The travel industry can be guilty of using a cliché or two.
From ‘hidden gem’ to ‘melting pot’, it’s understandably difficult to stay away from bog-standard vernacular when writing about the same places as every other travel brand out there.
So, how exactly do you sell a destination without reverting to clichés? What’s more, how do you adapt this copy to different channels? Here’s a run-down of some of the most inspirational brand travel copywriting and the reasons why I think it works.
Trains are dull – there’s no getting around it. Thankfully, Trainline aims to make the process of researching, booking, and travelling by train mildly more thrilling with a great tone of voice.
This goes for all channels, but nowhere more so than on its app, where it fuses functionality with a slightly cheeky personality. It avoids sounding dull by injecting words like ‘hooray’ into standard phrasing.
Meanwhile, it capitalises on the opportunity for long-form copy in its ‘What’s New’ pop-up, using pop-culture references and a personal tone to engage users.
Mr & Mrs Smith
Mr & Mrs Smith is an online travel agency that specialises in boutique and unique accommodation around the world. Its USP is that it is not your bog-standard travel agency – and it uses copywriting to continuously reflect this ‘exclusive’ nature.
It calls itself a ‘travel club’ and its customers ‘members’, building on the fact that each hotel is personally chosen and approved by the company. Meanwhile, its hotel descriptions use a conversational and almost intimate tone that’s designed to forge connections with consumers.
Mr & Mrs Smith describes itself a brand that cares about the little details, and this definitely comes across in the language it uses.
The ‘Smith Extra’ sections are particularly effective, evoking the idea that you’re getting an extra special service by booking with the brand.
Forget your average holiday – Intrepid Travel is all about selling life-changing experiences.
Unsurprisingly, its copywriting is littered with inspirational storytelling, building on the transformative power of getting away from it all.
— Intrepid Travel (@Intrepid_Travel) July 29, 2017
Its destination guides are engaging enough, however, its blog is where the most effective copy is found. This is because most of the articles are based on the personal experiences of the writers, which in turn, promotes a sense of real authenticity.
Personal reviews are now an increasingly vital tool for the travel industry. According to BrightScore, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
For Intrepid Travel, its online blog serves as a form of real social proof, with the experiences of others helping to inform and influence decisions.
We’ve previously written about how Expedia’s clever copywriting helps to increase conversions, but its offline work is also worth mentioning.
Print ads can be a great way to promote a company’s values, giving brands the opportunity to step back from the cluttered nature of online copy and send a clear, concise and subtle message to consumers.
Expedia’s 2013 print campaign involved using IATA codes on luggage tags to form phrases related to travel. Alongside the phrase ‘whatever floats your boat’, the ads effectively evoked the experience of airport travel and the things we all look forward to when going on holiday.
Lola is a new app that connects users with a team of live travel consultants to help plan and coordinate trips. It also uses AI technology to help understand travel preferences over time.
There’s no doubt that Lola is far removed from the typical online travel agency and this is reflected in the fresh and quirky nature of its copy. Its mission statement – ‘to make business travel buttery smooth’ – helps create a very slick image.
Furthermore, its hotel descriptions indicate a focus on the customer experience, detailing ‘why this hotel is right for you’. It also encourages natural conversation, reinforcing the fact that it provides ‘human-powered travel’.
Condé Nast Traveller
I often think Condé Nast Traveller goes a bit overboard on the old superlatives, focusing on the surface aesthetics of a place rather than what it actually offers visitors.
However, it does tend to nail the art of a good headline.
From ‘London’s loveliest restaurants with gardens’ to ’48 Scandi-style interiors you will feel calmer just looking at’, the headlines are not particularly clever (they’re sometimes far too wordy) but they manage to encapsulate a niche subject-matter in just a single phrase.
Researching travel can be a bit of a chore for some, but Black Tomato’s homepage is designed to naturally propel users into the search process.
It asks just two questions – ‘when would you like to travel?’ and ‘what is your reason for travel?’ – to encourage interaction, returning relevant ‘experiences’ to meet the user’s needs. And the emphasis is on the experience, of course, with Black Tomato aiming to target those who desire real authenticity.
The brand’s ‘Bucket List Ideas’ feature is also a nice example of inspirational content. Categorising experiences into things like ‘conquer the iconics’ and ‘wildlife encounters’, it helps to narrow down what could otherwise be an overwhelming amount of choice.
In stark contrast to Black Tomato, Busabout promotes an almost carefree attitude. Targeting young, adventurous fun-seekers, it users a light-hearted and energetic tone of voice to promote its various offerings.
— Busabout (@Busabout) June 28, 2017
It’s not often you hear a travel brand say that, instead of savouring wine, the best thing about the Rioja region of Spain is the festival where revellers ‘splash it all over the place and everyone gets wet, sticky and they all turn into a beautiful shade of purple!’
But in Busabout’s opinion – ‘what’s not to love?!’
With the infectious and boisterous nature of its copy, Busabout is an effective example of how to tap into the language of a specific audience and use it to engage with them.