Mystery Shopper: Bishop's Stortford travel agents tested on a Med cruise

Mystery Shopper: Bishop's Stortford travel agents tested on a Med cruise

Brief: A couple would like to spend a fortnight cruising in the Med for their honeymoon this autumn. They want time in Italy and the Greek islands, but have never cruised before and want plenty of expert input from the agent.

Budget: £5,000.

Verdict: The winning agent knew her stuff, used personal experiences to sell and added elements to make the honeymooners feel special.


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Premier Travel Agency


Premier Travel Agency, 2A Market Square, Bishops Stortford2A Market Square
Score:
68%

The agent was polite but I didn’t feel we built up a rapport. She did not ask many questions beyond destination, dates and who was travelling, and seemed focused on finding a cruise to fit those, rather than exploring other aspects.

She looked at several brochures and offered me Princess Cruises’ 12-day Greek Isles and the Mediterranean including flights for £4,498, departing September 13.

While I didn’t feel rushed, it didn’t seem like she had a great deal of time for me, and I wasn’t given a huge amount of information on the ship, cabins, facilities or excursions.

First Choice


First Choice, 9A Market Square, Bishops Stortford9A Market Square
Score:
81%

I was greeted within seconds of entering by a friendly agent who was easy to chat to. She asked if I had a cruised before and whether I was looking for a small or large ship, but didn’t check my budget or what facilities I wanted.

She seemed to know her stuff and gave me ideas straight away. She offered me Princess Cruises’ 12-day Greek Isles and the Mediterranean itinerary including flights for £4,298 departing September 13.

I was given a brochure, quote and business card, but would have liked more detail on the cruise and ship.

Thomas Cook


Thomas Cook, 27-28 Jackson Square, Bishops Stortford27-28 Jackson Square
Score:
89%

This agency had a relaxed atmosphere, and I didn’t feel rushed at any stage. The agent spent plenty of time looking for a suitable cruise and asked lots of questions.

We looked at a few options and she explained how some of my needs were met by certain options over others. She took a real interest in my enquiry, and when she discovered it was my first cruise gave tips on the best cabins and dining.

She offered me Princess Cruise’s 12-day Grand Mediterranean itinerary on Ruby Princess including flights for £3,398 departing September 1 and £3,894 departing September 13.

This was a good experience but I would have liked more detail on excursions.

Thomson


Thomson, 35 Potter Street, Bishops Stortford35 Potter Street
Score:
92%

The agent here asked all the right questions and used her own cruise experience to bring the holiday to life. She had excellent product knowledge and used the brochures to highlight information.

When she had a problem with her computer she just rang the cruise line to find out more. She recommended Princess Cruises’ 12-day Grand Mediterranean itinerary, which she offered for £3,398 departing on September 1.

She highlighted aspects of the cruise that would make the honeymoon feel special, and suggested flowers for the cabin.

She highlighted the limited availability of a certain cabin grade to incentivise me to book soon, and talked about airport hotels, car hire and insurance. She mentioned excursions but didn’t go into detail – the only missing element of my visit.

Helena Sell, travel adviser at Thomson, Bishops Stortford Winning agent: Helena Sell, travel adviser

“I started out at Thomson as an apprentice three years ago. I’ve been on a couple of cruises since then to the Canaries and Dubai, and really enjoyed it. At 22, I’m a bit younger than the average cruise passenger, but I wouldn’t say no to another one!”

 

Med cruise tips

 

  • The Mediterranean is one of the world’s most diverse cruise regions, with a wide range of itineraries on different-sized ships, from big resort-style vessels to luxury yachts.
  • A dip in US passenger numbers to the Med this year has resulted in cruise lines offering keen prices in the UK, so it’s a great time to upsell clients to a premium cruise product.
  • Next year, NCL will have three ships in the Med, and Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth will be operating an inaugural season of 12-night Med fly-cruises between August and December.
  • If the cruise is for a honeymoon, remember to add a few extras such as flowers and champagne in the cabin to make the experience extra special.

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