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New(ish) research from Skift reveals a couple of interesting emerging trends among luxury travellers.

 

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, those of us born in the early 80s, are discovering that in an age of overstimulation, the blissful isolation you find by retreating into nature is the true luxury. Clearly, they’ve never seen Boorman’s Deliverance.

 

Through technology, human beings have never been more connected, but there’s a good argument that this same technology is also, at least in part, responsible for a disconnect with the natural world. Your average millennial can learn how to navigate a smartphone within seconds, but can they identify the different trees, or birdcalls in a forest? If they were shipwrecked on a desert island, could they build a shelter, hunt for food, or light a fire to cook it? I know how long I’d survive, and it’s a depressing thought.

 

Running toward nature, arms outstretched

 

Retreating into nature, those words I just used above, is kind of a misnomer actually. Millennial luxury travellers aren’t retreating, they’re running toward nature, arms outstretched. Wilderness immersion is a thing now. To learn bushcraft skills, like how to forage for food, find your way around using the stars, or how to catch a fish with your bare hands, these courses can have waiting lists of months. People sense that a connection has been broken, and maybe it worries them (see preppers) but more likely they see it as a wholesome form of de-stressing, and perhaps even a way of giving meaning to lives that can often seem relentlessly scheduled.

 

Self-built shelter

Nature’s luxury bolthole; image source

 

Which brings us to luxury travellers’ desire for personal fulfilment. See, the concept of experiential travel has been around for a while now. Doing and remembering something is better than owning something valuable, and then always worrying about losing it. Bespoke experiential travel has lost its exclusive label, and those who can afford it are now looking to level-up, to transformational experiences.

 

Self-sufficiency and rope-twirling

 

How many of us can honestly say we are the person we always wanted to be? Curated travel experiences are now seen be some as personal wish fulfilment, helping us change ourselves, upgrade our skills, personalities, and outlook on life. That might mean sunrise and sunset stretching on a deserted beach with an international yoga guru. It might mean one-on-one lessons with a Michelin-starred chef. It might involve learning self-sufficiency and rope-twirling on a working Texan cattle ranch.

 

Buffalo ranch

Oh yeah; image source

 

What does all this mean for luxury travel brands? It means looking at the experiences you sell, and how they can meaningfully, honestly, help your clients on the road to reconnecting with nature, and personal development. It means looking at the destinations, and the accommodations, that you offer and finding opportunities for zoning out and switching off in areas of pristine natural beauty. It means looking at escapism as an end in itself.

 

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There are online destination guides available for pretty much anywhere in the world today. I’ve personally written comprehensive guides to some very out-of-the-way places across the Americas, Australia, Africa and Europe, including several for one major travel company seeking to boost its SEO performance on car hire.

 

Destination guides can be extremely valuable for many businesses in the travel sector, from agencies to airlines and hotels, not just for SEO but also to showcase the breadth of your experience and knowledge to potential clients. Guides can describe countries, regions, cities or individual resorts, and contain as much or as little detail as you feel necessary. But as most well-known destinations have now been comprehensively covered, how do you make yours stand out?

 

Don’t write for search engines

 

Stuffing in as many keywords as you can will make the whole guide seem bland and generic. Create copy that you want people to read, enjoy and remember. That means accuracy, a mix of evergreen and topical content, and a tone of voice that suits your audience.

 

So who is your audience? It’s essential when crafting a destination guide to know exactly who you are writing for. After all, there’s little point in describing the wild nightlife of a Greek island if your clients tend to be looking for more sophisticated cultural activities. You can write separate guides for different types of traveller based on your customer profiles, or take one guide and divide it into sections appropriate to the types of client your business attracts.

 

 

How to write a Destination Guide

Paradise beach; image source

 

How to structure a destination guide

 

There are many ways that you can structure your destination guide, and once you’ve settled on a format, that structure should then be replicated across every guide you produce so that your website visitors know exactly where to find the information they want on each destination.

 

You might choose to break the guide down according to traveller-type, such as families, adrenaline-seekers or beach bums, or by type of holiday such as cultural, foodie and adventure.

 

Text can be broken up to make it more readable with subheadings, boxes, lists and images.

 

Be subjective

 

It’s may be a cliche but it’s true – if you try to please everyone, you risk pleasing no-one. Your readers, and search engines too, will prefer it if you present an honest, opinionated guide that highlights the good points about a destination but doesn’t shy away from mentioning the things that can drag it down.

 

When you refuse to paper over the cracks of a destination, you can give your guide a level of authenticity and personality that elevate it above more generic efforts.

 

Destination Guide Writer

Barcelona by night; image source

 

Make it useful

 

Too many destination guides, and I include some of those that I have been commissioned to write over the years, are light on detail, often limiting themselves to under a thousand words. Compare that with those created by Selective Asia or Responsible Travel for instance and you’ll know which are more likely to be trusted by readers and search engines.

 

Make your destination guides really useful to readers. Work with the idea in mind that you want them to bookmark the page and refer to it constantly when planning their trip and while they’re there. Here’s a list of sections you might write about:

 

  • Visa requirements
  • Seasonal weather
  • Local customs and useful common phrases (with correct pronunciations)
  • Transfer information
  • Packing checklists
  • Public transport details
  • Local specialities – is an area known for its beaches, a particular dish, or type of handicraft?
  • How visitors can make a positive impact and avoid making a negative one
  • Topical information on events such as festivals, updated regularly
  • Must-dos and avoids
  • Major attractions and little-known points of interest

 

Travel agencies in particular have a wealth of options here, and could also include lists of hotels, shops and restaurants.

