Cut the cliché: How to make your travel writing soar

by Elliott Fudge

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When was the last time you went off the beaten path to a village forgotten by time? Or have you discovered hidden gems steeped in history? Surrounded yourself with diverse cultures and friendly locals? Unfortunately, so has everyone else.

With the help of social media, the travel sector has flourished in the 21st century. After all, who can resist carousels of alluring travel content that so often fills our timelines? And with distant holiday locations often selling themselves, why worry if the writing that goes with it is the same as everyone else’s?

But attitudes to travel are changing. People want to travel much more sustainably, and more than half of people in Expedia’s recent Sustainable Travel Survey are looking to visit lesser-known destinations. Once there, travellers prefer unique and authentic experiences, rather than the mass tourism trends of the pre-pandemic period. Yesterday’s travel clichés just don’t make the cut anymore. Fail to adapt to what your customers demand, and your business could be left behind.

Crowding out

The travel sector is extremely competitive, and with so many businesses trying to crowd each other out, it’s only too easy to resort to clichéd language that appeals to the widest possible audience.

Describing a destination as ‘having something for everyone’ or a viewpoint as being ‘breathtaking’ is easy to understand. But engaging? Not so much. While travel tropes can help make distant travel locations both accessible and desirable, if tomorrow’s travellers are looking for more unique and authentic experiences, these worn-out clichés just don’t resonate. No matter how ‘bustling’ and ‘vibrant’ they are.

But this isn’t to say that great travel writing needs to oversimplify the travel experience, as the Scottish government’s £125,000 ‘Welcome to Scotland’ strapline might suggest. Instead, cutting through to new travellers means businesses need to strike the right tone between clichés and oversimplification.

Painting the picture

To speak to today’s conscientious travellers, your business can’t simply tell customers about the unique identity of a destination, it needs to show it. And it’s here that having the right travel writing can help your business thrive.

While telling potential travellers about local food markets from afar (‘sample X’s lively food markets’) might be the norm, it’s going to struggle to connect with younger, ethically-minded travellers looking for added authenticity and dynamism. And with 98% of younger age groups ranking ‘eating local cuisine’ as very important to their holidays, engaging young travellers is vital.

Instead, bring the human element of your destinations to the fore. Highlight the real faces and stories behind X’s food markets, and walk potential customers around the market, exploring the sights, smells and sounds that come with it (‘weave through colour-laden food stalls run by haggling locals as the smell of wild garlic fills the air’).

Bring human stories to the forefront and make distant locations that much more relatable, without oversimplifying them, and you’ll quickly have a far more engaging tone when it comes to speaking to new customers.

Four tips for creating the right travel copy

Striking the right tone can make all the difference when it comes to keeping your existing customers and earning new ones. And while finding an authentic voice may bring challenges, there are some simple steps your business can take to quickly start making the right impact through your travel copy.

  • Show don’t tell: It’s not enough to tell potential customers just how unique somewhere is – you need to show it. Put people on the ground and be explicit about the senses and feelings of being there.
  • Write thematically: Whether your travellers will be relaxing on the beach or exploring a new city, focus your copy on themes that your audience cares about. Highlight the best local food markets, most popular landmarks, or most Instagrammable shots as a way of enticing your customers to want to see more.
  • Pace effectively: Pace your copy in a way that’s suitable for your audience. Firing off a quick list of sights and attractions creates a to-do list, depriving them of the opportunity to travel slower. Stick to relevant themes and take your time on them.
  • Develop a consistent tone of voice: All travel is unique, but when copy is inconsistent and doesn’t strike the right tone with the people reading it, the nuances and intricacies of special travel experiences can be lost. Speak to your audience with the right words and tone, and you’ll deliver far more meaningful travel copy.

The changing face of travel

The way we travel is changing, and so is the travel writing that turns heads. With winning words, your business will reap the rewards of meaningful travel copy that stands out from the crowd.

Find out how our travel writers can help deliver travel copy with meaning.

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