How Instagram is changing the way we travel

An important development in travel for Australians happened quietly over recent weeks.

‘Worldwide Community’, a leading international Instagram group, opened its first ‘hub’ in the country @ww_australia – providing a whole new field of destination inspiration for travellers.

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The extroadinary growth of Instagram – the fastest of any social platform – has changed the face of travel and has inherently altered the way travellers experience new things

Research shows almost 70% of travel enthusiasts worldwide now rely on Instagram to find inspiration for new journeys.

The impact of ‘Insta-tourism’ has forced the tourism sector to re-think strategies; directing marketing away from advertising toward the use of ‘instagram influencers’.

This is where Instagram hubs like @ww_australia come in.  There are thousands of them, containing hundreds-of-thousands of artists, photographers and influencers who feature travel, landscape, nature, wildlife, portraiture, cityscape and street images. 

People considering a holiday can easily see pictures of the most idyllic, traditional, cultural and  exciting attractions – so it’s little surprise that travel behavior is changing as a result.

Because people engage with Instagram 10 times more than with Facebook, for example, travel and accommodation brands have moved onboard in huge numbers, providing more visual content that connects to our innate desire to discover and experience.

Attractions, increasingly, are also providing destinations with strong image potential, with the need for few, if any, words.

Worldwide Community is one of the most prestigious, influential, creative and fast-growing Instagram organisations – and features the work of some of the world’s best photographers and artists.

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Tips: another app that lists airfares

We’ve been getting questions about ‘I Know the Pilot’, another online service for saving money on airline bookings.

This is a notification service which says it is based in Melbourne, Australia –  and can operate either as an app on your mobile device; or as an email alert system; or a website. The service is also on several social media channels.

It draws your attention to airfare sales – and leaves the booking to you.  The service shows flight prices and dates on which the sales apply.

‘I Know the Pilot’ offers a list of partner booking sites. However, if you wish, there’s nothing to stop you going straight to the website of the airline said to be offering the deals.

But are the sales found by ‘I Know the Pilot’ really cheap?  I must stress that we are yet to use the service, but many of the offers do look attractive indeed.

For example, the App recently drew attention to return flights being offered by Air Asia between Sydney and Hong Kong next March – from $463.

The flights left Sydney on March 18 and Hong Kong on March 26.  However, it also clearly stated that 20 kilogram of checked baggage would add an additional $90.31 and seat selection carried a $34.12 fee.  This took the total price to at least $587.

In the same alert, ‘I Know the Pilot’ drew attention to return flights with Qantas on the same days for a total of $501, including baggage.

Even that sounded like a remarkably good price on that particular route. Despite checking 26 other online booking sites, we couldn’t find a deal to match it. 

So it seems the proof of ‘I Know the Pilot’ may be in the booking.

If we try it, we will let you know.

Meanwhile, registering for the email alerts doesn’t cost you a cent.

Finding cheap flights Tips travel

Huge revamp of transport in Sydney

Trains have started testing on Australia’s biggest public transport project – a massive modernisation and improvement of Sydney’s metro system.

New-generation trains – based on the international metropolis system used in 25 cities, including  Barcelona, Amsterdam and Singapore – are set to revolutionise Sydney travel from 2019.

They are being tested on the new SydneyMetro North-west rail system, which includes eight  new railway stations and 4,000 commuter car parking spaces in the city’s growing north-western area.

The new rail link, includes elevated  stations;  Australia’s biggest railway tunnels and the ‘Skytrain’ (pictured) between Bella Vista and Rouse Hill.

Skytrain

Skytrain takes Sydney Metro Northwest above ground for four kilometres

The skytrain is at a height of between 10 metres and 13 metres above ground level and is supported with 130 concrete piers, spaced approximately 39 metres apart.

The two new railway stations on the skytrain, Kellyville and Rouse Hill, are elevated and the platforms are above ground.