 

Include itineraries

 

Detailed and inspirational itineraries are a great way to bring a destination to life, helping prospective clients to imagine themselves already there and convince them to book. Itineraries can be arranged by theme, duration or budget, and are another good technique to place keywords naturally.

 

Alongside itineraries you can suggest activities, excursions and points of interest to readers that can be ‘bolted-on’, increasing your upsell potential. When my family was planning our self-drive road-trip around the United States a few years ago, we loved getting ideas for routes and things to see and do from the itineraries on the American Road Trip Company website.

 

 

 

Itinerary Writer

The iconic Route 66; image source

 

Crowdsource your information

 

You need a writer, or several writers, to actually create your content, but you can help with the research by putting your network of contacts to good use. For instance, ideas for destination guide information can be found from:

 

  • Previous travellers leaving feedback and reviews on what they enjoyed or didn’t
  • Staff members who live in or have visited a destination
  • Local blogger or journalist contributions

 

Seek out information on things that are often known only to local insiders, but remember when writing that you’re addressing people who may never have visited before.

 

Many travellers crave an authentic experience on their holidays, so showing them where the locals go to eat, shop, socialise and have a good time is very appealing. This also has a direct positive effect on the local economy.

 

A final note here – geomapping these points of interest is another excellent way to serve your clients and boost your SEO performance.

 

I hope this guide to guides is useful for you – as a professional travel copywriter with years of experience in writing destination guides around the world, I’d be pleased to discuss any project you may have in mind.

 

 

 

It’s been predicted that by 2050 the amount of plastic in the oceans will outweigh the fish. Plastic pollution is without question one of the predominant environmental issues of our time, and we all have a role to play in combating it.

 

Plastic in the oceans and on beaches is a dangerous hazard for marine life such as fish, birds and turtles, but it also has an impact on humans (beyond ruining the scenery). Microscopic bits of plastic that have broken down over years are already finding their way into our food chain.

 

How hotels can reduce plastic waste

Plastic waste in Singapore; image source

 

Given that so many businesses in the travel industry rely on the selling of destinations as pristine and attractive, and how plastic waste can seriously affect that, it’s clear that these companies have an interest in dealing with the issue. In this article I’d like to look specifically at hotels as this is an obvious area where a substantial difference could be made with relatively few changes.

 

But first, a personal anecdote from my vast memory…

 

A few years ago my family and I were travelling through the USA, and we would regularly stay in budget chain hotels. We were shocked to find that at almost all of them, breakfast was served every morning with plastic plates, cups and cutlery, most of which was shovelled into the waste bin afterwards. There may be other reasons beyond ignorance of waste and recycling issues at play, such as cost and space limitations, but it was still shocking to encounter this kind of thing at big-name American hotels. It made me think of Don Draper’s family picnic in Mad Men, and what it will take to shift this mindset.

 

Beyond that experience, most hotels do seem to be pretty switched-on environmentally nowadays, or at least claim to be. Some will do the bare minimum, such as requesting guests reuse towels, while others have put sustainability right at the heart of their ethos.

 

If you’re operating a hotel and want to reduce your use of plastic, the following advice may be of help.

 

Leading from the top

 

For a sustainability initiative to succeed, it needs to be top-down. Management must be involved, and drive the process throughout by creating strategy, setting targets, evaluating results and rewarding success. If this is not the case, and that crucial support is not there, then hotel staff may not truly appreciate the need for their efforts.

 

Raising awareness with guests

 

Management and staff can only do so much. The other half of the equation in any hotel sustainability scheme is the guests. You can raise awareness among your clients at every stage of their stay, from time of booking throughout their holiday. A good approach is to have clear signage in communal areas and bedrooms about why you need to reduce disposable plastics and how they can contribute to your own efforts, such as by using any recycling points you have on your premises.

 

Identifying and reducing disposable plastic use

 

There are any number of ways in which hotels can use disposable plastics, often unnecessarily. In many cases, these can easily be substantially reduced. Just a few examples include:

 

  • Using multi-use plastic cups at poolside or beach bars instead of single-use
  • Instructing staff to provide straws for drinks only when requested
  • Placing milk on tables in jugs rather than disposable sachets
  • Only replacing plastic bin-liners in rooms when really necessary
  • Replacing single-use toiletries in rooms with refillable containers (Microbeads are a major cause for concern at the moment. You can identify which products containing them that your hotel uses, and replace them with others)
  • Using linen or canvas bags for dry-cleaning instead of plastic bags
  • Providing reusable containers for use in kitchens
  • Supplying guests with paper bags for lunches or picnics

 

A careful review of your operations, noting where and when plastics are used, is the best way to cut your usage effectively.

 

Community Involvement

 

It’s possible that you can either support a local initiative to improve the environment, or develop your own. Examples might include requesting volunteers from your staff to spend a day clearing plastic waste from nearby beaches, woods and other beauty spots, helping out at recycling centres, or raising awareness among visitors.

 

Sea Turtle

Plastic waste is a major hazard to wildlife; image source

 

Reducing bottled water

 

Bottled water is one of the main sources of plastic waste. In destinations where it is safe to drink water directly from the tap, you can offer your guests free refills to reduce bottle use. Of course in some parts of the world it is not yet safe to drink tapwater, in which case you might consider for a small deposit lending your guests reusable metallic bottles that can be filled from larger bottles.

 

In the UK, several regions and cities such as Cornwall, Bristol and Bath are working with the Refill scheme to help locals and visitors find places where they can refill their bottles on the move. UK hotels can advise their guests on how to use the app.

 

Working with suppliers

 

A busy hotel will have a wide supply chain, and there are going to be various companies that will also have scope to reduce their own plastic use. By communicating with your suppliers, perhaps alongside other hotels that they work with, you can try and influence their operations in line with your own.