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What we learned at the Words to Go social media forum in Adelaide

What we learned at the Words to Go social media forum in Adelaide

What did the world’s leading travel writers, photographers and social media content creators share at #WordsToGo14? Read on to find out

Tasting Australia Sarah Blinco chocolatesI’ve just returned from a wonderful mini break in South Australia, where I attended the fabulous Tasting Australia culinary festival and the Words To Go social media forum 2014 in Adelaide (#WordsToGo14). Around 40 travel and dining bloggers, writers and content creators from around the Australasia region were invited to attend the Words To Go get-together, where we networked, talked digital strategy, travel and food media creation, and all associated joys and challenges.

We were privileged to enjoy informative, inspiring and engaging presentations from several esteemed and experienced guests. Here I’d like to share their wisdom that stuck with me, that might be useful for anyone else keen for hints on:

  • Writing (travel and dining)
  • Blogging
  • Photography
  • Instagram
  • Social media and turning followers into fans
  • Digital media content creation
  • Following your passion


Words to Go social media forum 2014 in Adelaide

Lauren Bath – @laurenepbath – Australia’s leading (and first professional) Instagrammer 

Insty sunset Sarah BlincoWant to score more followers and/or go pro? She says:

  • It’s not commercial photography, so don’t treat it like that; Instagram is social media first and foremost.
  • Always edit (in Instagram or via phone app).
  • Make it YOUR best work – your style and flair, no one else’s.
  • Pay attention to who your audience is and what they like (but mix up crowd pleasers with the pics you love that don’t necessarily always have mass support).
  • Think outside the square on angles and ideas.
  • Sunrise and sunset are great times to shoot.
  • You can share an image taken on another camera by saving it to a cloud service like Dropbox and accessing via Instagram on phone or tablet.
  • Cute and fluffy always wins fans.


Katie Quinn Davies, renowned food stylist, cook and publisher of What Katie Ate website and books

Katie’s food styling and photography is mind blowing; her website, magazine shoots and books are divine. An Irish expat now based in Sydney, she shared quick tips on capturing great food and lifestyle images:

  • Use a handheld mirror to help bounce light. Lighting is really important so seek out rooms and spaces where you can utilise it to make your photos pop. Natural light is always preferable.
  • Take photos of food with lots of colour; be mindful of meat and steak though – burgers and lasagne are the hardest to shoot, according to Katie (and she has practised, a lot!). She loves snapping pizza, pies, pastry and meringues – maybe you could have a go next time you whip something up in the kitchen?
  • Use only beautiful images on your sites and social media – make your spaces the best they can be, especially given that we are now a highly visual society.

Robyn Eckhardt, internationally acclaimed American food and travel journalist, author of Eating Asia

I was really inspired by Robyn’s intelligence, passion for travel and unearthing real life in far-away lands. She reminded us that there is always something new to discover and share in the world, keeping in mind one of the definitions of discovery is: “To learn or realise something; it’s personal and it’s never exhausted.”

How does she travel and discover?

  • The first place Robyn goes to is a local market in the morning – if you take time to observe and interact, you’ll learn about the local ingredients, culture, customs and so much more.
  • It’s absolutely possible to communicate without language – don’t be shy, mime, act, gesture – eventually an understanding is realised.
  • Open your mind to what’s happening around you.
  • If you’re producing content on an area but you’re overwhelmed because it’s all new (and as a traveller you’re probably tired), narrow it to one specific element you notice repeated. E.g. the sale of rice or spinach or a new ingredient you discover at a market. Follow its story through, and other intriguing tales will manifest.
  • Be open to unexpected encounters – just say YES.
  • Don’t just take a guide’s perspective – find out answers for yourself.

Bird in Hand Sarah Blinco

David Hagerman, esteemed international photographer and also photographer for Eating Asia

David presented many awe inspiring travel and food images, and shared easy take-home tips for us to put into practice:

  • Square it up – make sure your angles are straight and lined up.
  • Compose the image from back to front – pay attention to your background.
  • Be mindful of cutting objects off or out of your final capture.
  • Follow your obsessions and photograph whatever it is you’re into, no matter how far out it may seem.
  • If all else fails, snap a pic of a cat (although I think he was half kidding here, but going back to Lauren’s tip, cute and fluffy will win in the end too).

Caz Makepeace, co-publisher of one of the world’s biggest travel sites, YTravel

Caz and her husband, Craig, are currently on a road trip around Australia with their two little girls. Once a “dream”, the pair finally decided that life is too short, so they have made it happen and haven’t looked back. I love that Caz describes herself as a gypsy who doubts she’ll ever get over travel – I can relate and it’s great to know there are others out there who feel the same. She says, “Dare to live an extraordinary life; Go against the grain, ignore the naysayers, set outlandish goals.”

Caz’s live-your-best-life and travel tips:

  • Get back to basics, what’s in your heart?
  • Push your comfort zone when travelling – it will equal great experiences.
  • Trust in your own power, be the best version of yourself and you’ll become magnetic.
  • Help others and allow them to help you.
  • If you’re a blogger or content creator, remember to treat your readers as friends; what’s best for them? What do they need from you in the way of inspiration and advice?
  • Don’t be afraid to break convention – “If the heart is missing, there’s no fulfilment or joy, so what’s the point?”

