Interview articles for the Telegraph on Sunday
Each week I wrote articles promoting Saga’s expert Holiday Hunters for the Telegraph on Sunday. I interviewed all of Saga’s experts and came up with a hook for each article, before presenting the work as a finished piece. Often when interviewing people you don’t get the ‘sound bites’ you need, but by chatting to the interviewees in depth you can craft the copy to convey the essence of what they are saying.
Get your kicks on Route 66
Interview by Dianne Vanstone
Ingrained in the American psyche, Route 66 represents the spirit of adventure and is still a tantalising draw for visitors to America.
It was expert Holiday Hunter Chris Parker’s idea to do a tour that follows this iconic highway. “I was sitting at my desk and I had quite a few phone calls from the call centre asking if we had any tours which incorporate Route 66, or even touch upon the route. So that got me thinking why aren’t we doing a tour like that, and how can we make it better than our competitors and more suitable for our customers? Route 66 is such an iconic route and I knew our customers would love to experience the great American road trip for themselves. I got excited, and that was the acorn and it sprouted from there.”
From the rust belt to the sun belt, from Chicago to Los Angeles, Chris created a tour that covers an epic 2,400 miles, travels through eight states and crosses three time zones. As they travel along Route 66, Chris’ customers can enjoy highlights such as a cruise along the mighty Mississippi River, see the famous art installation ‘Cadillac Ranch’, stop at the ghost town of Glenrio, visit Albuquerque’s historic Old Town, stop at the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, take a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and try their luck in Las Vegas.
Chris knew he had to get this tour just right. “Firstly, I wanted the tour to start and finish in the right place,” he explains, “Officially it starts in Chicago but the official end is at the pier in Santa Monica, so I wanted to make sure that we went all the way to the pier as not everybody offers that. It seems crazy – there’s a sign that says ‘end of the trail’, so how can you do Route 66 and then not go to the pier? It’s the final sign off to say you’ve done the whole route.”
“Secondly, I wanted our guest to have the freedom to dine out in the local restaurants and cafes wherever it was possible. The feedback we get from our customers is that while it’s nice to know that meals are included, it doesn’t give people the choice to go out on their own. On this tour they can sit in a traditional diner, order a hamburger and be a part of Americana. All the hotels we stay at are close to restaurants, cafes and bars.”
“And thirdly, getting the pace just right was essential,” he explains, “this is an itinerary where I could be really imaginative and visit some great sights, it certainly isn’t about racking up the miles. I know that our customers like to really get to the heart of the places they are visiting, and so I’ve made sure we spend two nights in most places so they can see the sights and do amazing things such as taking a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon, something I experienced for myself and absolutely loved.”
Although no longer the main artery across America, Route 66 still manages to retain its mystique. “I got a thrill from seeing the rusty truck stops, huge billboards and neon signs and I think our customers will too. This was the road which John Steinbeck called ‘The Mother Road’ which has featured in so many films, books and songs it just blows you away because it’s so iconic. On this tour our customers don’t miss a thing.”
“Route 66 is such a quintessential part of America,” explains Chris, “and I know it would appeal to our customers who want adventure, and to experience something completely different. I think it’s a really exciting tour.”