Farewell Leroy

Farewell Leroy

A solemn atmosphere descended upon the office last week, as we bid farewell to our favourite guide dog in training, Leroy Wilson.

Having passed all his exams with flying colours, he is now off on the next stage of his adventure, an extensive 3-month training program alongside his siblings. Then, he will be paired with a vision-impaired person, and will carry out his mission of guiding them. On paths, and in life’s big lessons.

We are all so proud, but Kathy, his foster mum, would be lying if she didn’t say that there was a part of her that wanted him to fail his exams so that he could stay. Alas, Leroy Wilson is perfect, so there is a small chance of that.

There certainly been ups and downs since our last update, when Leroy was just 13 weeks old. He has graduated crate training, no longer needs avant-garde electronica to sleep, and has quadrupled in size (and cuteness).

There have been many tests (mainly in the form of two pocket-rockets named Tilly and Daisy), but for the most part, Leroy has remained strong.

Parting ways was hard, but we know without a doubt that this handsome, sweet boy will go on to change someone’s life for the better.


Bridgie's Aviation Adventure

Resident content team member, transport enthusiast and shutterbug, Matthew Bridges, recently took a trip to Perth to live his childhood dream of riding in a Boeing 747- 400 aircraft.

With the country-wide retirement of the 747 scheduled for 2020, Bridgie was desperate to experience the flying might of the jumbo jet before the mammoth Airbus A380 and modern 787 Dreamliner take reign over the skies. And, as all aircraft enthusiasts know, when flying in an iconic plane, one must always get a seat on the top deck.

Bridgie flew to Perth on the 12th of August to catch the jumbo jet back across the country to Sydney. He took some impressive shots of the Boeing aircraft and a few stunners from his time in Perth too!


KOG BLOG - The time the team went hopping mad for hops

The most recent project taking the spotlight here at HQ is the Kegs of Glory competition. Tourism Media partnered with a fabulous team at Pacific Digital Group in San Diego in a quirky campaign to promote Australia’s thriving craft beer scene.

Essentially, the team visited several craft breweries in Queensland and Victoria to find out which is the capital of craft beer in Australia. Brisbane or Melbourne?

Johnny, Sawyer, Mo, and Chris were at the heart of this project and if the rest of us are honest, Kegs of Glory quickly became bigger than Ben Hur. They took a 6-day trip to Melbourne in June to film craft breweries and interview brew masters in their element. Then they returned to check out a few of the great breweries in Brisvegas too.

The fun and quirky style of these brewery mini-docos meant that there was a lot of strange post-shoot filming to do, to add just the right amount of drama.

This involved some odd behaviour around the office.

One day the boys were smashing pineapples and karate chopping dragon fruit in the front yard—a task they seemed to enjoy a little too much. The next, Johnny was on the phone for two hours, trying to track down a live mud-crab to film—Mo almost lost his shooting finger to a feisty crustacean that day.
The office was rife with brewery merch, weird hops props, and Johnny singing out “KEEEEEEEGS OF GLORY” at every opportunity.

That said, this project was a welcome change of pace for the team, and everyone loved supporting and promoting local businesses.

Voting closes on the 13th of August, so get in quick to vote for your favourite featured brewery.

Visit www.expedia.com.au/explore/kegs to see the full project.


Welcoming the Newest Member of the Writing Department - Leroy Wilson!

Last week the TM writing department welcomed their newest staff member, a black Labrador pup called Leroy Wilson! Leroy will be joining the team for the next 12 months as his foster mum, Kathy Wilson, trains him to become a seeing-eye dog.

Leroy was only 13 weeks old when he arrived at the office. Having just been separated from his two sisters, Layla and Lucky, Kathy was a little concerned about how he’d get on.

The first day was a little rough. Quite literally in fact. The writers’ room was graced with yips and howls all morning. We endured as best we could until John had the sense to try to calm poor Leroy with a spot of music.

Funnily enough, there is quite the archive of puppy calming playlists on Spotify! Our new resident wasn’t pacified by Bach or Mozart though. In fact, he proceeded to join in with their sweeping melodies (despite being piercingly out of tune).

