on an all-inclusive basis in a superior room, with minibus transfers. The cost in August would be £6,288 and in September it would be £4,496, bringing it into budget. I felt the recommendation would have suited my requirements.

Overall: The agent was pleasant and pointed out the fact that the Indian Ocean destinations were quite quiet. However, the shopper felt the agent could have asked more questions and shown a bit more enthusiasm.

BM Travel Centre
13 The Arcade, Leagrave Road
58%

Impression: The windows were clean but there were letters missing from the sign, which looked scruffy. The window displays were generic holiday pictures and seemed a bit tired. The agent was casually dressed but quite smart.

Service: I spoke to an agent immediately but they did not seem very interested. They didn’t ask many questions so I had to volunteer information. They took my email address and phone number but didn’t ask my name. They said they would research holidays and email quotes. I received one but had to ask for the second one. There was no attempt to close the sale and or offer additional products.

Quotes: Both were for seven nights in October flying from Heathrow. The first was with Air Mauritius, and staying at Le Ravenala Attitude in Mauritius, on an all-inclusive basis, with transfers, for £3,840. An upgrade to the executive seafront adult suite would bring the cost to £4,370. The second was flying with British Airways to the Seychelles, staying at Kempinski Seychelles Resort on a half-board basis with a transfer. The cost would be £5,060. The agent said the resorts were not that lively.

Overall: The agent was polite but not enthusiastic and the shopper did not feel their custom was valued.


Winning agent

Daniel Wilson, branch manager, Thomas Cook

The Indian Ocean is not a regular request for our shop, it’s quite unusual. I’ve not been but I know about destinations because of what I’ve heard from other members of staff, customers, and what I’ve learned through in-house training. Mauritius would have suited them because it has more activities. 


Verdict

The Thomas Cook agent put a great deal of effort into their research and service, producing suitable quotes and advice.

The shopper felt the Double S Travel agent could have been a bit more enthusiastic.

The experience in BM Travel Centre was well below par, with the agent seeming not to care if the shopper bought a holiday or not.


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