The brief: Mystery Shopper had a £7,000 budget for two for a trip to Argentina, thinking a day’s dance tutorial would be a great experience. They weren’t sure of the different dance types available, and whether it is suitable for salsa – could the agent help them?
Verdict: Well done to Sevenoaks Travel and Billington Travel agents their good knowledge of the dance styles of South America and recommending a Tango tutorial. Go Travel would have scored more for a more detailed consultation, while Thomas Cook struggled.
114 High Street
A consultant greeted me immediately and asked if I was looking for anything specific. She was polite and friendly. However, I was simply told that Thomas Cook couldn’t organise a tour of Argentina that included a dance tutorial.
The consultant didn’t do any research other than go to the back of the store to see if they had any relevant brochures. She didn’t discuss any other options that might be available, and I wasn’t given a brochure containing Argentina product. She advised me to do some research on the internet.
On a positive note, Thomas Cook was the only shop where the agent made the effort to come over to me. In the other agencies consultants called from their desks.
12 Tubs Hill Parade
Clear windows gave this agency a pleasing appearance. Both employees were wearing company branded polo shirts and looked well presented. They were in mid-conversation when I walked in and finish talking before I was offered any help.
When it came to the consultation, they came across as uninterested. Despite this, they did recommended four tour operators, including Kuoni and Travel2, saying they might be able to give me the flexibility the holiday required.
The consultant I mainly dealt with didn’t appear to have any knowledge of Argentina, asking if it was in the Latin America brochures. I asked for prices twice, but they didn’t offer to price anything up. However they said they were sure they could arrange a dance tutorial.
It was the best looking of the agencies, and the staff were quite friendly, but I wouldn’t feel confident booking this holiday with them.
4-5 Dorset Street
The agent here was friendly and talked about South America with great enthusiasm. She suggested a tailor-made tour and said she was confident she could put together a package within budget.
She had a good knowledge of the different dance types of Latin America, saying tango is the best style to learn in Argentina. She suggested the holiday take in Brazil if I was interested in salsa, recommending Rio.
She recommended Travel 2, saying the operator could tailor-make the trip. But when I said I was interested in going to the Southern-most city in Argentina, she asked me what was there and said she wasn’t sure it was worth a visit.
Nevertheless, overall the consultant was honest, friendly and helpful. She gave the impression of being interested in her job and selling each customer the holiday they wanted.
1 White Hart Parade
The shop was spotlessly clean, but did look a little dated. The consultant serving was very polite and extremely helpful, really taking her time to get the information needed.
She showed me the areas of Argentina and talked about different tour operators, providing a large number of brochures and explaining the differences between each one. She even suggested I take some time to sit on a sofa in the shop and look through the brochures.
The consultant called some operators to ask about dance tutorials, and said that a tango tutorial would be best in Argentina. The final quote was £6,210, with the agent recommending operators including Sunvil, Veloso, Cox and Kings and Titan Hi Tours.
This agent really tried hard to deliver what I wanted. I would feel very confident booking a holiday through them.
- Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires is the birthplace of tango, a sensual and dramatic dance that originated in the city’s working class slums in the 1890s. These days, tango displays can be seen all over the city. There is a dinner and tango show at the intimate back room of Café Tortoni, on Avenida de Mayo, one of the world’s oldest coffee shop, which opened in 1858.
- A search on Gazetteers.com, looking within the special interest section of the Argentina section lists operators and gives downloadable brochures of those who feature dancing holidays to Argentina – Hayes and Jarvis, Kuoni and Travel 2.
- As an example, Travel 2 offers an eight night break in Buenos Aires, Argentina sampling culture and Tango from £1,769 per person based on two people sharing and return flights. The price includes a four day ‘Learn to Tango’ which includes city sightseeing, a guided tour when guests have the chance to learn about the history of Tango through the ages, Tango lessons each evening and the finale is a visit to one of Buenos Aires’ premier Tango clubs for travel in September.
- Argentina is 15.5 hours flying with British Airways with stopover in Brazil. Iberia operates twice a day and Aerolineas Argentinas daily from Madrid.
- According to experts at Journey Latin America, Argentina is not the absolute bargain it used to be, but for a tourist it’s still good value – you can eat really well, take taxis and sample fine wines for a lot less than in the Europe. In terms of climate, they suggest visiting Buenos Aires in April and October, when there are lovely crisp mornings and pleasantly warm days. In general, most of its clients travel between October and May.
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