After some experimentation, we found that he was quite partial to avant-garde electronica instrumentalist, Toshiki Hayashi, and thankfully he didn’t feel the need to participate. Leroy was the perfect resident puppy in the writers’ room for the rest of the afternoon. And since then, he has only become more well behaved!

Because Leroy is in training, Kathy is required to be very stern with the rest of the staff members, lest they instil bad habits. Leroy is often referred to as “the invisible thing in the corner,” because he needs to know that he is not the centre of everyone’s attention. While he’s wearing his guide dog-in-training vest he can’t be swooned upon. A task which proves quite difficult for some.

We’ve fallen into quite the routine with our newest four-legged staff member. John takes the role of Leroy’s work dad very seriously and makes his bed every morning in preparation for his arrival.

We’re all very fond of little Leroy, and he will be sorely missed when he passes his test and becomes a fully-fledged guide dog. It will be bittersweet, but we rest in the knowledge that Leroy will be on his way to changing someone’s life for the better!


Cuba and Warsaw Expedia Travel Guides Win Davey Awards

We are proud to announce that Tourism Media has won three sparkling Davey Awards for two travel guide videos. The Davey Awards are presented by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts to small- and medium-sized creative businesses.

The Warsaw and Cuba videos both won in the travel category of their online film awards, and the Cuba video also picked up a gong for its original musical score.

The writing department was particularly fond of these two projects, with Kathy saying “of all the scripts I’ve written, Warsaw’s story has been the most moving and inspiring.”

The team affectionately recall John becoming a method writer whilst working on the Cuba project. This involved many attempts at Cuban accents and a substantial amount of Cuban music played in the office. They were also very excited to work with the world-renowned voice actor, Frank Chavez, who famously voiced Fernando Martinez in the Grand Theft Auto games.

Congratulations to the team involved in putting these videos together:

Warsaw

Production: Sandra Wilkinson
Filming: Jon Reid
Script: Kathy Wilson
Music: Jacquie Joy
Editing, Colour & Digital Expert: Matthew Sawyer
Voiceover Artist: David Menkin
Fact Checking: Dillon Murphy

Cuba

Production: Rohan Tundle
Filming: Ian Wilkinson
Script: John Danalis
Music: Jacquie Joy
Editing, Colour & Digital Expert: Matthew Sawyer
Voiceover Artist: Frank Chavez
Fact Checking: Dillon Murphy

These videos would have been impossible to complete without the dedicated, ongoing support of Neil Stickells, Tim Spektor, Tevin Anderson and the fantastic Expedia SEO Team.

Check out the travel guide videos here.


Ljubljana, the city of legends

Some cities are so charismatic that their Vacation Travel Guide scripts almost write themselves, and Ljubljana is one of them. This is a city that brims with European history and charm, but also offers some unique treasures of its own.

For instance, it’s not every day you will happen upon a museum dedicated to marionettes, but in Ljubljana you can explore the city’s rich tradition at the Museum of Puppetry.

The city banned cars in its centre in 2007 leaving the air free of all but the tinkle of bicycle bells, and the only traffic you’ll find here is people out enjoying the university town.

The city strikes a balance between innovation and history. Ljubljana Castle is a beloved landmark that has been standing above the city for more than 900 years. Far from relic status, the castle is often used for weddings, concerts and art shows and is as such part of Ljubljana’s daily life.

When researching the script for the video, our resident writing whiz, Kathy Wilson, loved the local myths that still echo in the city today. Dragons are the symbol of Ljubljana, a legacy from a dragon that was said to have lived in the town river. “My favourite story was about the Dragon Bridge. Locals believe that when a pure maiden crosses the bridge, the dragon statues standing above her twitch their tails,” she says.

Press play below and check out the bridge for yourself and the many delights of Ljubjana.


Tourism Media’s Rhomaney Whitten Raises $2500 for Shave for a Cure

Say hello to our new resident baldies. We’re super proud of Team Leader Rhom and our Programmer Steve, who have, in the past week, both taken the plunge and shaved off their hair.

