Dear ASTW members,
The Covid lament sounds for all the world like a broken record: another month of border closures and lockdown for our Melbourne and regional Victorian members, another month of uncertainty and staggering upheaval in our travel and tourism industry. We acknowledge the hardship you’re enduring, and commend you all on your fortitude. Thanks to everyone for the supportive and caring social media posts; it’s good to see our members reaching out where needed and helpfully shifting the tone to one that is positive, thoughtful and good-natured.
Speaking of which, a leaping high-five is due to Sherriff Shaney Hudson for taking on the role of chief ASTW FB group moderator – see below for more information on why this was necessary. The last month has also brought changes to your committee: we had departures by Carla Grossetti, Keren Lavelle and Natascha Mirosch, who had decided not to renominate as per their original commitment of coming onboard until what was originally scheduled as a 3-6 September AGM. Their contributions were significant, primarily due to the extended hours of voluntary work during the committee transitions over the previous six months. We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Carla, Keren and Natascha for their time and commitment. You’re missed already!
We are delighted, however, to welcome onto the committee Pip Macken as our second PR representative and Scott Podmore as a full writer member. Scott is doubly celebrated as the only male committee member and a valuable Victorian representative. Much appreciation is due to both of you for joining our ranks at this time.
We have been busy as usual, with our time filled this month by the 2020 Awards for Excellence, planning a virtual awards ceremony for November, working to renew TravMedia’s annual sponsorship contract and assembling constitutional updates to ensure the committee maintains its vigour and relevance in these changing times. I can’t forget the ongoing flow of excellent webinars and collaboration with all our outstanding volunteer sub-committee members (we seriously couldn’t do it without you!).
Special mention goes to the hard-working awards sub-committee – Mike Smith, Justine Costigan and front-man Peter Hook – for your time in not only working on the launch of this year’s new-look awards but also your availability in replying to the many questions and suggestions from members during the entry period. This was an extraordinary effort for a mammoth task, and it’s been a pleasure to work with you on this. With over 600 entries, the many judges are now actively working their way through the submissions before announcing the finalists. Best of luck, everyone.
WELCOME PIP MACKEN AND SCOTT PODMORE
We’re delighted to welcome onto the committee ASTW members Pip Macken and Scott Podmore. With 20-plus years’ experience in PR and professional writing, Pip has held the role of Media Director for Destination Canada for the past decade. She is also Media Director for Yukon Tourism and Travel Manitoba. Pip enjoys creating PR programs for her clients, including hosting famils (during non-Covid times, of course!) and writing content to entice Aussies to visit Canada. Most of all, she loves getting to know ASTW writers and photographers, and tailoring remarkable famil itineraries to match their personal interests. Scott (or Poddy, as he’s better known) is a content “all-rounder” who brings fresh ideas and commercial nous from his experience as an award-winning journalist and newspaper editor, videographer, bestselling author and managing director of his company, October Grey Media. He’s been a freelancer over the years for dozens of magazines, newspapers and company websites including the Travel Design Group, a part of the Magellan Group, and online travel mag The Departure Lounge. Scott is set to launch some exciting new travel platforms including The Luxury Pod and Conscious Travel Mag post-COVID (once the dust settles).
ASTW AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE
What a bumper year it’s been for our awards! We received 618 entries this year, surpassing the previous year’s record of 524 entries. We have also received many positive comments about how easy the AwardForce system was to use. Big thanks to committee member Christina Pfeiffer for her intensive, behind the scenes work getting AwardForce installed and ready to use, and the awards sub-committee – including committee point of contact Elisa Elwin – for their unstinting work in the launch of the new and improved 2020 awards. The confidence in the awards process has certainly been reinforced by the significant increase in entries this year.
Meanwhile, the committee is busy planning a virtual awards event for 5 November 2020. While it’s impossible to predict what the future holds with regards to social restrictions, we are hoping to include small group gatherings in various states as part of the celebrations.
We’d like to express our gratitude to Tourism Australia and TravMedia for recommitting sponsorship for this year’s awards. We’re still seeking sponsorship of various elements of the awards event, and welcome enquiries at PR@astw.org.au. For details of the awards, please click here.
Thank you everyone for renewing your membership. We were thrilled to report an 81 percent renewal rate – an outstanding achievement considering the extraordinary times in which we find ourselves. This is in contrast to a general slump in Australia’s membership-based not-for-profits of between 20 and 25 percent, despite a widespread reduction or scrapping of fees – something your committee decided not to do. Our members’ positive response validates this difficult decision – in particular during a year in which sponsorships and other income generators have been absent. It is a resounding endorsement of the value of ASTW membership and the professional opportunities and camaraderie it delivers. We look forward to another year of ASTW collegiality with you all.
Following our poll and subsequent vigorous discussion on the ASTW Facebook group about the value of our TravMedia-sponsored membership cards, we have decided to issue these cards to our members using sustainable, recycled material. In order to expedite dispatch, please ensure your postal addresses are updated on the ASTW website before Tuesday 15th Sept. If you are having trouble logging in to your profile, please email your updated details to email@example.com.
NEW MEMBER APPLICATIONS
The following new member applications have been approved by the committee. Any objections should be lodged with the secretariat within 30 days at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Ivy Carruth – Associate Writer member
- Emma Shaw – Digital Publisher member
We regret to inform you of the cancellation of our Tourism Australia/Accor lunches, which were to have been held in Brisbane on 28 October, Sofitel Sydney on 29 October, and Melbourne on 30 October. Covid keeps messing up our plans, but we look forward to reintroducing this much loved pastime soon. Let’s all put an ASTW Christmas lunch on our bucket list!
