News 24.08.22

HOW TAG WORKED WITH EUREKA PRODUCTIONS TO ARRANGE TRAVEL FOR THE AMAZING RACE AUSTRALIA

Unlike any other reality show, The Amazing Race Australia is one of the most complex, multi-faceted productions to create. Here’s what Karlene Meenahan (Series Producer) and Sophia Mogford (Head of Entertainment) at Eureka Productions had to say about working with TAG to manage this production’s travel. 

Karlene Meenahan,
Series Producer Eureka Productions

Sophia Mogford,
Head of Entertainment Eureka Productions

What was your involvement with this production?

We prepare routes, plot creative content and work through all logistics for the series. Overall, we attempt to find the fine balance between a realistic budget and sustainable travel logistics, while securing the most outlandish, adventurous and beautiful cities to visit (plus casting, budget and logistics for all cast and staff).

How did TAG help you with your travel for this production?

During pre-production, one of our first steps was to get expert travel advice from TAG.
After we eliminated cities that had been utilised in previous series, we then put a wish list together of the most exotic, adventurous, and spectacular locations. The locations on our first draft were so extreme and remote, that details needed to be investigated.

So, we asked TAG for their expert advice and this is where they truly shined. Their creativity, problem-solving, and knowledge of the most cost-effective ways to move around the world helped us to get the best outcome.  

This included train travel, private jet hire, ferries, flights and hotels. TAG was also happy to provide quotes on other types of travel, such as car and van rentals, hotels, local petrol prices and excess luggage. This was instrumental in the planning of routes when often this process takes months of conversation and quoting before Production will settle on a route.

TAG’s tricks of the trade that only industry experts know, were extremely advantageous at this point. For example: using airport hubs around the world as pivot points; unique insights into new routes opening before the information became public; knowledge of where group flights vs. individual flights vs. world tickets are the best to use; knowledge of which locations are easier or cheaper for hotels and living expenses; following worldwide trends; and guessing next season’s must-visit destinations before they are discovered. This gave us a unique position of accessing and filming in upcoming ‘hype’ destinations. Not only did we hit the market before prices increased, but we also got to film before an uncontrollable amount of people visited the area.

Although this show predominantly broadcasts the flying component of the travel, there was much more in the background where TAG’s expertise was called upon. Without any hesitation, they advised on excess luggage costs for nearly every airline. Where a Google search may find a cheaper flight, in the long run, the hidden costs usually outweighed the discount. I never had to use that Google search method, because the advice from TAG was always the most cost-effective and reliable. (I would love a dollar for every Junior Producer who believes they have found a cheaper flight on Google, only to be shot down in flames when the real costs come in).

Once we started filming, we needed 24-hour support as things were constantly changing. TAG’s team made sure every issue was resolved quickly, efficiently, and without drama. Most of the time, solutions were already underway without needing to ask. TAG was ahead of the game and already aware of flight changes, cancellations, airport closures, weather, disasters and other world incidents before they were brought to our attention. 

All TAG employees involved with The Amazing Race – notably General Manager of Entertainment, Alli Pratt – displayed an unrivalled level of creativity and innovative thinking, proving most helpful in finding fast and effective travel solutions for the production.

What were some unique challenges, and how did you solve them?

Workaround options and new routes were proposed by TAG when faced with border closures during COVID-restricted times. The close relationship with TAG’s primary travel rep during pre-production meant they already knew our backup options, action was taken to make all necessary adjustments. TAG also kept close attention to industry news and was able to forewarn our Production Team. 

During any production delays or pauses, TAG was able to make sure hotels were extended or alternatively sourced, and flights were changed. Any remaining travel logistics were also adjusted. Working with our in-house Travel Coordinator and Line Producer, TAG’s team went above and beyond to understand how the show works, which was a vital component in making these changes (as it is often not as simple as sliding the dates along).

Due to flight changes and cancellations being more prevalent over recent years, TAG has been invaluable in their understanding of the finer details of travel logistics. They were able to suggest and action alterations quickly. We had flight cancellations, a plane accident, and crew spread across multiple countries. TAG facilitated solutions swiftly, for example: Who can fly with who? Who remains behind and who moves forward? What time do we expect to wrap and be able to pack up? 

How was it working with TAG’s staff?

“In one instance, I arrived at the airport to find my flight being cancelled while I was at the self-check in. A Virgin Australia rep came over to help me. She wanted to put me on a later flight. I asked if I could get on the earlier flight instead. The Virgin rep explained there was no way they could process the change in time. So, I rang TAG for support. To the Virgin rep’s surprise, tickets and luggage tags were processed and in the system in less than 5 minutes thanks to TAG’s support.”

Karlene Meenahan, Series Producer

“I will never forget when Alli Pratt from TAG called me while I was in Los Angeles filming. Covid had just begun to take hold and on this occasion, she hadn’t actually been responsible for bringing me and the team out there. However, she still cared and gave me a call. She told me to get myself and the Australian contestants back on a plane ASAP, as airlines were going into liquidation and things were shutting down. She suggested which flights to take and was clear and calm on a timeline. I loved her then almost as much as I do now.” Said Sophia Mogford, Head of Entertainment

Would you recommend TAG to another production?

Absolutely. In the midst of all the unexpected challenges – changing 160 flights with only minutes to spare, changing hotel room dates over and over again, trying to figure out the names of handfuls of people who never use their real names except for when flying, travelling around the world in a pandemic, etc, the ability to call up TAG and not only resolve solutions quickly, but to also laugh and be human, was priceless.