In an event that turns 20 years old this year, World’s Greatest Shave put on another awesome March month of freshly bared heads. Rhomaney said that she’d been thinking about shaving her head for a while after living pretty much her whole life with long hair.

“I decided to sign up to World’s Greatest Shave and get sponsored to raise money for the Leukemia Foundation which is a great cause,” she said.

Rhom’s actions inspired Steve Voykin who works in the programming area. To show his support for Rhom and her fundraising, he shaved his own head.

Rhom is still collecting donations, with the current tally being $2500+ — an awesome effort for an awesome cause.

When speaking about the drastic change, Rhom and Steve both said their respective shaves have saved them time and shampoo! According to Rhom, the only drawback is that the aircon has a little more bite to it – now Rhom brings her beanie as well as her brains to the office.

The new ‘dos have certainly garnered a lot of attention, which is, of course, the point. The World’s Greatest Shave is more than just an avenue to raise funds, it’s a visible form of support for those who haven’t chosen to lose their hair, and also a great conversation starter to raise awareness.

Take a look at the pictures to see the transformation for yourself.


Slavinken

Recipe: It ain't much, if it ain't Dutch

As the only Dutch employee in an office full of Aussies, I get teased all the time with my funny accent and odd expressions, so I feel it’s my duty to remind everyone that Australia was once called New Holland and that if the Dutch had been clever enough to plant their flag on the spot where the British founded Perth a few centuries later, we could all be speaking Dutch today! My mother is convinced that the only reason Australia isn’t part of the Netherlands today, is because the Dutch didn’t have enough convicts to ship here.

Jokes aside, I’m not very nationalistic and I’m certainly not homesick, but there are some things I do miss about the Netherlands. One of those is Gouda cheese and the other is… slavinken! The word slavinken means ‘lettuce finches,’ because the bacon-wrapped meat patties are best eaten with lettuce and baked potatoes. It can also be translated as ‘beat finches,’ but not to worry: no little birds are harmed in the process.

It’s my last week in the Tourism Media office, because my partner Colin and I are setting out on a road trip for an indefinite time. So, I decided to make my last team lunch memorable by treating everyone to slavinken. I had actually made it a few times before and people kept asking me if I could make those ‘bacon thingemies’ or ‘whatchamacallit’ again. Who am I to refuse such eloquent requests?

While I was dripping butter over the sizzling ‘finches’ in the kitchen, Rohan came running to see if it was really true that ‘slavoetsjelskastrofen’ were on the menu again and Dillon was so impressed with the smells that he considered becoming a meat eater again. I made that up, by the way. Dillon has been very good with sticking to his guns as one of two vegetarians in an office full of Paleo-lifestyle enthusiasts. Respect!

Matty was so excited when he saw the slavinken that he told me that he loved me, but I suspect that he meant to say ‘love meat’, because he devoured 3 slavinken in 10 minutes (and didn’t even sit next to me during lunch)!

We paired the slavinken with a Malbec, because I had just finalised the Mendoza video script, and Darlene had baked me a delicious cake for desert, because I’m so awesome. (Oh, she just corrected me: It was because it’s my birthday too this week. Ah well).

Ingredients:
For about 20 rolls, you’ll need:

  • 1 kilo ground lean beef/veal
  • 1 kilo ground pork
  • 1/2 kilo very thinly sliced streaky bacon (a quality butcher’s shop will do this for you)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (or almond/hazelnut meal for a gluten-free version)
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

Method:
Mix everything, except the bacon, quickly and evenly and form elongated rolls that fit in the palm of your hand. Wrap each one in bacon by draping the slices in a grid shape first (pin down with tooth picks if it doesn’t stick).

Pan-fry with lots of butter (keep dripping it over the meat and turn regularly) for 20-25 min, or else 15-20 min on the BBQ for a smoked version. If the meat appears a little pink on the outside when you cut it, that’s from the bacon and not because it’s undercooked.

Variations:
Mix in any ingredients you like. I’ve given this batch a hint of Italian flavour by adding parmesan cheese, oregano, thyme, basil, tomato sauce and chili flakes. Consider adding a San Choy Bau spice mix for an oriental twist.

