Category Archives: Blog

Off-The-Beaten-Track in Philadelphia

Philadelphia. An American city of cheesesteaks, Rocky Balboa and LOVE. But once you’ve run up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and tucked into a cheesesteak at Reading Terminal Market, what is there to do next in the East Cost metropolis?

Here’s our list of the top five under-the-radar attractions that should be included on any itinerary in Philadelphia.

Fishtown and Philadelphia Distilling

Philadelphia’s cool neighbourhood of Fishtown is a haven for trendy travellers looking to immerse themselves amongst likeminded locals. Along with vibrant eateries, including the highly rated smokehouse Fette Sau, the area is also home to Philadelphia Distilling, which is the first craft distillery in the state of Pennsylvania since prohibition. Following a tour at the distillery (and a cocktail or two) head to Garage Philly to enjoy traditional American arcade games, including skeeball, or a beer in front of a Philadelphia Eagles game.

The Bourse

Although the city is home to two of America’s oldest markets, Reading Terminal Market and the South 9th Street Italian Market, foodies visiting the city should also visit The Bourse, which has recently been transformed into a modern food hall with 30 different vendors. We’d recommend trying a grilled cheese at Mighty Melt or tacos from Takorean, which offers a delicious fusion of Korean and Mexican flavours. There’s not a tub of Philadelphia cream cheese in sight!

Philadelphia Magic Gardens

Following a visit to the renowned Philadelphia Museum of Art, Barnes Foundation and Rodin Museum, travellers with a love for art should be sure to head to South Street for a visit to Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. The gardens are a spectacular immersive art environment which were created by the mysterious mosaicist Isaiah Zagar, who started decorating the indoor and outdoor space as a therapeutic outlet after having a nervous breakdown.

Mutter Museum

“Dark tourists” who love being disturbingly informed can view a collection of skulls, a giant’s skeleton and even Einstein’s brain at The Mütter Museum at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Regarded as America’s finest museum of medical history, the Mütter Museum displays its beautifully preserved collections of anatomical specimens, models, and medical instruments in a 19th-century “cabinet museum” setting, which is creepy enough as it stands!

Eastern State Penitentiary

The sprawling ruins of the Eastern State Penitentiary were once part of the most famous and expensive prison in the world and was even home to the Mafia gangster Al ‘Scarface’ Capone. The prison is now a museum and offers visitors tours through the crumbling cellblocks. Although there are debates over whether the prison is haunted or not, there’s no question that it’s the spookiest place in the city!

Photography Credits:

  • The Bourse exterior photo by Kyle Huff
  • Mutter Museum photo credit Kyle Huff for PHLCVB
  • Eastern State Penitentiary photo credit Kyle Huff for PHLCVB
  • Skyline from South Street Bridge Spring 2019 photo credit Kyle Huff for PHLCVB

What it’s like to intern at a travel and lifestyle PR agency in London

Our intern Isabelle shares her experience of working at GEC PR.

I have to admit that until this year, I never really had any hands-on experience in professional communications. Previously I had tried my hand at writing, editing and blogging, but I still clearly lacked the industry knowledge and routine of PR work. With the end of my MA studies approaching, I decided to find out more and applied for an internship at GEC PR.

Interning was a great way for me to discover more about the world of PR and see if my skills and qualities matched. Working at the office enabled me to get first-hand insights into the whole process: from media pitching to content generation to monitoring and reporting, everything was starting to make more sense. It was great to see all the different pieces come together, and to find out how much work was actually involved in that article you see in the glossy magazine delivered to your desk in the morning.

What I liked about my work here was that there was always something going on. You never knew what a new day would bring. With all the diverse clients and areas of travel and lifestyle, every day was refreshingly different. That’s exactly what I look for in a career, and I think being based in London is the ideal place to find it. All the events, media headquarters and exciting people make it the perfect place for PR.

But as always, time just flies by when you’re having fun. Over the course of my three months at GEC PR, I got a lot of positive feedback and was really able to enhance my writing skills. I also sharpened my eye for all the different types of language that is used, be it in press releases, newsletters or reports. By working at a smaller agency, I profited directly from the incredible know-how of the team. A big thank you goes out to the team for making this such an amazing experience!

Now I finally feel ready to go out into the working world thanks to my increased skills, knowledge and confidence. I wish the GEC PR team all the best and I’m super excited to see what the future holds for me!