Greg Snell, Canadian, avid traveller and current Tourism Australia title-holder of The Best Job in the World (South Australian gig)

Greg has truly followed his passion in life, and not being afraid to do so has meant he has lived an amazing travel life all over the globe, including much time in South America and Africa. After meeting him, I recognise he is definitely a worthy recipient of one of Tourism Australia’s coveted Best Job in the World positions. Greg talked about the importance of social media to his success, and how he loves social platforms for getting people together to promote a cause and showcase events and destinations. He says,

  • Live life – for fun, with passion and purpose.
  • Use Facebook photo albums – they increase engagement.
  • Use photos for visual storytelling.
  • Videos are excellent tools for showing others experience and discoveries from your perspective. (For anyone serious about capturing great images and footage, Greg uses a variety of cameras to tape video, including his Canon 5D Mark III and a GoPro).

Bird in Hand South Australia

Chloe Reschke-Maguire, Yelp Adelaide Community Manager

Chloe is a marketing and social media professional who loves to make a splash for her home town of Adelaide on social media.

She says of content management on social media, “Stop trying to reach the most people and focus on reaching the best people – those who spread the positive word, who are loyal, who comment and make your brand great!”

Want to take a look behind-the-scenes at Tasting Australia 2014 and cheese making with Udder Delights?

Planning a trip to Adelaide? I enjoyed my stay at the Rendezvous Grand Adelaide Hotel –read more.

Did you find this helpful or inspiring; do you have a comment? I’d love to hear from you – there’s space below :-)

-Sarah Blinco

Where to stay in Adelaide – Rendezvous Grand Hotel

Rendezvous Grand Hotel Adelaide - Exterior - New (Copy)There’s nowhere more central to stay than the lovely Rendezvous Grand Hotel. It’s one of those properties that boasts two critical home-away-from-home elements − homeliness and cosmopolitan style.

Friendly staff were consistently on hand to assist, and this continued throughout my entire stay. They were swift and helpful when I called for assistance to my room because there was an issue with the plug in the bathroom sink not raising so water couldn’t drain, and were equally nice to me when they explained it’s one of those you simply push down so it pops back up. Blonde moment.

I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that each time I exited or entered the hotel I’d receive a happy, “Hello Miss, have a lovely day” − a touch that means that much extra when you’re travelling solo.

It’s true that first impressions count for a lot, and on setting foot inside this upscale hotel I was entirely satisfied that I’d enjoy my stay.

The foyer is elegant with chic mood lighting and comfortable spaces to sit and relax. Lounge 55 features prominently on this level too, and beckons with a tone that tempted me along these lines: “Hey, aren’t you tired from that flight, would you like a yummy vino?”

Rendezvous Grand Hotel Adelaide -Foyer -new (Copy)

I was excited to discover my Deluxe King room was on level 17 (of 18) with sweeping views of the city which is equally as pretty day or night. The elevator reception areas on each floor are spacious and emanate class through sleek finishes and pleasing European-style design.

Rendezvous Grand Hotel Adelaide_Superior_King_Room (Copy)

The most important aspect of any hotel are its rooms, of course, and I loved mine. Sliding Japanese style doors lead to the wardrobe space and luxurious bathroom with oversized tub and French Connection toiletries. The bed was supremely comfortable and if you’re like me and fussy about your pillow, there’s a specialised menu available to suit all requirements. Floor to ceiling windows present the city in an alluring way, and when the curtains are drawn back the natural light really showcases all the pleasing elements of the room, including its modern spaces, reading/day chair, work desk, flat screen television and large bathroom.

Rendezvous Grand Hotel Adelaide_Executive_Spa_Suite_2 (Copy)

Further facilities you’ll also love about this place include its gym, pool, spa and sauna; free WiFi, concierge service, business centre, the Straits Cafe which boasts a delicious modern Australian menu, and in-room dining which I can personally vouch for as being the perfect combination of a comforting guilty pleasure and excellent value for money.
Rendezvous Grand Hotel Adelaide_Indoor_Heated_Pool (Copy)

The Rendezvous Grand Hotel Adelaide (part of TFE Hotels tfehotels.com) is well priced for its pleasurable amenities and convenient location for business or leisure travellers. I was in the city to attend the Taste Australia showcase and #WordsToGo, presented in and around Victoria Square (close to the popular Adelaide Central Markets), and this property is literally four minutes walk from this precinct.

It also appeared to me to be pretty safe by day and night if you happen to be getting around on foot (which is likely as Adelaide is an easy walking city). Adelaide Convention Centre, Rundle Mall, the cultural boulevard of North Terrace, and popular Gouger and Waymouth Street restaurant precincts are all within walking distance of the hotel. You can also easily explore South Australia’s famous Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale wine regions with a daytrip into the picturesque countryside.

It is easy to get to and from the airport − around ten minutes via car, taxi (approx $20 ride) or chauffeur service.

