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CORPORATE RETREATS Under Canvas®

We’re always on the look-out for wonderful locations for corporate retreats and incentives, and we found such a place when we attended IMEX.

Under Canvas offers safari inspired glamping accommodation and experiences in some brilliant destinations across the United States.

Under Canvas is the largest and fastest growing Glamping company in North America.

The safari-style canvas tents boast optional en suite bathrooms, king size beds, daily housekeeping, and wood-burning stoves. Regionally paired activities, local cuisine, activities, food & beverage, and entertainment for up to 50 guests all come together at Under Canvas locations across the US.

“The Under Canvas offering looks wonderful—a great option for corporate retreats and team building, and incentive travel. We’re working closely with the Under Canvas team to create unique experiences in some of America’s most divine locations.”

Sharon Levingston, Head of Events at The Events Authority.

Immerse yourself in the great outdoors without forgoing the comforts of home. Experience starry night skies, wild landscapes, healthy cafe-style dining, and a luxurious private tent.

In addition to static, seasonal camp locations, Under Canvas can also do off-site events at the venue of your choice. The Under Canvas team can set up glamping and event tents just about anywhere.

For more information about Under Canvas, leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US to discuss your specific requirements.

We’d love to hear from you.

WE KNOW: Conferencing on Hamilton Island

Sharon Levingston, Head of Events at The Events Authority recently returned from a hosted-visit with a number of events industry leaders to attend the opening of Hamilton Island’s new Beach Pavilion conference space.

The group was wined and dined on the lawns between the beach and the Beach Pavilion.

“It was a fabulous event under the stars on a balmy tropical Whitsunday evening, and a timely reminder of what a versatile destination the island is,” says Sharon.

“Recognising the importance of conference and incentive business to the island’s success, Hamilton has made significant investments in revamping its conference spaces. And with accommodation options to suit all styles of groups, Hamilton appeals to a broad base,” she added.

Sharon stayed at Reef View Hotel.

“The rooms are huge! They’re ideal for groups that need a twin share option and, with all rooms ocean facing, the views are fabulous. So fab, in fact, that the feathered locals often pop by to enjoy the views as well,” quips Sharon.

The island’s Conference Centre has been refurbished.

“Conference Centre is fresh, its colours are subtle, and there’s an on-site AV team that knows what can be done in this region,” says Sharon.

The island’s standout features according to Sharon?

  • Hamilton Island has matured and is a genuine stand-alone destination. With a choice of restaurants in all categories – and even now a huge IGA offering a selection of ready made meals, the island offers numerous options for longer stays.
  • Meeting space choices: Conference, beach-front, poolside, yacht club – a number of different venues that can keep any group surprised.
  • The accommodation selection: From Qualia, Yacht Club Villas, Beach Club, Reef View Hotel – the island can cater for any group.
  • The Whitsundays: Honestly, how lucky are we to have this destination right on our doorstep – the reef, Whitehaven Beach, Walking on the island, water activities – just WOW.

Hamilton Island Marina.

Fast Facts

  • Hamilton Island is home to 10 restaurants, 6 bars, 7 pools and over 20 specialty stores. Facilities include a chapel, IGA Supermarket, pharmacy, post office, bank, kids club, hairdresser and day spa.
  • There are 13 dedicated meeting rooms and over 10 unique function areas such as secluded sandy beaches and beachfront pavilions to provide a business event with a difference.

Come and check it out for yourself.

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US to discuss your specific requirements.

We’d love to hear from you.

WE KNOW Celebrations

2019 was another big year for The Travel Authority Group. One worth celebrating. And celebrate we did from coast to coast.

WE KNOW: Where to find ‘OHANA’ in Hawaii

Ohana is the Hawaiian term for ‘family’.

Not just your immediate kin, but your broader community and neighbours. It’s about more than blood-ties. It’s that sense that we’re all connected—that we’re all in this together.

Sharon Levingston, Head of Events at The Events Authority, recently visited Hawaii and reports that she found ohana streaming through her stays at Four Seasons hotels and resorts.

Image: Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina.

“It had been some time since I last visited the beautiful islands of Hawaii,” says Sharon. So, when Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts invited Sharon back, she jumped at the chance. Sharon travelled as a guest of Four Seasons & Maui Jim.

Sharon’s visit included stays at Four Seasons Resort Lanai, and Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina.

Image: Four Seasons Resort Lanai.

Four Seasons Resort Lanai overlooks Hulopoe Bay on the south-eastern coast of the pristine island of Lanai—the smallest publicly accessible inhabited island in Hawaii. The resort is just a 20-minute drive from Lanai City, a charming former plantation town with no traffic lights and a friendly, laid-back vibe.

