Mystery Shopper

Mystery Shopper

Mystery Shopper called on agents in London's Victoria this week in search of advice about a golf holiday. The main difference was that she and her partner wanted a European package which would include tuition for beginners. This factor proved a stumbling block for retailers but the Kenwood Travel consultant impressed with her dogged efforts to find a suitable option for the amateur golfers.

*****

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

Kenwood Travel, 69 Wilton Road, Victoria

**** Winner

THIS was an attractive, spacious looking agency with masses of brochures on the racks. There were three consultants on duty. I was served immediately by consultant who, in common with the other agents, was initially uncertain.

She picked out the Cresta Golf in France brochure and flicked through it but found no details on starter holidays.

She called the operator but was advised by one of its reservations people that I should call the resort direct. That seemed very peculiar advice from an operator.

She then checked the British Airways Holidays Club Golf brochure, but again could find no reference to tuition for beginners. She called BAH and kept chatting to me while the telephone was ringing.

Eventually, she decided it was pointless hanging on. She returned to the brochure and scoured it more carefully, but the search was in vain. She had now spent so long on this that we both decided I should take the brochures away and have a look at home. She urged me to return if I needed more help.

* Agency appearance

* Sales technique

* Staff attitude

* Brochure racking

American Express, 102/104 Victoria Street, Victoria

***

This very large agency had a bustling bureau de change. The consultant was somewhat surprised by a request for a golf holiday for beginners. She checked in the OAG guide but could find nothing to help out.

The Cresta Golf in France brochure contained a paragraph at the front about golf tuition and the range of courses available for beginners.

She said this brochure would be helpful, but as it only featured France she picked out the Longshot Golf Holidays brochure for a wider choice of destinations.

She found a Learn to Play section which gave details of holidays in Spain, Tenerife, the Algarve and Lisbon. She was pleased to find something fitting my request, but did not ask if I wanted to book it.

* Agency appearance

* Staff attitude

* Product knowledge

Thomas Cook, 100 Victoria Street, Victoria

**

The agency was quite large and its brochure folders were very depleted. Six consultants were on duty.

Only two were busy with customers so I was served immediately. My consultant seemed slightly phased by the request for a holiday for complete beginners.

She went to the back office and returned with Cresta Golf in France brochure, telling me this was the best programme on the market.

I checked that it catered for starters in the game and was assured that was the case, even though the consultant made no attempt to go through brochure with me to prove the fact.

Although the service was pleasant, the consultant appeared inexperienced when it came to following up requests.

* Agency appearance

* Staff attitude

Flight Option, 28 Church Street, Victoria

No stars awarded

This medium-sized agency was somewhat cluttered in appearance. When I called in, one of the two consultants was about to have lunch at her desk and she looked most irritated at my arrival.

On hearing my request she led me to the brochure racks where she picked out a particular brochure called Golf Options.

The consultant said the operator was affiliated to the shop and it was best to call them direct.

I asked if the company catered for people who were learning the game, and again she repeated that I should call them myself.

I felt as if I was being bundled out of the door by the consultant. I hope her lunch was worth it!

No stars awarded

Top tips for agents

Tip 1: Having lunch at your desk is fine if your office is not open to the public - customers don't really want to see you chomp your way through a BLT when asking for assistance.

Tip 2: Calling the operator direct to check on something in the brochure is a nice touch, but if you are left hanging on the line any longer than 5mins, don't leave the customer waiting around. Offer to call the customer later with the information.

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