First Travel Associates sign

Golden Era Of Travel

04 Apr 2018

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Celebrating a milestone birthday is an opportunity to reflect on the years that have passed, enjoy the blessing of today as well as looking forward to the future. In 2018 as Travel Associates celebrates our 20th anniversary we reflect on how travel today is noticeably different from what it was 20 years ago. Our current world of 21st-century travel and the future beyond, with its incredible affordability and opportunities for personal transformation, shines bright indeed – golden, even.

The late 1990s were an exciting time in travel. Qantas had sparked a price war a few years earlier and the iconic Australia to London route saw dramatically reduced fares of around $1,800 which represented just three weeks’ pay, the equivalent of almost $4,800 today.  The beginnings of affordable travel were a stark contrast to the early years of commercial aviation. The 29 passengers aboard the first Qantas Lockheed Constellation bound for London in December 1947 paid $1,170 for the four-day each way flight, equivalent to a staggering $136,000 in today’s dollars.  The subsequent 20 years saw the emergence of more airline options and greater affordability and today, the typical Sydney to London fare of $1200 represents less than a week's pay for the average worker.*  *Based on full-time adult average weekly earnings from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

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First class upper deck in Qantas 747 in 1971
Qantas first-class upper deck lounge in the heady 70s. (Courtesy of Qantas)

It isn't just the affordability that has changed, the onboard experience has also gone through significant transformation. Planes are now smoke-free, and the few small TV screens hovering from the ceiling have been replaced by ever-larger seat back screens and on-demand entertainment. Premium seats have improved too with lie-flat beds, privacy screen and even first class suites.

Sally Sylvester Reflects...

Travel Associates’ General Manager Sally Sylvester reflects on the positive shift that has taken place in travel over the last 20 years, and is optimistic that the golden era is destined to continue.

“Growing from just one store in a leafy Melbourne suburb 20 years ago to a network of some of the most experienced travel advisers in Australia today, we have witnessed incredible advances in travel,” Sally says.

Twenty years ago when Travel Associates first opened its doors, the travel industry was in the middle of a reawakening.  The emergence of online travel agencies challenged traditional brick and mortar travel agencies to expand their services to encompass more than just flights from A to B and accommodation that was merely a place to rest after ticking off a list of touristy must-sees. This newfound independence of online bookings kick-started the redefinition of travel: traveller vs. tourist.

Sally believes the travellers’ way of thinking is the way forward. “Our clients are discerning travellers, so we pride ourselves on being encyclopedic on all things travel,” she says.

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 modern travel
It is hard to remember the time of paper travel documents.

Travel Today

Travelling in 1998 was a very different experience to today. It is hard to remember travel before the smart phone, e-tickets and global travel wallets. One would be off exploring the world armed with travellers’ cheques, reverse call cards, paper airline tickets and rolls and rolls of camera film. 

Technology and the rise of social media has also enabled greater knowledge and access to more remote locations and streamlined the experience.  Innovations abound like mega cruise ships, travel apps and the latest high-tech luggage assisting intrepid travellers, to name just a few. It’s these advances in the travel industry that have created new opportunities for travellers to embrace their inner thrill-seeker, scientist, astronomer, adventurer, artist and historian in myriad places.

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First Class zero gravity position
First Class zero-gravity position - modern travel combines technology and human biology to create maximum flying comfort.

Travel Associates has been delivering unique journeys throughout the last two decades, while the travel industry has been constantly changing and advancing.  Greg Ashmore, of the first Travel Associates office, Ashmore & James Travel Associates talks about the initial inspiration for the office creation and the wonderful experiences that are available for the lucky traveller of today.

“The initial store sprung from my desire to bring trips alive for my clients through story telling, with a focus on sharing with them all the experiences that are available at destinations around the world. While we pride ourselves at Travel Associates on our luxury travel expertise, sometimes it is the 4-star quirky hotel tucked away in a tiny town or an old chateau off-the-beaten track recommendations that provide the most memorable and joyful experiences.

It is this type of comprehensive and detailed knowledge that our travel advisors have at their fingertips that create a really amazing travel experience. Also as our clients tend to be quite well-travelled, they often look to us for the chance to discover something new on their next adventure.

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 stained glass window
Sometimes it is the off the beaten track places that provide those travel gems.

One trend that I have seen evolve over the years is that with the constant “busyness” of modern life, clients are still having big annual trips but looking for shorter breaks closer to home, so they can recharge.  The team and I are across all the fantastic retreats here in Australia plus the best spots in Asia, New Zealand and the South Pacific for our clients to spend shorter times away but still have the opportunity to rest, rejuvenate and relax.

Our in-depth knowledge and experience are paramount for us to do our job but I consider it an absolute a privilege and the best part of my day when I am able to share with my clients things like, the wonder of the Northern Lights or the delights of Southern France or the incredible vistas at Machu Picchu. During our consultations we also add particular tips for clients to make the most of their time away by letting them know what else is possible at that time of year.

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 Macchu Picchu
Macchu Picchu a favourite must-do of the experienced traveller.

And even though we are in an exciting era of travel right now, I am still very optimistic about the future with second and third generation clients seeking our knowledge and insights for their next travel adventure. These younger travellers although products of the Digital Age, do appreciate the value that Travel Associates’ Advisors bring to the creation of memorable holidays. So we are seeing the dividends of our high-touch and detailed service and now are looking after children and grandchildren of our loyal clients,” says Greg.

Many of our travel advisers have also witnessed this evolution through the eyes of their long-term clients. Lex Noller, of Noller & Turner Travel Associates reflects on the journey he has been travelling with one family.

“I remember some of my clients first booking a backpacking holiday around Europe many years ago. I then booked their honeymoon, first family holiday and now continue to book their extended family getaways as well as escapes for just the two of them.

Revisit Old Favourites

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 London Bridge
Why not revisit and relish with more time places you visited years ago.

It is interesting that many of my long-term clients are returning to the places that they discovered for the first time 20 years ago and are now opting to revisit London or take a driving holiday around the UK with the goal to have more of an immersive experience this time around.

Since we opened in 1998, I have seen this desire for more experiential travel increase steadily over the years.  Today, I see my clients who are generally experienced travellers, opting to stay for a month in one spot to really soak up the destination, rather than do a 23–day whirlwind trip around Europe. And there are so many new emerging destinations that really do warrant extra time to properly appreciate all that they have to offer. I see our role at Travel Associates as linking up our customers with all of these new travel experiences that are available for today’s discerning traveller.

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 Croatia
Remoter parts of Croatia are options for the discerning traveller.

Travel Can Still Surprise You!

Even after 30 years in the industry, every week I discover amazing new places to go and new things to do. Small ship and luxury expedition cruising around exotic places like the Galapagos or in secluded parts of Croatia are just some of the experiences that I am highlighting to my well-travelled clients who are seeking something a little bit different for their next trip.”

Sally Sylvester outlines that Travel Associates has kept abreast of all the advances in the ever-changing travel industry by ensuring that all staff are comprehensively experienced and knowledgeable.

“Our expertise comes from in depth industry accreditation and training plus extensive travel that ensures all of our Travel Advisers are the absolute experts in all things travel.”

With this type of knowledge and exciting new developments, Sally reaffirms her optimism about the future of travel and says, “Today, with amazing premium airfares and accommodation available, technology advancements and so many immersive experiences on offer, we believe that we are definitely in the golden era of travel, but the future looks brighter still.”


Looking for some inspiration for your travels this year...

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Tara Young

The experience of travel changes a person. I see my job as highlighting what amazing travel opportunities there are to broaden your knowledge of that great big world beyond your doorstep and what you may learn about yourself on the way.