I have strong opinions about how to write travel sales copy—so strong that years ago I wrote:
MICHAEL’S RULES FOR WRITING TRAVEL SALES COPY.
(Written for internal use to save time and keep my pulse rate down when editing copy.)
Rule #1: Avoid clichés like the plague
Cliché: An expression or idea that has become weak, tiresome, stale, trite and hackneyed, through much repetition.
What makes the use of clichés so irresistible is that everybody uses them. Most of us have a natural desire to fit in, so we cannot resist using them as well. One reason why clichés are as common as dirt is that even though we know we should not use them, we often do not recognize them. Read the complete article.
When a friend told me that a U.S. based operator had hired a high priced company to write their copy, I checked out their web site to see what high priced copy writing looked like.
Turns out the first paragraph I read broke all my rules. That got me to wondering about my rules. After all the purpose of the copy is to help prospective buyers choose the right trip for them and the persuade them to buy my trip as opposed to my competition’s.
My rules are much more a reflection of my taste than objective evidence that they are more effective than some other style of writing travel sales copy. So I decided to use this weeks post to ask all of you to give me frank feedback on which writing style you think is more effective.
First I’ll show you the original copy. Then I’ll show you the same copy with my edits. Finally, I’ll explain my reasoning.
The original copy:
Come face to face with spider, howler and white-faced monkeys in Corcovado National Park, the crown jewel of Costa Rica, deemed “one of the most biologically intense places on earth” by National Geographic. Listen for the rumble of Arenal Volcano and watch at night as smoldering red boulders pour from her mouth.
The copy with my edits:
Search for spider, howler and white-faced monkeys in Corcovado National Park, deemed “one of the most biologically intense places on earth” by National Geographic. Listen for the rumble of Arenal Volcano. On a clear night you may see smoldering red boulders pour from its mouth.
My reasons for the edits:
I replaced, “Come face to face with, with, “Search for,” because there is a reasonable chance that visitors will not even see three species of monkeys in a short visit to Corcovado, and “come face to face” is hype.
I deleted, “the crown jewel of Costa Rica,” because it is a cliché and a matter of opinion.
I replaced, “and watch at night as smoldering red boulders pour,” with, “On a clear night you may see smoldering red boulders pour,” because, according to our head guide, Carlos Gomez, visitors who spend 2 nights at Arenal see this between 40 and 50 percent of the time.
I replaced, “from her mouth,” with, “from its mouth.” because volcanoes are masculine in Spanish and sexless in English.
So, am my being too purist and picky or is this kind of thing worth worrying about?
Will you look at travel sales copy differently the next time you read some?