Eet smakelijk!

(that’s Dutch for bon appétit)
(which is French for ‘I hope this goes down well’)


Tourism Media's Technical Lead takes on the Port to Port Mountain Bike Race

Terry Franklin, Tourism Media’s technical lead, recently embarked on Port to Port MTB – an annual four day MTB stage race which took place this year in May. According to event organisers, the ride is designed to be fun for riders of all levels and participants get to enjoy the local iconic scenery of Port Stephens, Newcastle and the Hunter Valley.

Terry rediscovered mountain biking about five years ago and finds the benefits of the sport last far longer than the ride.

“I rode a lot as a kid but lost touch with bikes in my late teens, when driving became an option and going out every weekend seemed like a better idea. That lifestyle didn’t suit me for very long, but I didn’t go back to bikes for some time. Instead I looked to sports like running and going to the gym to stay active. The problem I found with that approach though, is that without a meaningful goal to work towards or benchmark to assess progress, staying motivated can be pretty difficult. So about a year ago, after spending a few years getting reacquainted with riding as an adult, I started to look for more races & events to compete in.

I first heard about Port to Port from a friend, and immediately liked the sound of it. The four stages cover two hundred kilometres in four very different regions – Nelson Bay, the Hunter Valley, Lake Macquarie and the Newcastle coast. Marathon-type events seem to suit me more than shorter races, but I had never done a multi-day race before so I was definitely a bit apprehensive about making the finish line.

Thankfully I was able to get in lots of quality training in the months before (with the support of my wonderful partner Meg, who travelled to the area with me). During the event, I raced to a planned, conservative strategy. The combination worked and I was able to complete all the stages in times that I was happy with and not feel completely destroyed at the end of each day!

I’m always surprised by the way things can change meaning for you at different points in your life. When I was a kid, my bike was a means of breaking the shackles of parental dependence. It gave me freedom and the ability to get out with my friends. I can’t really remember what I thought about when I rode back then, but I’m pretty sure it was probably typical teenage concerns. Now when I ride I try my best not to think about anything and just focus on the trail, which I’ve learned is when I ride my best. Mountain biking to me now is about more than just fitness, it’s a chance to be present and give my full attention and effort to one single activity, which happens to be the perfect counterbalance to the work that I do at Tourism Media.”


Margaret River Wine Region

Whale Song ‘n’ Wines

Tourism Media founders, Nick and Matt, love nothing better than hanging a ‘Gone Shootin!’ sign on their office door and hitting the wilds for a week, just like the ol’ days when they did everything themselves, from filming to cleaning the office kitchen (which didn’t happen all that often!).

The boys recently spent a week in Australia’s acclaimed Margaret River region, capturing stills and video footage for our latest destination guide. Over the years, they’ve learnt that the goodwill and cooperation from local tourism authorities and enterprises can add much to the shooting experience. Nick and Matt’s Margaret River experience was no exception. “We were blown away by the kindness and hospitality we were met with in Margs,” said Matt. Particularly memorable was the day spent filming at the region’s oldest winery, Vasse Felix, and a morning out on the waters with whale watching outfit, Naturaliste Charters.

After receiving a grand tour of the vineyards, barrel and tasting rooms of Vasse Felix, Nick and Matt were ushered into the winery’s restaurant where they were fed to within an inch of their lives by 2015 West Australian Chef of the Year, Aaron Carr. “The wines, food and hospitality were out of this world,” mused Matt, “but at the end of the day we could barely move!”

The next day the boys took to the high seas with Naturaliste Charters. Not only did the fellas get to film humpback whales and dolphins, they were also treated to the rare opportunity to see the largest living creature on the planet, the blue whale. Throughout the day, Skipper Mal, regaled the boys non-stop with salty stories and Margaret River folklore. “Blokes like that”, Nick later reflected, “are as rare and as special as the blue whale we experienced that day.”

So to the good folk at Vasse Felix and Naturaliste Charters, and indeed to all those passionate and dedicated souls we encounter all over the world, we say, thank you. Thank you for truly appreciating Tourism Media’s mission, and for making our work even more of a joy than it already is!