Curiously, 98% of the island—including the Four Seasons Resort Lanai—is owned by tech billionaire Larry Ellison who spent an estimated $450 million to remodel the resort which reopened in April 2016 after a seven-month shutdown.

Image: Four Seasons Resort Lanai

Lanai is accessed from Honolulu by air (35 minutes), or from Maui by ferry. Ferry transfers take about an hour.

“Set by the sea amid spectacular scenery, sunsets and coastal walks, Four Seasons Resort Lanai is a true haven of tranquillity,” Sharon reports.

“The resort has really invested in quality. Every facet of the property and guest experience—including the gorgeous welcome gift in my room—was crafted, and exuded quality and luxury. The attention to detail is visible at every touchpoint,” she adds.

Sharon recommends the 213-room Four Seasons Resort Lanai to anyone looking to step out of the hustle of everyday and breathe.

“Significantly, the resort is the island’s largest single employer, so the sense of ohana here is palpable. Guests really are welcomed into the Lanai family when they stay here,” says Sharon.

For meetings and events, the resort offers nearly 3,500 sq. metres of total event space, with everything from the Hulopoe Ballroom that covers just over 700 sq. metres, to intimate garden terraces. Be sure to contact The Events Authority if Hawaii is on your conferencing radar.

The second stop on Sharon’s visit was Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina on the western shore of the island of Oahu, just 35 minutes from downtown Honolulu.

Located right by four lovely beach coves, known as the Ko Olina Lagoons, the resort is perfect for activities like swimming and outrigger canoeing in clear tropical waters.

Image: Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina.

“Two absolute highlights of my visit were a morning outrigger canoe and snorkelling excursion, and evening stargazing in the dark night sky and observing stunning moon craters and other heavenly sights,” says Sharon.

For meetings and events, Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina offers some 2,600 sq. metres of events space across a range of ballrooms, meeting spaces and outdoor events venues.

Image: Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina.

A final tip from Sharon: If you’re staying at a Four Seasons resort, be sure to download the Four Seasons App. It’s a fabulously efficient way to connect to resort management and services via the app’s ‘chat’ function, to ask where the hairdryer is, request more coat hangers, replace a misplaced room key—anything, really.

One thing that became clear to Sharon from both resort visits is that, at Four Seasons resorts, “The little things are the big things. None more so than the genuine feeling of ohana on arrival. It’s a welcome I won’t forget in a hurry.”

Sharon travelled as a guest of Four Seasons & Maui Jim.

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US to discuss your specific requirements.
We’d love to hear from you.

WE KNOW: Successful Teams

In this short article, Sharon Levingston – Head of Events at The Events Authority, reflects on a thing or two she knows about success in business.


I was asked recently by someone visiting our team—and inspecting our trophy cabinet and its most recent addition of the 2019 National Travel Industry Best Business Events Agency Award—why I thought our last few years in business had been so successful.

Instinctively I responded with, “Team. We have shaped a great team.”

And this made me ponder –

What makes a great team?
And, specifically, what is it about ours that drives our success?

I’ve had some time to consider those questions on a recent trip, and here’s what I think.

  • Teams like ours are successful not because they contain a checklist of skill-sets. Our success is driven by the right attitude-set. We come from different backgrounds, we’re an eclectic range of ages and experience levels, but there’s a collective self-awareness at the team level that brings cohesion.
  • That cohesion drives effective communication, chemistry and an awareness of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We step up and step away individually as required to ensure we deliver the most potent version of our collective selves.
  • With cohesion comes a focus on goals and results, and that drives great service and relationships with each other, our clients and suppliers.
  • Ninety per cent of the events we work on involve travel. As a team, we understand that the journey is just as important as the event.
  • We look after each other and understand the importance of having a laugh every now and then.

I’m so proud of this dynamic, emotionally intelligent little team of ours.

We’re going places.

Sharon

WILDLIFE RETREAT at Taronga Zoo

Already home to some terrific function venues and experiences, Sydney’s iconic Taronga Zoo has recently revealed its latest premium offering—Wildlife Retreat.

Just 12-minutes by ferry from Circular Quay—even faster by water taxi—Taronga Zoo’s venues can hold intimate boardroom events for 15 people, right up to lavish affairs in Taronga’s grounds. Wildlife retreat adds another dimension to the zoo’s events offering.

“The Zoo already boasts a high quality events offering in an iconic setting, and the new Wildlife Retreat will take it to another level”, says Sharon Levingston, Head of Events at The Events Authority.

Wildlife Retreat features five environmentally-sensitive, sustainably-designed lodges built into the property’s native bushland setting, with 62 elegant rooms and suites that overlook the wildlife habitat, many of them with wonderful views of Sydney Harbour.

Integral to the Wildlife Retreat at Taronga experience is its dining, featuring uniquely Australian menus with a strong focus on fresh local produce and native ingredients.