Where to stay in Adelaide

Rendezvous Grand Hotel Adelaide
55 Waymouth Street, Adelaide
Tel: +61 (0) 8 8115 8888

Want to take a look behind-the-scenes at Tasting Australia 2014 and cheese making with Udder Delights?

Tasting Australia in Adelaide

Tasting Australia in Adelaide

Tasting Australia Hilton Brasserie dessert Sarah Blinco

When I checked in on Facebook from the Adelaide airport announcing my landing for the first time in South Australia for #WordsToGo14, I received a rush of feedback from fans, locals, and ex-pats living in other Aussie regions expressing enthusiasm for the city. Affectionately known as ‘Radelaide’, the city is renowned as being friendly, relaxed yet vibrant, and surrounded by rolling hills, beautiful beaches and world-famous wine and dairy producing regions. I discovered for myself the city’s delightful (and delicious) precincts dedicated to eating, boutique bars and gourmet food trucks, Haigh’s Chocolates, the National Wine Centre, as well as the southern hemisphere’s largest undercover produce market, Adelaide Central Markets.

Tasting Australia in Adelaide 2014

Tasting Australia Adelaide 2014 Sarah Blinco

It seems fitting that among Adelaide’s many renowned annual events, the city also hosts one of the world’s most well known culinary festivals, Tasting Australia (tastingaustralia.com.au, 27 April to 4 May 2014).

The event is always a resounding success, and Tasting Australia in Adelaide 2014 is shaping up to be no exception, following a world-class program of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, cooking classes, experiences, tours and workshops presented by Australia’s very best chefs, winemakers and producers. The level of expertise is a cut above, and I became acutely aware of why South Australia has garnered an international reputation as a premier food and wine destination.

Adelaide Central Market Sarah Blinco fruit


Adelaide was actually named as one of Lonely Planet‘s top 10 cities to visit in 2014; described as “effortlessly chic − and like a perfectly cellared red, it’s ready to be uncorked and sampled.”


Taste testing at Adelaide Central Market

About The City of Churches

WeekendNotes.com has presented a few neat facts on Adelaide that I’ll share with you briefly. “In 1836, a city named Adelaide was born with a proclamation under a gumtree at Glenelg, now a seaside suburb west of the city… Adelaide has been nicknamed the ‘City of Churches’. Although it is not known as to who first started using this nickname, one only needs to take a look around to dig out the rationale behind such a nickname. Churches boasting exquisite architectural designs abound in this beautiful city with the Holy Trinity Anglican Church being the oldest which was built in the year 1838… 

Adelaide is reportedly home to the biggest display of Aboriginal Culture and artefacts. These are showcased at the South Australian Museum as well as at Tandanya – the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute… Arguably one can reach any point in the city within a period of 20 minutes thus the [other] nickname, ‘20 minutes’ city… Adelaide’s exotic Botanic Garden has the largest and oldest glasshouses in the Southern hemisphere. These glasshouses sure make some terrific tourist attractions… Adelaide is not only the capital of South Australia but is also the opal capital of Australia… [In Australia] Adelaide was the first place to abolish sexual and racial discrimination, the first to do away with capital punishment, the first to recognise Aboriginal land rights, the first to give women voting rights and interestingly is also the first place to legalise nude swimming.”  

My top two experiences

Adelaide Central Market

The southern hemisphere’s largest undercover produce market and South Australia’s most visited tourist attraction, with roots dating back to 1869. The market boasts over 80 stalls selling everything you can imagine, from fresh cheese, fruit, veges, bread, cakes, coffee, nuts, yoghurt and fare from around the region and the world. The market is easy to navigate as it’s divided into a colourful array of lanes and broadways; it’s also easy to find being as it’s generally referred to as being the ‘Heart of Adelaide’.

Adelaide Central Market nuts Sarah Blinco

Adelaide Central Market cheese Sarah Blinco

Udder Delights Cheese Cellar

Now this is an experience that everyone in the family will adore. Indulge in a cheese-making master-class hosted by the gorgeous Sheree Sullivan and the team, who will guide you through making your very own cheese which you can create, take home, nurture and in good time eat. You’ll learn all about cheese (in an entertaining context − no boring science lectures here) as well as the wonderful local businesses in the Adelaide Hills region (many tight-knit family owned for generations); and you’ll enjoy lunch while your cheese mix incubates. A cheese and wine trail is on offer to explore on location in Hahndorf, and you can even take a cheese themed high tea for good measure. Many of the experiences on offer at Udder Delights are booked out in advance, so reserve your space to avoid disappointment.

Also worth a peep while you’re in the area is the picturesque Bird in Hand winery where I was lucky enough to experience my own unique version of the Udder Delights cheese-making master-class. Bird In Hand is now also hosting wonderfully chic musical events on site at the vineyard, check the website to see if something’s on that coincides with your visit: birdinhand.com.au.

Bird in Hand winery Sarah Blinco

Bird in Hand winery Sarah Blinco

Planning a trip to Adelaide? I enjoyed my stay at the Rendezvous Grand Adelaide Hotelread more.


Got a comment, query or suggestion? I’d love to hear from you – there’s space below :-)

-Sarah Blinco