The best travel writing makes you want to visit the place you’re reading about. It’s really that simple. But great travel copywriting isn’t easy. There is so much travel content out there that it’s hard to come up with a new way of describing a beautiful beach or chic hotel that hasn’t been done before.
One of the best pieces of advice is to avoid clichés. Unfortunately, the travel sector is packed with hackneyed language: all beaches are likened to paradise; the water has to be crystal-clear and the food is always to die for. You won’t inspire people with well-worn phrases like this. Tone is crucial: it needs to be authoritative but friendly and sell the destination but avoid the hard sell. The following examples show just how effective great copywriting can be.
12HRS is a great site for those planning a short break. As the name suggests, it recommends the 12 best places to visit, eat and shop in a single day, with a new idea for each hour. The tone is great – reading up on places to go feels like you’re chatting to a friend over coffee, which engenders warmth and trust. The site also has info on basic phrases, local currency and insider info, and even a Spotify playlist featuring local bands and artists. Informative but informal, 12HRS is a highly effective travel site.
Snippet: ‘Danes are a stylish bunch and they are perhaps the most laid-back dressers in Scandinavia. Colorful sneakers are the way to go for both women and men; the rest of your outfit can be black as night.’
It’s hard to separate the fact from the fiction when deciding where to go on holiday – some travel sites are so overwhelmingly positive that customers quite rightly feel suspicious. i-escape is different. It features a hand-picked selection of independent hotels with feedback and ratings from people who have actually been there, while the highs/lows section gives an at-a-glance feel of each hotel. With travel copywriting, honesty is always the best policy.
Snippet: ‘The friendly, bohemian vibe means sociable couples and single travellers will feel very much at home here. The balmy roof terrace and fairylight-strung lawn are conducive to lazy drinks with other like-minded guests, and breakfasts are hearty affairs served by discreet staff who leave you to your own devices.’
Just like the rest of its website, the quality of writing in The Guardian’s holiday retail arm is top-notch. Evocative and atmospheric, the descriptions of its holidays – a mixture of exotic treks and tours along with more traditional getaways – draw the customer in. If you’re considering a long-haul trip, you have to have confidence in the company you’re booking with, and The Guardian’s site overdelivers. Detailed itineraries and maps are a further plus.
Snippet: ‘We continue up the valley towards Langtang. The walk starts off easily, following an undulating trail through Sherpagoan and into the forest, past Rimche and further on to Lama Hotel; a collection of lodges in a forest clearing. The trail undulates up further through the forest with glimpses of the mountains ahead.’
If you’re unsure where to book, Lonely Planet is an excellent place to start. It made its name with its peerless selection of guide books covering all major countries and cities, but its website is now the go-to place for authoritative destination guides. You can book via Lonely Planet, but you never feel like they’re chasing a sale while browsing – the overriding feel is that you’re in safe hands with people who really know what they’re talking about.
Snippet: ‘The last remaining wonder of the ancient world; for nearly 4000 years, the extraordinary shape, impeccable geometry and sheer bulk of the Giza Pyramids have invited the obvious questions: ‘How were we built, and why?’. Centuries of research have given us parts of the answer.’
The homepage of Hipmunk doesn’t wow at first glance, with its standard flight/hotel/car search box found on most aggregator sites. But what really makes this site shine is its guide section, Tailwind, which is crammed with useful hints and tips, such as the cheapest time of year to fly, or how to find the best travel deals. Spending an hour on Tailwind feels like you’ve been granted access to some of the travel industry’s best-kept secrets, which is a seriously impressive achievement!
Snippet: ‘New York City emits a magnetism unlike any other city in the world. Its busy-bodied inhabitants march to a collective beat, driven to inspire, create, and resolve. Whether you’re visiting Manhattan for vacation or catching up with local clients, we’re willing to wager that you’ll feel energized by this city, too.’
Travel lovers have no shortage of options when booking a trip, so you’ll have to work hard to make your content stand out from the rest. But while competition is strong, the sites above show that by following some simple rules, you can win customers’ trust and convince them to choose you when planning their next getaway. All aboard!