ASTW BOOK CLUB
The ASTW’s inaugural book club will be launched by member Sue Gough Henly on 15 September at 6pm AEST on Zoom (bit.ly/ASTWSeptBookClub) and live-streamed on our Facebook group. Our first pick is this year’s Miles Franklin Literary Award winner, The Yield, by Wiradjuri author Tara June Winch. Winch has described the novel as a ‘handbook for truth’. If you haven’t yet read it, there’s still time to grab a copy and join in a discussion about it with Sue and fellow members. Happy reading, and thank you Sue for taking on this project!
While we’ve adjusted the frequency of our webinar program, we have plenty of useful topics scheduled for the next couple of months, including sessions with Tourism Australia and several state tourism operators (watch this space and our Facebook group for more details). To watch any of the 21 webinars currently in our library, visit the ASTW website (password required). Meanwhile, bookmark these upcoming sessions:
TravMedia Masterclass for PRs with Nick Wayland, 16 September, 11am AEST
Following Nick’s hugely successful webinar on how media can make the most of TravMedia, he now turns his attention to the many ways in which PRs can benefit from this platform. In this masterclass he will take participants through each step of the process, from building an attention-grabbing profile to connecting with media, posting press releases and making use of TravMedia’s specialist clippings service. bit.ly/TravMediaPR
The ASTW committee has asked Life Member and past president Lee Mylne to chair a new Ethics sub-committee, which will advise the committee on ethical issues and review the ASTW Code of Ethics. As a current Doctor of Creative Industries student researching the ethical challenges facing Australian travel journalists in the digital age, Lee is the ideal person to head this sub-committee. Other members of the sub-committee are writer members John Borthwick and John Maddocks, and PR members Sarah Anderson (GTI Tourism) and Shelley Winkel (Tourism & Events Queensland). ASTW members with ethical concerns or questions are also welcome to contact sub-committee members for advice or guidance. The committee thanks Lee, John B and John M, Sarah and Shelley for agreeing to give their time and expertise to this important topic.
The ASTW secretariat recently released a series of special resolutions for constitutional change as deemed necessary in order to cultivate growth of the membership, the committee and the parameters in which we function. There has been substantial feedback and we take on board all constructive comments. We have learned a lot through this process, and whilst we feel the current changes are an important catalyst for growth, we recognise that there are still gaps in the current constitution; it will require a further, in-depth review to ultimately position it as a fundamental document that stands the test of time as our industry evolves. We acknowledge the changes made by many committees over the years, each with a genuine desire to improve the society; however, with each change a little “chink in the chain” has developed, as one change affects another, and the result has been a less than robust and at times contradictory constitution. Your committee is committed to full involvement of the next steps for correction and ultimately the cementing of the constitution for the foreseeable future. For now, however, we ask that these initial changes put forward through special resolution be voted on through the link forwarded to eligible voters. A positive result will allow us to fill our committee and office bearer positions and bring new talent and energy to the committee – something sorely needed after a tough year indeed. If you haven’t already voted, please do so.
ASTW FACEBOOK MODERATOR
Our Facebook group has become our primary meeting place this year, and we thank Shaney Hudson for offering to moderate the space (along with various committee members who have fulfilled this role until now). While we welcome robust discussion, it’s important we recognise the fact that the ASTW is required to meet certain legal obligations as creator of this group. We ask our members to brush up on the group guidelines, which can be found here. Please carefully consider contentious posts, checking first that they are free from bullying, ableism, racism and aggression. Note, too, that posts will only be approved between 9am and 8pm (unless moderators are available outside of those hours). Finally, a reminder that official requests or questions regarding committee issues or decisions or official ASTW business need to be officially put in writing to the Secretariat at email@example.com or the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GERMAN TRAVEL JOURNALISTS JOIN OUR ALLIANCE
The Global Tourism Media Alliance, of which the ASTW is a member, has welcomed the German travel journalist society, VDRJ Vereinigung Deutscher Reisejournalisten to its ranks. This will create mutually beneficial opportunities for all our societies’ members as well as the alliance itself.
TRAVEL INVITATION TO SATW’S CONVENTION
In exciting news, for the first time ever GTMA alliance member the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) has invited ASTW members to join their annual convention, to be held virtually from 14 – 17 October. For more than 60 years, the SATW’s convention has been limited to members, their guests, and professional development speakers. But in the spirit of community, and in recognition that many journalistic and media organisations have had to cancel their annual conventions, they have opened registration to ASTW members. This year’s agenda includes keynote addresses by Longwoods International President Emir Elyon and hospitality entrepreneur Chip Conley; panels on the future of the industry; discussions on sustainability and diversity; hands-on tutorials on communications metrics, SEO, writing and running your own business; destination tours presented by sponsors; and networking happy hours. Confirmed speakers include Carnival CEO Arnold Donald, Travel + Leisure Editor-in-Chief Jacqueline Gifford and Melvin Tennant, president and CEO of Visit Minneapolis. All sessions will be recorded and available to conference registrants after the convention (which will help with the time difference!). The cost for non-member journalist attendees is US$250; those who register by September 8 receive a US$25 discount. You can learn more about the meeting and register at satw.org/2020-virtual-
The ASTW acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders both past and present.