Mystery shopper: York, a trip to Washington DC in spring

Mystery shopper: York, a trip to Washington DC in spring

Location: York
Wanted: A couple who have been to the US before want to sample Washington in the spring, see a bit of the region, hire a car and spend at least three nights in DC as part of a holiday of up to two weeks, depending on budget.
Budget: £4,000 (flex by up to £500)

Wallace Arnold Travel
12-13 Colliergate
90%
The shop was clean and tidy and I was assisted as soon as an agent was available. A friendly and enthusiastic agent showed me a Gold Medal brochure and suggested four nights in central Washington at the Holiday Inn, room only, followed by 10 nights’ in Charlottesville and 11 days car hire, picking up from the city centre and dropping it at the airport. Flights were with Lufthansa and Air India (check) from Manchester via Frankfurt and the total cost was £3,872. The agent was not sure on some of the drive times but googled the routes and was willing to make further inquiries and send excursion ideas over email. I was also sent a quote via email and told I could change the itinerary or add things before we made the final booking.

Thomas Cook
9 Nessgate
64%
The branch was well-presented but the agent could have been more enthusiastic. I was only given the option of flying from London to Washington and staying there for 10 days at the Kimpton Topaz, room only, for £4,226.87 departing Heathrow on April 10 with Delta. The agent told me I would need to work out an itinerary myself, including car hire. I was given two good brochures, including Thomas Cook’s USA and Canada, but no advice on where to visit. The agency seemed good for people who know exactly where they want to go but not to help a customer put a holiday together.

Hays Travel
14 Low Ousegate
53%
On first visit, I was told to return in half an hour but couldn’t wait that long so revisited at a later date. The shop was neat and I was welcomed by a smiling agent. But they told me I needed a clearer idea of my itinerary, write down where I wanted to go and how long I’d stay in each destination – then they said they’d ring a specialist and book it for me. They didn’t ask many questions, no quote or price guide was given and I left with a North America Travel Service brochure.


Winning agent

Helen Yates, travel consultant

“We always try and find out exactly what the customer is looking for and help them plan their perfect trip. We do sell America but I’ve never been to Washington, so I’m happy and shocked to win but you’ve made my day.”


Verdict

Wallace Arnold’s attention to detail and willingness to help plan the itinerary stood them head and shoulders above their local competitors, who aasked the customer to do the legwork.


Elite resorts caribbean

Top-scoring agent each month will win use of a car for 10 days.

The winning agent must be at least 25, for insurance reasons. Winners under 25 will win a week’s all-inclusive holiday at an Elite Islands Resorts property. The prize is non-transferable and the car must be driven only by the winning agent. The winner must not have any serious driving convictions. Elite Island Resorts will endeavour to supply the car to the agency but reserves the right to request the winning agent to collect and return the car from Essex or a central location

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