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How to write compelling destination
guides about the same old places
@danbrotzel
#DigitalTravel2015
“Unspoilt beaches and
...
Who are Sticky Content?
Who we work with…
© 2014 Sticky Content Ltd. Credit Image
Our travel and leisure clients include…
Destinations guide: the challenge
• ‘These places all look the same to me’
• ‘But it’s all been said before’
• ‘Everything...
Cliches to avoid…
Totally unique
Breathtaking views
Stunning vistas
Bustling marketplace Eaterie
Ticks every box
Lush gree...
“ornate”
© PAImages
= “I don’t really
know anything
about
architecture”
“desert island”
© PAImages
= “any island
that might be a
bit far away and
slightly exotic”
“stunning vista”
© PAImages
= ‘writer doesn’t
want to say
“view” again’
“hidden gem”
© PAImages
= “used
indiscriminately for
somewhere that’s
quite nice”
“like travelling
back in time”
© PAImages
= “could do with
a lick of paint”
“rich cultural heritage”
© PAImages
= “no time to research
the history or
traditions of the place”
“golden beaches”
© PAImages
= “default descriptor
for all sandy beaches,
even the white ones”
“city of contrasts”
© PAImages
= “city contains a
few things that are
slightly different
from each other”
6 ways to meet the challenge
• know your users’ needs
• find your voice
• look for the telling detail
• sound like you’ve ...
Know your user’s needs
© PAImages
Know your users’ needs
• who are you writing for?
• where are they at in the cycle? Are they
comparison shopping? Browsing...
Find your voice
© PAImages
Your distinctive flavour
• create a point of difference with your own
tone of voice
• work out what your voice is – then h...
‘When we write, we
want to sound x’
Acme
Travel
Friendly
Calm
IntelligentTransparent
Quietly
confident
Polite
Cordial
Warm
Affectionate
Good
mates
Confidential
Intimate
Friendly
The telling detail
© PAImages
With its beaches, mountains, historic towns
and villages and incredible cuisine, xxxxx
has something for everyone.
Where’s...
Not everybody wants the same from their
holiday; some like pure relaxation, others
like to pack in as much adventure and
e...
Sample xxx’s vibrant mix of clubs, bars and
restaurants. From curry to classy cocktails
there’s something for everyone..
W...
 There are 6 dining options, so there are
always plenty of different dishes for you to try.
 There are 6 dining options,...
Sound like you’ve
been there
© PAImages
Sound like you’ve been there
• no substitute for firsthand knowledge – or
at least the impression of it
• talk to reps and...
Use formats for scale
© PAImages
Content formats for scale
• templating your guides brings usability,
seo and production planning benefits
• copy formats (...
Your content toolkit
© PAImages
Your content toolkit
• language guidelines – points of style, plus
words to use / avoid
• copy template
• practical tone o...
Acme
Travel
Friendly
Calm
IntelligentTransparent
Quietly
confident
How we want to sound
The way we write is ALWAYS... The way we write is NEVER...
Can-do Practical, proactive, energetic,
re...
Proofing checklist
 links
 telephone numbers
 proper names, especially destinations,
addresses, hotels etc
 headlines,...
In a nutshell…
© PAImages
Effective destination guides: checklist
 Do we have a clear sense of who we’re
writing for, and where they’re at?
 Does ...
Come get your free content audit
Email us for a free audit* of your content:
• 1 hour’s review by one of our content
exper...
Sticky Content
emailus@stickycontent.com
@stickycontent
www.stickycontent.com
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brot...
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‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brotzel | Digital Travel Summit

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Sticky Content co-founder and Econsultancy blogger Dan Brotzel looks at a classic travel copy challenge – breathing new life into well-trodden destination guides. Get ideas on how to:
• approach familiar places in fresh ways by creating variation within parameters
• use copy formats to make your content more usable
• use tone of voice to create a point of difference
• carry out effective QA even at high volumes

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‘Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town…’ How to create fresh copy about the same old places | Dan Brotzel | Digital Travel Summit

