Top 3 Travel Writing Faux Pas
You’ve got your coffee in hand, laptop at your fingertips, and if you’re lucky, an ergonomic office chair. You’re dreaming of that next big vacation–and maybe if you hit this travel client’s sweet spot, you’ll be able to explore a few exotic destinations of your own, rather than Googling them for your research.
What many travel writers don’t realize (or forget over time) is that in the travel industry, writing content is less about sparkling blue waters and more about audience targeting, detailed research, and a good feel for your client’s style. It’s about adding a few highly-specialized skills to your toolbox so you can hit the mark every time.
Steering clear of these travel writing faux pas is a great way to dust off the skills you already own and polish them up a bit.
Treating your audience like they’re dumb.
Make sure you know exactly who you’re writing to, or get as close to that mark as possible. Would-be visitors to a resort in Bali likely don’t need a paragraph on how blue the waters are and how relaxing it’ll be to lounge around beside them. Offer specifics. Similarly, experienced business travellers are unlikely to need advice on finding the right gate at LAX.
The reverse is also true: for that resort article, don’t speak to the 5% of your audience who happen to be experts on Balinese history. Keep this in mind when you’re tempted to flaunt your foreign-language skills or to offer your audience a detailed biodiversity lesson. Know your audience every single time.
Making unfounded assumptions.
No matter how logical your assumption may seem, don’t take it for granted. Lonely Planet author Celeste Brash recounted a story on learning (the hard way) not to swim in an African river; though it looked inviting and her driver said it was safe, it contained a several-foot-long caiman (a type of crocodile). Guidebook readers now enjoy not having to make that discovery on their own.
Just because there are beautiful blue waters doesn’t mean they’re great for snorkeling. Just because you’re in Mexico doesn’t mean all the locals at your destination will speak Spanish. It’s particularly easy to overgeneralize when you’re writing from that ergonomic office chair, but it can make you look like an idiot. Depending on the type of content you’re working on, stick to the information your client provides or that which you’ve actually researched.
Romance copy is one thing. Copy that makes a destination seem like an unattainable castle in the sky? Not necessarily so great for business. When you’re writing about destinations, resorts, or hotels, you need to keep things real even while singing their praises; otherwise, the picture you’re painting for your audience turns into an ephemeral blob of perfection. Most clients aren’t looking for that type of content.
By consistently adding concrete detail and digging up facts to back up your glamour, you’ll create more engaging content that allows prospective guests to visualize a real, attractive place–not a dreamworld.
Writer Bio: Steffani J is a part-time content writer who loves to drink tea and create content, but struggles with one-liners.