Rediscover Yarra is a council-led initiative to profile and highlight the great diversity of places to shop, eat and socialise across our community. We’re telling the story of Yarra businesses, showcasing what they do and what’s special about owning and operating a business in our local community.
“There’s a lot of pride in Clifton Hill area, a lot of care about the environment and about the community. It’s a beautiful area”. “And the people, they have a lot of love, care and pride for the area that they live in.”
After years of working for a large travel agency, Emma embarked on a new challenge and opened her own business, Emma Whiting Travel. “I wanted to create a boutique personalised agency where I could share my passion and love of travel to work with clients to design their own holiday”.
Over the past 14 years the Queen’s Parade agency has established itself in the community as Emma and her team work with their clients to build individual itineraries and holidays.
“A large portion of our clients are locals who come back time and again and refer friends building on what we call our EWT (Emma Whiting Travel) community. Like our team, many of our client’s passion for travel comes from seeking new experiences.”
Whether you want to organise a personalised bike tour of Southern France, explore the ruins in Greece or see the savannahs in South Africa, the team works with their clients to ensure they receive the experience they desire.
Since the pandemic began and the borders closed, Emma Whiting Travel has shifted its focus to create those same unique adventures domestically and regionally. Building on their network of travel partners, they aim to find exceptional and unknown gems all around Australia that spark wonder and create beloved memories.
While their customers reach far beyond the Clifton Hill area, Emma always makes sure she has a focus on the local community. “Our community is very important to us, and I have always admired and appreciated the support that both business and individuals show each other, especially in times of adversity”.
“To me, I think that’s why people need to be part of community. Getting to know each other and looking out for each other. It’s not just business to business. I’m talking about people to people”, she said. “During the COVID lockdown even though I live in Northcote, I would come down into Queens Parade to do my shopping, because I wanted to ensure that we were supporting those businesses.”
With this micro-community culture and the support of one of Yarra City Council’s COVID-19 Local Business and Precinct Support Fund, they embarked on many other projects to strengthen the business for the future when international travel is possible again.
Using the money from the grant, Emma was able to engage with a digital marketing team to boost their online presence with a website refresh and stronger social media strategies. She used this to pivot her business to local travel where possible and help coordinating people returning home from overseas through COVID restrictions.
These moments provided some real beauty. One moment that pulled on Emma’s heartstrings was the goal to help a stranded young woman, stuck overseas in the UK, get home in time for Christmas. After two failed attempts of her own, the team navigated the red tape and legislation and with the strength of their relationship with the airline was able to get the young woman home in a way that was stress free and affordable.
It was a very emotional thank you email and photo from the parents, wishing their daughter a happy Christmas through the hotel window in quarantine that made Emma and her team remember why they do what they do.