Mystery Shopper

Mystery Shopper

Publicity over terrorist problems in Turkey caught the attention of Mystery Shopper, who feared she may have to change her plans to book a late deal in September. She called on agents in the Surrey villages of Esher and Cobham for help. All the agents said there were no problems with Turkey despite Foreign Office advice warning visitors to be aware of the potential for terrorist attacks. The Suncity agent was the most impressive.

*****

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

 

Suncity Travel, 19 Oakdene Parade, Cobham

**** Winner

There were two consultants on duty in this neatly decorated agency. I was assured there were no problems in Turkey.

At the same time, she agreed some people had been put off by the recent publicity and Turkey was not as busy as in previous years and it would be safe to hang on until nearer our departure date to get a good deal.

She checked her file of faxes to see if there was anything around at the moment, and mentioned Tapestry as a company which usually came through with some good offers, but found nothing.

She said if anything came in, she would put it aside for me. She gave me a selection of brochures which would give me an idea of what was available. She picked out Airtours Turkey, Sunquest Turkey and Savile's Turkish Collection.

I asked if all the operators were pretty much the same and she said they were, even though there is certainly a big difference in the market targeted by Airtours and Sunquest and Savile. Nevertheless, the consultant was enthusiastic and helpful, and keen to find me a good bargain.

* Agency appearance

* Product knowledge

* Staff attitude

* Brochure racking

Thomas Cook, 11 High Street, Esher

***

There were three consultants in a cheerfully decorated agency with empty-looking brochure racks. I was served immediately and was assured there were no problems with Turkey and that the problems were all in abeyance while the terrorist leader was awaiting sentence.

She told me the week in September we planned to go was still considered high season. She suggested I come back four weeks beforehand and they would check availability and if there were lots of holidays around, then I would be safe to hang on a bit longer.

She gave me the First Choice Turkey brochure and Thomas Cook Holidays overbranded brochure operated by Sunworld.

* Agency appearance

* Product knowledge

* Brochure racking

The Travel Professionals, 64 High Street, Esher

***

This smartly decorated agency had an extensive selection of brochures. There were three consultants on duty and I was served by one who said there was no problem with Turkey and the Foreign Office was saying that everything was okay.

A colleague mentioned that Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan had been sentenced to death for treason and that was what had sparked concern, but said that there should be no reason to worry.

Noting that I wanted a late deal, she pointed out the prices in September might not be as good as prices in May or June. She suggested I take some brochures. She recommended Tapestry as a good company, and Jewel of Turkey.

* Agency appearance

* Staff attitude

* Brochure racking

Cobham Travel Service, 11 High Street, Cobham

***

There was one consultant on duty in this tidy-looking agency which had a good selection of brochures on the racks.

I had a short wait behind one customer, but was served within a couple of minutes by a consultant who immediately assured me that Turkey was safe to visit despite the bad publicity.

She asked if I wanted to check availability now, but I said I would wait until nearer the time.

The consultant gave me a selection of brochures and she suggested Unijet's dedicated Turkey brochure and Manos Greece Turkey Cyprus Portugal and Spain brochure.

She suggested I call back if I needed further assistance.

* Agency appearance

* Staff attitude

* Brochure racking

Top tips for agents

Tip 1: Bad publicity concerning popular summer sun destinations will lead to concerned customers asking for your advice, so always keep up to date with current affairs.

Tip 2: Check Foreign Office travel advice regularly so you can give customers the latest information

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