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How to write a great destination guide


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.

 

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