Monday 9 January 2012

Take a break from hackneyed travel copy

By avoiding overused phrases and describing destinations in a fresh way, you can revitilise your travel copy.

Where can you go to absolutely guarantee ‘crystal clear water’, ‘friendly locals’ and all manner of ‘breathtaking views’? Somewhere ‘off the beaten track’? Or perhaps somewhere in the ‘beating heart of the city’?  The standard travel brochure, that’s where.

Unfriendly locals and unspectacular views
Anyone who’s ever written any travel copy will be guilty of using some of these gems. I’ll hold my hands up and admit I’ve placed a few hotels in ‘picture perfect’ locations.

The problem with using these trite phrases is that, they’re so worn out they’ve all but lost their meaning. And if copy loses its meaning, it ceases to do its job. When a consumer reads a travel brochure they should be able to feel the sand beneath their feet and taste the local cuisine. The words must evoke the destination in such a way that the consumer isn’t just willing to hand over hundreds or thousands of pounds – they’re eager to. 

Fresh, dynamic language is the only way to achieve this. In late 2011 we were given this very brief by Planet Cruise. In addition to evoking their destinations and the cruise experience, they felt they offered a different proposition to competitors. However, this wasn’t shining through in their literature. Our task: make the selling points come alive.

Johnnie Boden, Richard Branson, Jenny West
We racked our brains on how to do this before realising the answer was staring us right in the face. Literally.

The company’s founder, Jenny West, hosts a weekly show on a shopping channel. Her infectious enthusiasm meant she’d picked up something of a following. What’s more, she embodied everything that was great about Planet Cruise: she was fun, knowledgeable and utterly devoted to cruising. So we suggested we write the copy as if it was penned by her. She became the company’s new tone of voice.

This departure from standard travel copy gave the brochure a new vitality. Our new tone was quirky, enthusiastic and a little playful. But it was always well informed and never flippant. It gave a fresh energy to the products.

Suit not sombrero
Of course, this route isn’t always an option. For a start, not all companies have such an obvious spokesperson like Jenny. And secondly, not all target audiences appreciate a slightly offbeat tone.

Last year also saw us encounter the more corporate side of travel copy. We were charged with writing the company profile for Dubai based luxury hotel brand, Jumeirah. The brochure was mainly to be used as a point of reference for the CEO when he was in meetings with potential investors and business partners.

This dictated that it had to be more about cold, hard facts and less about warm, soft beaches. Of course, that’s not to say it could be completely devoid of flair.

Despite being aimed at different audiences, both brochures were selling distinctiveness. By avoiding the laborious, cliché-ridden sentences and evoking destinations in new ways, they both have a far higher chance of doing just that.

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