A landmark 270-metre long cable-stayed railway bridge over Windsor Road at Rouse Hill also forms part of the skytrain. This is similar in design to Sydney’s Anzac Bridge.

Timetable-free

When it opens, the new system promises a train every four minutes in peak hours and will be ‘timetable-free’: users will just turn up and catch a train.

A second stage of the project will include a revamped rail system through Central Sydney and on to the city’s south-west.

Accessibility

Sydney’s new-generation metro trains will make customer journeys easy – with an emphasis on accessibility for people of all ages.

Features include level access with platforms to multi-purpose areas for prams, luggage and bicycles and real time travel information.

Drivers not forgotten

Sydney’s transport facelift is not restricted to the new rail systems.

At the same time, a new tunnel system known as NorthConnex is changing the face of road travel  by sweeping traffic through a nine-kilometre tunnel in Sydney’s north – linking the existing M1 and M2 motorways.

Central Sydney is also getting a 12-kilometre light rail system, with 19 new Stops through the city.

This system, for which testing is also underway will complement the current Inner-West Light  Rail, which already carries 9.7 million people a year.

 

Featured attractions Sydney travel

Scoot prepares for growth boom

Our favourite airline, Scoot, is gearing-up for double-digit growth over the next three years.

And, in preparation, the Singapore Airlines offshoot is set to move into Terminal 1 at Singapore’s Changi Airport to provide an improved check-in and boarding process.

Changi has been working to expand T 1’s passenger handling  capacility as part of wider improvements at the airport.

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Scoot says the terminal upgrades will be able to handle Scoot’s  projected growth while improving check-in facilities in a more spacious terminal.

The upgrades include expanded baggage facilities and are expected to be completed in 2019.

A new “meeters and greeters” hall has been in use since April 2018 and the Changi T 1 departure hall now has a zone where passengers can check in and drop off their bags at self-service machines.

Scoot chief executive, Lee Lik Hsin, said the move to T1 would help the airline continue serving its growing customer base, and meet their needs for a fast and fuss-free pre-flight experience,’’

“We are working hard to achieve a seamless transition for our customers, employees and service partners, and we look forward to welcoming everyone to our new home in T1 next year.”

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Changi Airport said it periodically reviewed the allocation of airlines across all terminals to provide sufficient capacity for future traffic growth.

Scoot has carried 60  million guests and operates a fleet of 18 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and 27 Airbus A320 aircraft.

The airline’s network now covers 66 destinations in 18 countries and territories.  

Scoot has two Boeing 787s and 38 Airbus A320neo aircraft on order.

Air news Featured Airlines travel

Western Australian Vines Resort spa is acclaimed

A leading resort in Western Australia has won international acclaim for the quality of its spa treatment.

Novotel Vines Resort, in the Swan Valley, was among the winners at the 2018 World Luxury Spa and Restaurant Awards, held in Northern Ireland.

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Keishi Spa at the Vines Resort was named the global winner in the prestigious categories of best luxury boutique spa and the best luxury golf resort spa.

It was also recognised as the Best Luxury Beauty Spa in Australia and Oceania.

The awards celebrate exceptional service  in the luxury wellness and fine dining industries.

World Luxury Spa and Restaurant Awards are considered the pinnacle of accomplishment and are a benchmark for luxury hotels and spas across the globe.

This year, more than 140 countries competed in 100 categories, with entrants ranging from safari lodges to health retreats.

At Keishi Spa, guests are treated with luxury Babor Skin Care and Aromatherapy Associates in a secluded sanctuary at the Vines Resort, which is about 35 minutes from the Western Australian capital of Perth

The spa, which is popular with resort guests, features a couple massage room, dual Vichy showers and a hairdresser.

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The spa is situated in a secluded sanctuary under towering trees, between the resort’s golf grfeens and swimming pool.

Spa owner and manager, Everlyn Zaccagnini, said it was particularly pleasing to take out the global awards in sections where Keishi Spa had won its continental honours last year.

This, she said, was “a huge elevation in status and reason for us to be immensely proud.

