Honesty is the Best Policy: Why You Must Always Tell the Truth in Travel Content

When it comes to travel content writing, it can sometimes be tempting to massage the truth about a destination, resort or airline. After all, it isn’t always an easy task to seek out the positives of a grey hotel block in Benidorm that’s six miles from the beach; omitting some information or smoothing the rough edges can seem the simpler option. But travel content has a duty and obligation to be informative and accurate for its audience, as well as inspiring and salesy for its client. Not only is giving an accurate picture the moral thing to do, but it also ensures audience expectations are realistic, allowing them to make an informed choice about their travel arrangements.

We asked our expert travel content writers at World Words for their advice about how to ensure your travel copy is always honest. Taking the example of a hotel, we collated five of their top tips on writing truthful travel content.

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1. Be accurate
Vague phrases such as ‘a stone’s throw from the beach’ are often utilised to confuse potential customers. How far can you throw a stone? Are you allowed a catapult? Arriving at a hotel to discover the beach is a taxi ride away or virtually inaccessible across a main road is sure to make duped customers see red. Be accurate on distances, and customers can decide where their priorities lie. If you offer useful information about easy-to-use transport options instead of masking the truth, the fact the beach isn’t ‘right on your doorstep’ may not be a make-or-break factor.

2. Accentuate the positive
In the course of being honest, make sure you don’t undersell yourself. You can still present the reader with all of the key information, while finding the positives among potential negatives. For example, a hotel may not have its own restaurant, but the local area may be full of fantastic lesser-visited bistros, making your hotel an ideal base for foodies. Equally, the hotel may be far from the city centre, but is then closer to some out-of-town attractions, while the fact it isn’t surrounded by tourists is a selling point in itself. And while the hotel may be basic and no-frills, it is also likely to be significantly cheaper than the big brands. And that could be just what the audience is looking for.

3. Find its USP
Sometimes a hotel’s one big unique selling point (USP) isn’t easy to find. But the fact the hotel exists at all means that it has at least one great feature that brings in the business, and this is what a travel content writer should focus on. Do a little digging and you’ll find there is one reason that keeps cropping up that makes people visit, whether its the location, the history or the price point. This process can be applied to hotels across the spectrum; a five-star resort isn’t bringing in business only because it has marble en-suite rooms, turndown service and a great breakfast, because every five-star hotel in the area will have much the same. It’s something rarer, like an unusual spa concept, or a Michelin-starred chef, or a whisky tasting room, that tips the balance in their favour.

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4. Quality not quantity
While some travel clients may want you to write thousands of words about their hotel, sometimes writing brief but high quality content is the right approach for their audience. Particularly when a hotel does not have a plethora of headline features. Hone in on the selling points of the hotel and convey them in the most easily-digestible way (ideally with a few keywords for good measure), without covering them in unnecessary fluff that will repel readers. For sales copy, you should mostly stick to the facts, without offering too much (clearly biased) personal opinion.

5. Have integrity
Ultimately, being dishonest about a hotel will only have a negative impact. In the past, presenting your budget B&B as a four-star hotel may result in some disgruntled customers who will swear never to return. But today the consequences are much further-reaching, with sites like TripAdvisor allowing them to vent their frustration to a coterie of potential future customers too. So have integrity. Your hotel is what it is, so give an honest reflection of what you offer… then people can take it or leave it. You’ll probably find there’s an audience out there just for you.

At World Words, we value honesty, so we can truthfully say that we have written some great travel content for hotels and other travel brands. You’ll find them on our portfolio. Or follow us on Twitter for all our latest news.

— Words by guest contributor Heidi Cross.

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