Owned and operated by Taronga Conservation Society Australia, the Wildlife Retreat will contribute essential funding towards the care of Taronga’s animals and broader conservation and education programs in Australia and around the world.

The Wildlife Retreat at Taronga opens to guests from Thursday 10 October 2019.

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US to discuss your specific requirements.

We’d love to hear from you.

WE LOVE: Connected Partners

Our business is built on deep connections with our clients, staff and our supplier partners. Some of our deepest connections lie with our technology partners who, mostly behind the scenes, super-power our offering and our people.

We were thrilled recently to bring one of those technology partners—an Australian one, no less—out from behind the scenes and into the limelight at our annual conference in Brisbane. Tramada is our engine-room, an advanced platform that streamlines our operations, data management, document production and travel accounting.

Sharon Levingston (right) overseeing the action at The Travel Authority Group conference in Brisbane, May 2019.

And we also loved it when the Tramada team popped in to visit The Travel Authority Group bearing a prize they donated to our conference, a prize that was awarded to Sharon Levingston – Head of Events at the Events Authority.

Tramada’s Country Manager, Susan Enners, and Alan McCartney, Head of Sales & Account Management, generously presented Sharon with an iPad.

“I’m so chuffed”, said Sharon Levingston.

“We’ve had a massive few weeks with our exciting win at the National Travel Industry Awards, and now this. We will put the iPad to good use. It will be a brilliant tool for presentations and for showcasing event spaces to our clients”, added Sharon.

We thank the Tramada team for their ongoing support and partnership with The Travel Authority Group.

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US to discuss your specific requirements.

We’d love to hear from you.

WE KNOW We’re the Best in the Business. Again.

We’re delighted to advise that The Travel Authority has been named Best Travel Agency Corporate – Multi Location at the 2019 National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA) held in Sydney on 20 July.

“It’s a brilliant result and well-deserved recognition for our team”, said The Travel Authority Group’s Managing Director, Peter Hosper.

“This is the third time we’ve won this award, and it indicates that we’re doing things right for our clients, our supplier partners and, importantly, our people”, added Peter.

The NTIAs are considered the travel industry’s benchmark for businesses and people delivering outstanding service, marketing excellence and business acumen in Australia’s travel industry.

Hosted by international award winning personality and TV journalist, Anjali Rao, the awards gala event took place at the Grand Ballroom of the International Convention Centre, Sydney. Some 1,300 travel industry guests attended from just about every sector of Australia’s travel industry.

Accepting the award on the night, Sarah Bush, Director of The Travel Authority Group, said, “We’re just so proud of what we’ve created at The Travel Authority. Our team is brilliant, and we’re empowered by Peter Hosper’s leadership. To win this award again is testament to that.”

Not content with winning the Best Corporate Multi Location award, sister business—The Events Authority—was also named Best Business Events Travel Agency in a huge occasion for the Group.

Jennifer Waters, Events & Travel Manager at The Events Authority with Sharon Levingston accepting the National Travel Industry Award.

“It was a great night for the Travel Authority Group”, said Sarah Bush.

“Sharon Levingston and her Events Authority team have done a wonderful job. We’re absolutely delighted for them, and it was great to share some NTIA limelight with them in 2019”, she continued.

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US to discuss.

We’d love to hear from you.

WINNING BIG (Twice) at the National Travel Industry Awards

We are still buzzing after being named Best Business Events Travel Agency at the National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA) in Sydney on 20 July in the Grand Ballroom of the International Convention Centre, Sydney.

“It’s an incredible result for our small team”, said Sharon Levingston, Head of Events at The Events Authority.

“We were up against some really big, established operators—all terrific businesses. So, we’re thrilled to have come out on top. A lot of work goes into our awards submissions, and even more into running a great business. We’re exhausted but chuffed”, added Sharon.

The Events Authority is now a two-time winner of this prestigious award, having also won in 2017.

Jennifer Waters, Events & Travel Manager at The Events Authority with Sharon Levingston accepting the National Travel Industry Award.

Hosted by international award winning personality and TV journalist, Anjali Rao, the event played host to some 1,300 guests from just about every corner of the travel industry.

But the Travel Authority Group wasn’t content with winning just one category. The Travel Authority was named Best Travel Agency Corporate – Multi Location for the third time.

The Travel Authority Group’s Sarah Bush accepting the NTIA for Best Travel Agency Corporate – Multi Location.

“It was a great night for the Travel Authority Group”, said the Group’s Director, Sarah Bush.

“Sharon and her team have done a wonderful job. We’re absolutely delighted for them, and it was great to share some NTIA limelight with them in 2019”, she continued.

