Mystery Shopper

Mystery Shopper

Mystery Shopper was planning a trip stateside when she called on agents in the Scottish town of Irvine. Her partner was going on a business trip to Chicago and she wanted to take the children out and join him for a seven-night stay. The Going Places consultant was the most thorough and the only one to encourage us to return.

*****

Each week, Mystery Shopper will be calling on agents in different areas. Stars are awarded to agents which score for:

* Agency appearance

* Product knowledge

* Staff attitude

* Brochure racking

* Sales technique

The top-scoring agency each week receives a Travel Weekly certificate of commendation

Please note that no additional information will be given about Mystery Shopper's visits

Going Places, 2 Bridgegate, Irvine

****

There was one consultant on duty in this busy agency which had well-stocked brochure racks.

There were three clients ahead of me so I had to wait 10mins before another consultant came out from the back office and things started to move. Finally it was my turn.

After hearing my enquiry, the consultant checked if we needed accommodation too. I said we didn't.

She told us it would be cheapest to take a non-direct flight and went straight into the system and checked flights from United Airlines. She came up with a flight to Chicago from Glasgow via Washington which cost £387 for the adult fare and £305.80 for the child fare. She did a printout with an itinerary and cost and was the only agent to give a total cost.

She also checked the fares from Air France on services from Glasgow to Charles De Gaulle and from Paris to Chicago. The adult fare for this flight was £452 and the child fare was £311. Also gave me a total cost and printout. She handed them over and suggested I return when I wanted to make a booking.

* Agency appearance

* Staff attitude

* Brochure racking

* Product knowledge

Kings World Travel, 19 Bank Street, Irvine

***

This was an attractive looking agency with well-stocked brochure racks.

I was served immediately by a consultant who said American Airlines would probably be the cheapest.

She said the system for checking flights had just been installed and was not working at the moment.

She telephoned what I assumed was a central office for fares information for the agency and quoted me a fare of £378 for adults from Glasgow to Chicago and £189 for the child fare. She also quoted the £47.50 tax per person. She asked if other carriers were cheaper and was assured that this was the cheapest fare. She did not suggest we return to make the booking. Efficient but did not appear interested.

There were five consultants on duty - two were free and I was asked straight away if I needed assistance. The brochure supplies were running low.

The consultant was a trainee so she asked for the details of the trip and then the information was passed to a more senior colleague who dealt with my query very efficiently.

She wrote out details of Glasgow to Chicago fare with American Airlines on headed notepaper. It worked out at £411 plus £44 tax and £11 passenger service charge for adults. The child fare was 50% of the adult fare. The Air France fare for adults with the flight via Paris worked out at £347, including the tax and charge and the child rate was 70% of the adult fare. Very helpful but no encouragement to return.

* Agency appearance

* Staff attitude

* Product knowledge

Thomas Cook, 21 Rivergate, Irvine

***

There were five consultants on duty - two were free and I was asked straight away if I needed assistance. The brochure supplies were running low.

The consultant was a trainee so she asked for the details of the trip and then the information was passed to a more senior colleague who dealt with my query very efficiently.

She wrote out details of Glasgow to Chicago fare with American Airlines on headed notepaper. It worked out at £411 plus £44 tax and £11 passenger service charge for adults. The child fare was 50% of the adult fare. The Air France fare for adults with the flight via Paris worked out at £347, including the tax and charge and the child rate was 70% of the adult fare. Very helpful but no encouragement to return.

* Agency appearance

* Staff attitude

* Product knowledge

Lunn Poly, 43 Rivergate, Irvine

**

The agency was very neat with three consultants on duty who were all were busy so I looked at the brochure racks which appeared to be very low on supplies.

I was served after 5mins by a consultant who immediately suggested flying direct with American Airlines from Glasgow.

She quoted me a fare of £397 for adults and £221 for child. She also quoted me times for departure and arrival.

She said it was cheaper to fly direct than to travel via London or Amsterdam.

The consultant was very efficient at giving me the information on flights, but she was quite unfriendly and she didn't really encourage me to return to the agency when I was ready to make the booking.

* Agency appearance

* Product knowledge

Top Tips for Agents

Tip 1: Printouts look far more impressive than hand-written notes but make sure your technology is up to it.

Tip 2: When quoting fares, ensure you mention all the taxes. It makes a big difference to the price.

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