Brief: A family with two young children are looking for a week on the coast. They want plenty of activities to keep the kids amused, so are thinking of a holiday park, but they need advice on where to go and what else they can do when they get there.
Budget: Budget: £2,000.
Verdict: The winning agent was bursting with enthusiasm and suggested other activities in the area.
Winner: Thomas Cook
88 Abingdon Street
This agency gave a good impression as staff were smartly dressed and the shop was neat and tidy with a well-stocked brochure display. The agent greeted me straightaway and went through what I wanted in detail, asking lots of questions. She mentioned Butlins as a possible option quite quickly.
She was very enthusiastic and seemed keen to make sure she found the right package for me, recommending the Wave Hotel at Butlins Bognor Regis on a premium dining package for £1,708 from July 23. This suited my needs perfectly, and was the best price I was given.
I was also very impressed by the agent’s knowledge of the resort and her patience in going through the brochure, pointing out things that might be of interest and suggesting other attractions in the area. I would feel very confident about booking here or recommending this agency to family and friends.
Winning agent: Sophie Nicholson, apprentice travel consultant
“I studied travel and tourism at school and was really interested in it – I’d love to travel the world myself. I love trying to find the dream holiday for customers, and I really enjoy working with my team as well.”
8A Abingdon Street
A polite member of staff offered to help me as soon as I entered, and was friendly throughout our conversation. The agent was quite enthusiastic and asked lots of questions about what I wanted. The assistant was very knowledgeable and came up with a quote of £2,181 for a week in Butlins Bognor Regis, staying in the Wave Hotel, on a premium dining basis, from July 28.
It was a good package which met all my requirements. But the agent did not check other dates to see if it the prices were lower, or stress the need to book quickly as I could see there were only a couple of these rooms left.
Northampton Travel Services
12 Harborough Road
I liked the look of this store: the window display was attractive and the employees well presented. A polite agent offered help as soon as I went in, but I didn’t feel we built up much rapport. I was asked the basic questions but had to volunteer a lot of information such as what kind of accommodation I wanted.
After a bit of research, the agent offered the same package as the others, starting on July 23 and costing £1,728, and gave me a Butlins brochure. This was a good package and within my budget, but the agent wasn’t as enthusiastic in bringing the holiday to life.
Want to know how you could have scored 100%? We look at some options to make Mystery Shopper's ideal itinerary
It’s easy to take the UK and Ireland for granted, but you need to know more than your customers to excel.
The three agents visited by Mystery Shopper recommended the same package, but the winner brought the trip to life with extensive knowledge of the resort and surrounding area.
Butlins’ three resorts remain a popular choice. Their seaside locations, in Minehead, Bognor Regis and Skegness, offer a vast range of family-friendly activities.
Stablemate Haven also has a wide variety of holiday parks dotted around the British coastline, each offering something different. Clients who want excitement can try the lively Primrose Valley in Yorkshire, which has its own funfair, while nature lovers can get away from it all at Quay West, which boasts stunning views of Cardigan Bay from its clifftop site on the Welsh coast.
Meanwhile, Pontins’ five coastal holiday parks offer activities such as go-karting, mountain biking, circus skills and crazy golf, allowing kids to try new things while mum and dad get a well-earned rest.
What to do
Recommendations for other activities can also be a big factor in closing a sale – as our Mystery Shopper found – and give agents a chance to earn extra commission.
For example, Bognor Regis boasts a beautiful beach and a long promenade perfect for a gentle stroll, but families can also try the miniature railway in Hotham Park. If they want to explore the area, suggest a day trip around historic Chichester, or offer to book a boat ride and tickets to the amusement park in nearby Littlehampton.
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