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A Very Whidbey Escape

This close-to-Seattle getaway makes you feel so far away

One of the greatest challenges in writing about well-known travel destinations is finding ways to describe what first-time visitors will discover without insulting the intelligence of those who have already been there. When I wrote this article for AAA Washington's website, I combined information on recent changes throughout this popular Washington state getaway destination with a fresh look at some of the iconic experiences that stand the test of time, in terms of appealing to newcomers and repeat visitors.

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Walla Walla Getaway 

Chefs serve appetizing new reasons to visit

A wave of farm-to-table restaurant openings served as the hook for this destination profile of Walla Walla, Washington, which appeared in print and online for AAA Washington and its Journey magazine. In recent years, national travel magazines have been portraying Walla Walla's wine industry as a new phenomenon. However, the proliferation of wineries—about 120 at last count—across the Walla Walla Valley is old news to Journey's regional audience. People who live in Washington and North Idaho already know there are a lot of wineries in Walla Walla. This article helps puts the wine scene in context, while providing tips on the broad range of activities available in this destination.

Next Stop: Osoyoos, BC 

Watersports, wine and golf reign in Canada's only desert

Sometimes, the most exotic escapes are right in your own backyard, or, in the case of this casual resort town, just across border. Osoyoos, British Columbia, is one of those towns that catches people's eyes when they see it on a map, if only because of the spelling of its unique name. Those who live in the Pacific Northwest are more familiar with Kelowna, because it is the largest city in BC's Okanagan Valley. For this article, I focused on the laid back pace of a visit to Kelowna's lesser-known cousin.

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A Sobering Task

Washington's DREs step up in the fight against impaired driving

Despite widespread awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence, drug- and alcohol-impairment remain leading factors in fatal traffic collisions in Washington state. In this long-form feature for Western Journey, I recounted my experiences on a ride-along with a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE), shedding light on the complexities of enforcing impaired-driving laws. My goal was to create an editorial complement to AAA's ongoing PSAs against impaired driving. The article was recognized as a Maggie Award finalist for feature writing, in 2017.

French Connections

Two thousand years of tradition unfold on a Rhône River cruise

River cruising was taking the travel industry by storm when I wrote this article for Journey magazine's special travel issue, which offered enhanced international-travel coverage each January to support increased travel promotions by AAA's in-house travel agency. Though we don't have hard numbers to scientifically track responses, our travel agency reported a surge in river-cruise bookings after the issue containing this article was released.

High-Performance Safety

The 6 most-important driving
lessons I learned at Pacific Raceways

In the interests of reinforcing AAA's traffic-safety advocacy, I signed up for a driving clinic at Pacific Raceways. This article reveals how certain safe-driving tips are just as relevant on the morning commute as they are on a racetrack.

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Dashboard Distractions

In-car information systems might not to be as safe as they seem

Everyone loves the convenience that technology brings to our lives. But is it possible that some of the hands-free devices showing up in new cars are putting unwitting motorists at risk? This article focuses on an installment in a series of studies that attempted to answer this very question. In the process of providing valuable information to readers who might have just automatically assumed that their in-car information systems were risk-free, this article also helped reinforce AAA's reputation as an expert in auto technology and traffic safety.

Cost Control 

The dos and don'ts of managing your car insurance rates

At the time this article was written, motorists were seeing their auto-insurance premiums climb at alarmingly high levels. (We still are.) Even those with spotless records were getting a higher bill with each renewal. This article, developed in conjunction AAA's our in-house insurance experts, offered sensible tips on steps people could take to minimize their cost increases, without sabotaging their long-term interests. This article is a good example of my approach to content marketing during my time at AAA. Rather than promoting a specific product, we were positioning AAA as an expert in our field, building brand affinity by reinforcing the trust that our audience had in the organization.

High Octane Intelligence

The benefits of premium fuel don't always justify the price

Most people have an opinion on whether it makes sense to pay more for higher octane fuel, but very few of these opinions are based on fact. This article shared findings from AAA-conducted research that dispels the notion that higher octane translates to higher efficiency, providing readers with information that allowed them to make an informed decision on something they encountered in their daily lives.

Bracing for the Big One

Key things to know about earthquake insurance

How does earthquake insurance work? It's a simple question that many homeowners ask themselves from time to time, usually after a big earthquake somewhere else garners media attention. This article provides "snackable" information about a complex topic. It appeared in print and online, and it was also included in an email marketing campaign. I later learned, anecdotally, that AAA's insurance agency experienced a surge in calls about earthquake insurance after this article was published.

Areas of expertise: travel, insurance, auto tech, 
business, food, wine, sports, outdoors and more >>>

T: (425) 351-6979 | rob.bhatt@comcast.net

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