“It is testament to the hard work of all our staff and we are honoured to win such accolades.”

travel Western Australia

Six favourite destinations

People often ask about our favourite travel destinations.

And although such things are extremely subjective, we don’t hesitate to nominate our six favourite destinations. Here’s a summary:

  1.   Italy

From the glorious lakes of Lombardy; to the north-eastern romance of Venice; the splendour of Tuscany and Florence; the majesty of Rome; the excitement of Naples; and the beauty of the Amalfi, Capri and the Italian riveriera, we simply cannot go past Italy. For us, it’s a no-brainer.

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And our favourite of this wonderland: the largely unspoilt Lattari Mountain villages of Tramonti.

See our report on one particular village

2.      Austrian and Bavarian Alps

For sheer scenic beauty, these areas cannot be beaten. The memories will never leave you.

Again, our favourite location: Schafberg mountain, in the Austrian state of Salzburg.

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Situated within the Salzkammergut Mountains of the Northern Limestone Alps, the Schafberg rises above pristine and magnificent Wolfgangsee Lake.

3.      United Kingdom

Our love of cultural experiences in small village communities, makes the UK a special destination for us. 

We’ve spend time at the villages of Denham, in the county of Buckinghamshire; at Ayot St Lawrence in Hertfordshire; at Kings Cliffe in Northhamptonshire; and at Painswick in Gloucestershire.

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As well as these village experiences, we are particularly fond of the Gower area of southern Wales; Dorset and the city of Bath in Somerset.

And, of course, London never leaves your soul.

See why we keep returning to the Capital of capitals.

4.      Catalonia

Sit in a tavern or coffee shop in a mountain village and watch the Mediterranean shimmer on some of the world’s finest beaches.

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Body clocks are wound a little slower in this lovely part of Spain, where culture, food and wine are the foundations of a wonderful lifestyle.

See our report of a village stay in Catalonia.

5.      Greece

Wander across the hillsides of Crete; watch the famous sunsets at Santorini; stand beneath the Acropolis; or explore ancient Delphi at Mount Parnassus – and you will never be the same again.

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And, did we mention the food?

6.      Slovenia

This tiny Central European country has a lot going for it: from the medieval charm of Ljubljana, to the Adriatic coast at Piran and stunning Lake Bled – surely one of the most beautiful places on earth.

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Tips travel

You must see Mt Parnassus: a true wonder of the world

Mount Parnassus, a limestone spur in central Greece, north of the Gulf of Corinth, is one of the world’s most significant sites – and a ‘must-see’ for travellers interested in culture and history.

Towering above the ancient sanctuary of Delphi, the mountain plays a big role in Greek mythology.

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In addition to being sacred to the god Apollo, who often visited the nearby Oracle at Delphi, the mountain was thought to be the residence of the Muses and, as a result, the home of poetry and song. 

Even the name Parnassus, effectively means the mountain of the house of the God.

Over the centuries, Mount Parnassus has influenced many poets, writers and singers. For this reason, the name of the mountain (Mont Parnasse) was given to a quarter of Paris, France on the left bank of the Seine, where artists and poets used to gather and recite their poems in public.

Ruins of the ancient city of Delphi, which are visited by huge numbers of people each year, nestle into the south-western slope of the mountain – overlooking the coastal plain. 

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The phenomenal influence of this area in the ancient world – the Greeks called Delphi the centre of the world – resulted in its classification as a World Heritage Site.

Although Delphi is mostly known as the home of the Oracle, the city itself had much to offer. 

Every four years, the Pythian Games were held there and the ancient city also had an amphitheater, gymnasium, and other sanctuaries dedicated to gods and goddesses such as Artemis, Dionysus, and Poseidon.

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Mount Parnassus and Delphi are a comfortable day trip from Athens.

We travelled to the Greek capital courtesy of Scoot, which flies modern Boeing Dreamliners to and from Asia and Australia.

Greece travel