An older couple, both Elvis fans, want to take in the musical sights of Memphis. All agents managed to come up with a quote, but Mystery Shopper was looking for the agent to go the extra mile to find something within budget, which Thomas Cook didn’t appear to be able to deliver.


Once again, personal advice and expertise won the day, with the Thomas Cook agent praised for the Visa advice and the American Express agent winning by sharing her own experiences.



 


Wallace Arnold Worldchoice, 62 George Street, Croydon Wallace Arnold Worldchoice


62 George Street
Score:
53%


There were a lot of chairs in this agency, which crowded the floor. The brochure display was extensive, but there didn’t appear to be a particular order, so I had difficulty working out where an appropriate brochure for Memphis would be found.


I was ignored by the staff for six minutes, including those dressing a window. When I finally sat down in a spare chair, one of the consultants who had just finished serving a previous customer greeted me. I didn’t feel valued as a customer. She didn’t ask basic questions such as budget or length of stay.


She put together a package costing £1,667 for two people, flying with Continental Airlines, staying at the Heartbreak Hotel and including passes to various sights. She wasn’t able to tell me the distance between the hotel and the city centre, or offer me alternative locations.


I would have liked details of local travel costs to get to the attractions, and the consultant also thought having a short wait between connecting flights would be an advantage, however it could have been a hurried start to a holiday given baggage collection and check-in.


 


The Co-operative Travel, 91 George Street, Croydon The Co-operative Travel


91 George Street
Score:
59%


This agency was squeezed into a corner of the local Co-operative Bank branch, however it was neatly presented. I was acknowledged as soon as I approached the desk, with the consultant making good eye contact and smiling. However she was very quiet and I had to strain to hear her at times.


She didn’t ask about budget and assumed I was looking for a seven day holiday. Her first instinct was to offer a package, but I said this was too expensive. She struggled a little to work out a tailor made holiday and appeared a little lost as to what else I might do in Memphis apart from the Graceland and studios tours, for which they recommended an inclusive pass.


The quote was £1,950 for two people, flying with United Airlines and staying at Red Roof Hotel Memphis. I would have liked a better presented itinerary, rather than hand written notes on a compliments slip and a copy of the Thomas Cook brochure.


 


Thomas Cook, 96-98 North End, CroydonThomas Cook


96-98 North End
Score:
77%


It was a big shop, but most of the sales desks were unstaffed. At the start of the enquiry, the consultant explained that they have a North America specialist at the branch, but they weren’t available.


She did ask my budget, but was unable to meet it as she was restricted to the narrow selection in the Thomas Cook brochure, coming up with two suggestions – neither of which included a hotel I was happy with.


The quote was £2,172 for Thomas Cook Signature America, flying Intercontinental Airlines and staying at the Memphis Marriott Downtown. There seemed to be no mechanism for working out an independent itinerary.


She gave me a full rundown of the US visa process, which was useful. She mentioned a full range of options and upgrades, including limo transfers and car hire. The agent had good communication skills and tried to search out the best deal for me.


 


American Express Travel Services, 2 High Street, CroydonAmerican Express Travel Services


2 High Street
Score:
79%


I was a little confused as to the name of this agency, as I had thought it was called Kanoo Travel, but the Kanoo branding on the frontage is dominated by American Express logos. I was greeted with a ‘hi there’ as soon as I entered.


The consultant gave me her full attention, recalling anecdotes concerning her own trip to the US. She looked at several options for flights and suggested I book excursions at the destination as they had found it was cheaper than pre booking in the UK.


She worked out a deal loosely based on the Gold Medal brochure, costing £1,547.34, staying at the Red Roof Hotel and flying Northwest Airlines.


The agent was friendly, professional and spent considerable time and effort working out the best package available. She was effusive about the request and managed to meet my needs well within the budget. This was head and shoulders above the other visits.


 


Tips: Selling Memphis



  1. If you want to see lots of different musical attractions, many operators offer a single ticket that offers a discounted entry price. For example, Thomas Cook Signature offers the Memphis Music Pass from £42 per adult or £20 for a child. The pass gets visitors into Graceland, The Rock N Soul MuseumStax Museum of American Soul Music and Sun Studio
  2. Be aware that the anniversary of Elvis’s birth (January 8) and death (August 16) are peak visitor times, so if customers want to visit over these dates, they need to book well in advance.
  3. The actual downtown area is quite small, so easily walkable. Suggest clients catch The Main Street Trolley, ,which operates vintage restored trams, and stops off at a variety of attractions including Main Street and the National Civil Rights Museum and the Riverfront along the Mississippi River. 
  4. Heartbreak Hotel is opposite Graceland, so perfect for Elvis fans, but there are no other attractions around there, so if visitors want to take advantage of the blues clubs around Beale Street in the evenings, they are better off staying downtown.  
  5. For more information on hotels in Memphis, visit Gazetters.com.