“The NTIA has industry wide representation and a strong history of recognising and celebrating businesses and personnel who demonstrate outstanding service, marketing excellence and business acumen within the travel industry. The event may be put on by AFTA but it is the industry who makes it a celebration to remember each and every year”, said Jayson Westbury, Chief Executive of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA).

For more information, simply leave us a note in the form below, or CALL US to discuss.

We’d love to hear from you.

WE KNOW: COLOMBO, SRI LANKA

We are all aware of the awful incident that befell Sri Lanka in April 2019.

We were fortunate, however, to work with the Shangri-La Hotel Colombo on a major conference event late 2018, and have no hesitation about working with the property and brilliant team again.

You can see the reasons why in our event report below.

We were delighted to receive this message from the hotel’s Vice President & General Manager, Timothy Wright:

“Our heartfelt sympathies and support continue to be with the families and loved-ones of those affected by the incidents in Sri Lanka on 21 April 2019. They will always be remembered. I am pleased to announce that Shangri-La Hotel Colombo is now ready to welcome guests. Our team’s passion for service remains undiminished, and we look forward to welcoming you back to the hotel.”

If you’d like to know more about our Shangri-La Hotel Colombo experience, please let me know.

Sharon Levingston
Head of Events
The Events Authority


The Events Authority had the very great pleasure and responsibility of delivering a four-day conference in Sri Lanka in late 2018 for a client with a global footprint in the Educational Services sector.

Some 200 delegates flew into Sri Lanka from all corners of the globe for interactive workshop sessions, business partner training, and panel discussions that addressed the changing needs of the global education market.

This annual event has traditionally been held in Asian capitals, but ventured to the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.  The conference was staged at the Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo.

The venue has only been operating since 2017, but certainly delivered the highest levels of Shangri-La service and experience, setting—we believe—new benchmarks for the region.

The meeting spaces are across two floors, both of which are easily accessible by dedicated escalators and lifts. The Grand Ballroom—on the higher of the two floors—can be split into three zones. We used Ballroom B/C for the conference plenary session, and Ballroom A for lunch.  The pre-function foyer is spacious (see header image), with the added bonus of high ceilings and gorgeous natural light.

Shangri-La Ballroom Convention set up.

The floor below the Grand Ballroom is home to another bank of eight meeting rooms with a common foyer. The Spice Ballroom here offers a single space that can be divided into four, all with natural light.  The second Ballroom also breaks into four spaces.  Each of these rooms is perfect for breakout and smaller groups, the majority of them having inbuilt screens and ceiling projection.

We found all Shangri-La staff—without exception—an absolute pleasure and delight to work with.  Being a new property, there were some very minor training issues that require attention.  There was always a member of the banquets team on standby to assist our operating team, and I can genuinely say that the level of service we received from the banqueting team was about as good as we’ve seen anywhere.

The quality of the F&B was very high, and there was plenty of food for everyone.  All dietary requirements were catered for without the slightest issue.

We had a lot of moving parts—props and backdrops to shift from rooms—yet after a morning briefing each day this was completed smoothly and seamlessly.

A fabulous feature of the hotel is its outdoor deck area which is covered by a permanent marquee.  As event managers, we love being able to offer our clients outdoor networking solutions that are not weather dependent, and the back-up of returning to a Ballroom if required.  We commend the hotel for its forward-thinking approach by installing a permanent marquee over this space with removable sides.

An innovative feature of the Grand Ballroom is the ability to use the inbuilt lighting for the stage wash and spots.  By being creative with the lighting, we were able to save our client the cost of added rigging of lights for the event.

Horizon Club Lounge.

The Horizon Club was ideal for our senior executives, with the added advantage of hourly complimentary rental of the smaller meeting spaces for our ad hoc briefing meetings.  One suggestion that the hotel might consider is to extend the evening cocktail service operating hour, or offer a paid service for later in the night.

Capital Bar & Grill.The Capital Bar & Grill was hugely popular each night with our delegates regularly kicking on until the wee hours of the morning.  There’s live entertainment here, Monday to Saturday, from 8.30 pm.

Whilst there are offsite locations available, these are limited and some do involve a bit of travel time.  The waterfront Galle Face Hotel is just a five-minute walk from the Shangri-La, and was the perfect setting for our delegates for an offsite dinner.  Pre-Dinner drinks were served out on the Terrace at sunset with an added touch of the lowering of the flag to the sounds of the bagpipes.

There are a number of event spaces at the Galle Face Hotel that can be used for groups, we used the Grand Ballroom and held a very casual group dinner with Bollywood entertainment to add colour and movement to the room.

Colombo is definitely worth considering for residential conferences for up to 300. With facilities and services available at the Shangri-La, Colombo is now an excellent alternative to Asian capital cities.

Contact:  Sharon Levingston