I’ve been looking at what other travel copywriters have been up to. What struck me most forcibly was the difference in the type of work we do.
It’s worth pointing out that there’s a major divide between ‘travel writers’ who go intrepidly into the world, Marco Polo style in search of the true essence of travel, and ‘travel copywriters’ like myself who focus on the packages and services that clients provide.
For travel writers, there’s a sense that they’re following a dream – ‘a calling’ if you will – that looks just a tad narcissistic to an armchair copywriter like myself. The claim that “As a travel writer, I’m not in it for the money” rings a little hollow. If it’s not for the money, then it’s obviously to satisfy a personal longing of some sort, or to prove a point to the world.
If that sounds like sour grapes, it certainly is not. ‘On location’ certainly has its plus points, but most travel industry clients would have their own people on-the-spot in whatever locations in the world they’re offering their holidays. As with other copywriting clients in non-travel sectors, it makes sense for the experienced experts to brief me – an experienced travel copywriter – about their business.
True travel writers often have their own agendas. Some include photography as part of their service – and why not! If you’re peering into a volcano, over a majestic waterfall or stuck up K2 in Nepal, you may as well back up your words with some breath-taking photos!
Most travel writers, I would guess, yearn to write books about their experiences (and this is certainly something most of us would envy). However, travelling the world writing compelling prose about strange people in strange locations is a far cry from following a tight copywriting brief about how a family of four can have a great two-week holiday on a fixed budget.
To be a good travel COPYWRITER, as with other forms of copywriting, entails a certain amount of discipline. I’m not saying that travel writers aren’t disciplined (they have to be!) – but travel WRITING tends to be more self-indulgent. While travel articles in the ‘travel writing’ genre can be a great read (in the Sunday supplements etc), it’s not what the Smith family from Birmingham see themselves doing in late-July.
Travel copywriting, in the main, is about creating an achievable dream in a two-week break that will be fun, risk-free and packed with a great choice of amenities in a social environment.
There are of course many variations on many holidaying themes – action holidays, honeymoon breaks, short winter breaks… the list is endless. On the whole, however, the copywriting skills required should focus on the client’s USPs and not on the impossible fantasy world of jungles, deserts and glaciers.
To find out more about Mike Beeson’s approach to travel copywriting, visit Buzzwords’ Travel Copywriter web page.