  1. 1. How to write compelling destination guides about the same old places @danbrotzel #DigitalTravel2015 “Unspoilt beaches and azure skies”
  2. 2. Who are Sticky Content?
  3. 3. Who we work with…
  4. 4. © 2014 Sticky Content Ltd. Credit Image Our travel and leisure clients include…
  5. 5. Destinations guide: the challenge • ‘These places all look the same to me’ • ‘But it’s all been said before’ • ‘Everything we write sounds like a cliché’ • ‘This copy could be about anywhere…’ • ‘But I’ve never even been there!’ • ‘Oh, and we need 400 of these guides before the new season launch!’
  6. 6. Cliches to avoid… Totally unique Breathtaking views Stunning vistas Bustling marketplace Eaterie Ticks every box Lush greenery Something for everyoneUnspoilt beaches To die for Ideal destination Blend of ancient and modern Rich cultural heritage
  7. 7. “ornate” © PAImages
  8. 8. = “I don’t really know anything about architecture”
  9. 9. “desert island” © PAImages
  10. 10. = “any island that might be a bit far away and slightly exotic”
  11. 11. “stunning vista” © PAImages
  12. 12. = ‘writer doesn’t want to say “view” again’
  13. 13. “hidden gem” © PAImages
  14. 14. = “used indiscriminately for somewhere that’s quite nice”
  15. 15. “like travelling back in time” © PAImages
  16. 16. = “could do with a lick of paint”
  17. 17. “rich cultural heritage” © PAImages
  18. 18. = “no time to research the history or traditions of the place”
  19. 19. “golden beaches” © PAImages
  20. 20. = “default descriptor for all sandy beaches, even the white ones”
  21. 21. “city of contrasts” © PAImages
  22. 22. = “city contains a few things that are slightly different from each other”
  23. 23. 6 ways to meet the challenge • know your users’ needs • find your voice • look for the telling detail • sound like you’ve been there • use formats for scale • your content toolkit
  24. 24. Know your user’s needs © PAImages
  25. 25. Know your users’ needs • who are you writing for? • where are they at in the cycle? Are they comparison shopping? Browsing? Have they booked (or are about to)? • what do they want? Top-level inspiration? Local knowledge? Facts and practical details? • you can do all these – just not in the same guide…
  26. 26. Find your voice © PAImages
  27. 27. Your distinctive flavour • create a point of difference with your own tone of voice • work out what your voice is – then how to roll it out • a strong voice is both consistent and flexible • use tonal value and before/after good/bad examples can
  28. 28. ‘When we write, we want to sound x’
  29. 29. Acme Travel Friendly Calm IntelligentTransparent Quietly confident
  30. 30. Polite Cordial Warm Affectionate Good mates Confidential Intimate Friendly
  31. 31. The telling detail © PAImages
  32. 32. With its beaches, mountains, historic towns and villages and incredible cuisine, xxxxx has something for everyone. Where’s this?
  33. 33. Not everybody wants the same from their holiday; some like pure relaxation, others like to pack in as much adventure and excitement as possible, and still others like to make it an educational experience. Whatever you want from a holiday, xxx has something for everyone. Where’s this?
  34. 34. Sample xxx’s vibrant mix of clubs, bars and restaurants. From curry to classy cocktails there’s something for everyone.. Where’s this?
  35. 35.  There are 6 dining options, so there are always plenty of different dishes for you to try.  There are 6 dining options, including a rooftop Italian à la carte and a poolside barbecue grill.
  36. 36. Sound like you’ve been there © PAImages
  37. 37. Sound like you’ve been there • no substitute for firsthand knowledge – or at least the impression of it • talk to reps and staff on the ground – even a brief email questionnaire can help you get up-to-date local knowledge • use social media sites, google images and expert amateur/expat bloggers
  38. 38. Use formats for scale © PAImages
  39. 39. Content formats for scale • templating your guides brings usability, seo and production planning benefits • copy formats (or templates) teach people how to use your site • it’s easy for people to move between different examples of same type
  40. 40. Your content toolkit © PAImages
  41. 41. Your content toolkit • language guidelines – points of style, plus words to use / avoid • copy template • practical tone of voice guidelines • proofing checklist
  42. 42. Acme Travel Friendly Calm IntelligentTransparent Quietly confident
  43. 43. How we want to sound The way we write is ALWAYS... The way we write is NEVER... Can-do Practical, proactive, energetic, resourceful. Pedantic, inflexible, lethargic, unrealistic. Supportive Co-operative, empathetic, encouraging, trusting. Cold, unhelpful, officious, assumptive, patronising Straightforward Direct, economical, conversational, likeable, calm. Formal, flat, official, jargon-laden, terse/blunt. Transparent Honest, professional, trustworthy, responsible. Evasive, obstructive, flaky.
  44. 44. Proofing checklist  links  telephone numbers  proper names, especially destinations, addresses, hotels etc  headlines, subheads, standfirsts  consistency with format  no banned words used
  45. 45. In a nutshell… © PAImages
  46. 46. Effective destination guides: checklist  Do we have a clear sense of who we’re writing for, and where they’re at?  Does this copy sound specific to the place, or is it too interchangeable?  Do we have a format to structure our info?  Have we focused on telling, local details rather than generic statements?  Could this copy have been written by any other brand? Does it sound like us?
  47. 47. Come get your free content audit Email us for a free audit* of your content: • 1 hour’s review by one of our content experts • you select area for review • we can come to you and present our findings • we’ll send you our upcoming e-book too… *limited offer, subject to availability
  48. 48. Sticky Content emailus@stickycontent.com @stickycontent www.stickycontent.com

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