Thursday, June 20, 2024

How Hotels Can Enliven their Travel Content

A regular column by the content writing experts World Words

There has never been so much travel content at our fingertips. Every day, hotel, travel and news websites publish reams of articles and blogs on everything from the best festivals on the Costa del Sol to things to do in Timbuktu. And with so much written travel content out there jockeying for readers’ attention, it takes a little extra effort to make your hotel’s copy attract your target reader’s eye, mind and – ultimately – wallet.

To stand out from the crowd, you need to create high-value, entertaining and well-written content that readers will want to devour. Easier said than done, you may rightly remark. But it’s far from impossible; implementing just a few simple steps can help you elevate your hotel’s written offerings, whether that be on your hotel blog, in print brochures or on social media platforms. We’ve put together a checklist below to help you with the process.

1. Start with a bang

As they scan through the opening paragraph, the reader is already making an unconscious judgement call about whether to keep reading or to bounce so it’s important to capture their attention immediately. Why not start your hotel’s blog posts with a quote that compels people to read more and discover the context? Alternatively, begin things in media res, a fancy literary term that translates to “in the middle of things”. A simple chronological narration or tired summation of the following points will have people hitting the ‘X’, so find new and interesting ways to keep people engaged.

2. Double down on detail

People don’t read your hotel travel content simply to hear some pretty words strung poetically together; they want to find out what they can expect if they stay in your establishment. The more specific you are, the more flavour you’ll give your copy. This varies according to the type of content you are writing. For example, destination guides for your guests should guide (the clue’s in the name) them around nearby sights they will be seeing. Therefore, the details should be on things like historical context and non-visible information; things that add to and complement the experience. Blogs posts and descriptive web copy, on the other hand, are designed to transport readers on the journey with you, so add as much colour and visual detail as possible. This will capture the essence of a place and make readers feel they’re right there.

3. Trust your readers

One of the oldest maxims in writing is “show, don’t tell”. In short, it means the best writing doesn’t simply spell out conclusions, but leads readers to their own. Instead of using the word ‘luxurious’ or ‘plush’ to describe your hotel’s cocktail bar, tell them about the high-backed burgundy velvet corner booths, the polished marble table tops and the bar’s signature Champagne cocktail; the vast majority of readers will infer the luxuriousness without the writer making it that explicit. Guardian contributor Mike Carter believes that reading the very best travel content is like “eavesdropping on a conversation, or being shown something secret and magical. People don’t like being told what to think”. Readers won’t engage with simple expressions of emotion; you must make them genuinely feel it.

4. Vary your tone

Just because your hotel is based in the wilds of Alaska, not every sentence you write needs to convey the jaw-dropping nature of the scenery. If the tone is consistently reverent, then it becomes a little wearisome for the reader. Don’t be afraid to use a little humour to punctuate the pomposity. We can’t all be Bill Bryson, but throwing in stray observations and witty asides is more rewarding to write, as well as to read. One easy way to do this is to be as honest about the challenges of the local area as you are celebratory of its virtues; the eco-credentials or your Amazon lodge may be laudable, but that doesn’t mean you should sweep the less convenient aspects under the carpet – your target audience will probably understand and perhaps even appreciate the fact that there is no Wi-Fi and limited electricity.

5. Flee from clichés

An overused phrase, poorly employed, can ruin an otherwise entertaining piece of travel writing. Far from adding colour to your piece, overused words and phrases like “bustling” and “azure” can instantly make your prose seem beige. Instead, rummage through your vocabulary and think imaginatively about how you can better express the local area atmosphere. You’ll find it doesn’t take much more effort to be a lot more original.

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