Top Tips On How Travel Brands Can Effectively Engage With TV & Radio Producers

As Chair of the UK’s Tourism Society PR Network, I had the pleasure of bringing together some of the UK’s top broadcast travel presenters and producers for The Society’s PR summer event – From Broadcast to Bookings: How To Effectively Engage with TV and Radio Producers.

On the panel were: BBC Travel Presenter Rajan Datar; Andy Clarke, Producer for James Martin’s Adventures; Chris Richards, Series Producer for Travel Man; and BBC Radio veteran and MD of Whistledown Productions David Prest.

The event was attended by a host of tourism brands and PRs, who have since fed back that the tips the panellists shared were really useful and insightful, so in the spirit of assisting travel brand/PR/broadcaster relationships, here are eight tips I took away and intend to implement to get the best out of broadcast opportunities for my travel clients:

1. Allow broadcasters to share their brief with you – before pitching what you think they should see and do. America worked well for James Martin’s team because the tourism boards listened to the producer’s creative needs and requirements (AC)

2. Before pitching to a programme, it sounds obvious but do watch it first before sharing your bespoke pitch ideas (All)

3. Ask yourself why your destination would be relevant to that TV or radio programme. Is there something timely happening that would make for an interesting angle? Is there a unique story exclusive to that destination? (CR)

4. To showcase a destination, let broadcasters meet the people living there – they are the best storytellers about their own country (RD)

5. Recommend good people on the ground within the destination that will make the lives of the broadcast team easier – the name of a good fixer is invaluable information (RD)

6. Try and nurture relationships with a journalist/producer and remember that although a project may not happen overnight, those relationships can prove indispensable in the longer-term (AC)

7. B Roll can be useful for TV, but remember it should feature a diverse mix of people (RD)

8. Great radio requires great facts, great characters and great sound effects (DP)

Why The Maldives Isn’t Just For Honeymooners

The picturesque beaches of the Maldives have long topped the wish lists of newlyweds looking for a location for their honeymoon. However, with a wide variety of accommodation and activities on offer, the Indian Ocean destination is now suitable for all types of holidaymakers. Here’s our insider tips on why the Maldives isn’t just for newlyweds.

Thrill Seekers Paradise

Because of its marine location and due to the fact that 99.6% of the Maldives is made up of sea, the destination is a haven for water sports fans and divers. Visitors can take part in a range of water-based adventure sports, from stand-up paddle boarding to canoeing to being propelled below the surface of the sea by underwater scooter.

Fabulous for Families

The one island, one resort model in the Maldives creates a safe environment for families and many resorts are now well-suited for those travelling with a baby. The clear waters surrounding each island are relatively calm so this means they are ideal for parents to paddle with their children.

Escape the Daily Grind

The peaceful and serene surroundings of the Indian Ocean are ideal for escaping daily life for a wellness break and numerous resorts boast outstanding spa facilities. In fact, the first underwater spa opened in the Maldives in 2017. Many treatments across the country now also incorporate local ingredients and techniques.

Top Five Tips for Travel to the Maldives

  1. What currency do I take? Although the official currency of the Maldives is the Rufiyaa, dollars and credit cards are accepted at resorts and on local islands popular with tourists.
  2. How many islands are there are how do I get around? There are 1,190 islands in the Maldives but only 142 are home to resorts for tourists. 99.6% of the Maldives is made up of sea so the best way to get around once you arrive is by seaplane, speedboat or a domestic flight.
  3. What do I need to pack? The average temperature in the Maldives is 30 degrees Celsius throughout the year so be sure to pack light clothing and lots of swimwear. Holidaymakers will also want to pack sandals as much of their time on the island may be spent barefoot due to the sand. Many of the resorts in the Maldives have UK plug sockets in the rooms but it’s worth packing a universal plug adaptor just in case.
  4. What wildlife can I expect to see in the Maldives? Nature lovers can explore an island’s surrounding house reef and expect to see a wide range of tropical fish. In deeper waters snorkellers can see whale and nurse sharks, manta rays, dolphins and hawksbill turtles. Common island creatures on land include lizards, fruit bats and crabs.
  5. Is there Wi-Fi in the Maldives? Yes, many resorts offer guests free Wi-Fi on the island but to guarantee internet access during your trip, consider purchasing a SIM card when you land at the airport. There are Dhiraagu and Ooredoo internet provider shops in the arrivals hall and these can provide tourist internet SIM cards for as little as £12 ($15) for 4GB of data to use over seven days.