Mystery Shopper

Mystery Shopper

Hawaii was the planned destination for Mystery Shopper this week when she called on agents in Fareham in Hampshire. The holiday was for a couple celebrating a wedding anniversary. She said she was not sure if they would be travelling in November or February, and wanted to know if it made any difference when they went. The Lunn Poly agent impressed with her enthusiastic approach.

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.

Lunn Poly, 119a West Street, Fareham

***** Winner

Four consultants on duty in tidy, bright looking agency. Served immediately by bubbly consultant who first checked when we intended travelling.

I said that it would be November or February and the consultant checked weather chart in the Kuoni brochure, pointing out that temperatures, rainfall and humidity were the same in both months. Agency only had brochures with November prices.

Picked out United Vacations brochure and flicked through the pages with me, indicating the choice of islands. She mentioned we could get hotel vouchers so we could travel around, and also highlighted cruise around Hawaiian islands.

She was very enthusiastic about the destination and appeared very interested in the enquiry and asked if it was a special occasion. When I said it was an anniversary, she said they could probably do something to mark that as well.

Gave me her card and said I should read the brochure and come back when I knew the exact dates. Impressive service. I would definitely have returned to book.

* Agency appearance

* Product knowledge

* Staff attitude

* Brochure racking

* Sales technique

Davis World Travel, 23 West Street, Fareham

****

Small and neat agency with well-stocked brochure racks.

One consultant on duty with no customers so I was served immediately. He picked out Funway USA and United Vacations America and Hawaii brochures as the best options for me. Explained that both operators had a good section on Hawaii but did not go through brochures with me.

He told me most flights went through Las Vegas - did he mean to say Los Angeles?

Then proceeded to give a very good sales pitch on the agency's tailor-made expertise and said the brochures should be used as a guideline.

He suggested I take the brochures away, study them and come back when I knew exactly what we wanted.

* Agency appearance

* Staff attitude

* Brochure racking

* Sales technique

Going Places, 2/4 Thackeray Shopping Centre, Fareham

*

Three consultants on duty - two were huddled over a terminal and one was at the brochure racks, which were running low on supplies.

The consultant I asked looked puzzled and then checked the First Choice Tropical brochure. She appeared baffled that Hawaii did not feature.

She then indicated the space where Airtours Far and Away brochure should be racked and said that it would definitely be in that brochure but they were out of stock at the moment.

I was told more supplies would arrive next week and to call back then. It would have been a wasted journey if I had bothered - the consultant did not think to check the America brochure, which should have been the obvious first stop.

* Agency appearance

Thomas Cook, Fareham Shopping Centre, 38 Westbury Mall, Fareham

*

Three consultants on duty in an agency which looked neat but where the brochure holders were empty. My consultant was free but seemed a bit rushed.

On hearing my enquiry she said that the best operators for Hawaii were Kuoni and Virgin, but the shop did not have brochures in stock at the moment.

She asked if I was in Fareham often and suggested that I popped back next week to get brochures as they were expecting new supplies any day now.

When I asked about flights there, the consultant informed me I would have to fly via Los Angeles. The service was friendly but would have been more impressed if the consultant had offered to call me when the brochures were in.

* Agency appearance

Top tips for agents

Tip 1: If your geography is shaky, check with a colleague which brochure to consult rather than making a silly gaffe.

Tip 2: Checking when the client is travelling and who is the party shows interest and is likely to make people want to book.

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