With the vast majority of hotel bookings now taking place online, the words you use in your hotel content have never been more important. It’s your big chance to create a lasting impression (of the good kind). And while you may think that describing your hotel as a ‘hidden gem’ will ring all kinds of happy bells in the subconscious of your potential guests, you’re actually trotting out another tired old cliché that lacks punch.
Over the last year, I worked on a project that involved researching thousands of hotels, and I came across some amazing websites with original and sometimes fun content. However, more often than not, I found that hoteliers seem to pull their content from the ready to use aisle. It’s stale, boring, and the polar opposite of the memorable content they should be creating.
But it’s not their fault. The words and terms listed below are, in their own right, great words. But the fact is that the hospitality industry is guilty of overusing them and so tarnishing each word and phrase with a veneer of tackiness.
So what are the alternatives? Here are nine of the most common and cringeworthy travel writing clichés used in hotel content and some suggestions on how to avoid using them.
In the heart of
Where is the heart of a city? Is it the centre or is it the area that is most popular? Is it the neighbourhood that the locals spend their hard earned cash in or is it the tourist traps? This is one of the vaguest descriptions of a locale and really says nothing about the hotel other than it’s in a busy area with plenty of traffic and quite possibly no parking.
Name the area the hotel is in and give its location in relation to points of interest. For example; ‘Located on River Street, the hotel is a two-minute walk from the central train station’ gives your guests a much better idea of what to expect.
This is one of those adjectives that is incredibly overused on hotel about pages and in city tourist guides, but that we rarely use in everyday language. I’ve never heard a friend describe the pub or club he visited as vibrant or listened to a family member gush over the vibrant atmosphere they enjoyed on their holiday.
Try singling out actual reasons tourists would find the city/area appealing rather than making a sweeping generalization.
Both lively and bustling imply a lot of people going about their daily business and quite possibly hitting the local pubs that evening. And to many hotel guests, this means one thing only; noise. You might as well just admit that the neighbourhood is the busiest part of the city in terms of nightlife and that traffic is a nightmare (see ‘in the heart of’).
If it is an area with plenty of nightlife, then be honest and say as much. Some guests might be looking to stay where all the pubs and clubs are.
Full of character
Guests are now wise to this term that has described less than appealing hotels for decades, so don’t think that it adds a certain personality to your hotel. It implies that your housekeeping staff are less than thorough in their dusting duties and that the furniture, like the term itself, is almost certainly decades old.
If you have an old hotel, list the original features of the building. An open fireplace or a century-old staircase are interesting aspects that potential guests will find genuinely appealing.
Home from home
While it might sound welcoming to your ears, the fact is that guests don’t want to stay somewhere that reminds them of home. For the majority of your guests, a night in a hotel is a break from the norm and a chance to feel spoiled. Why pay for a room when you could stay at home?
Authenticate the comfort of a room by giving detailed descriptions of in-room amenities. This is a much clearer indicator of how much a guest will enjoy staying in your hotel.
The promise that the locals will welcome you with open arms is optimistic at best and completely false at worst. No hotelier can say with absolute certainty how the residents of the area will react to their guests.
People are more interested in how the staff will welcome them on arrival and how helpful they will be throughout their stay. So try highlighting how well trained in customer service your staff are.
In a class of its own
The truth is that no hotel is in a class of its own. No matter how amazing your property is, there are hundreds more like it around the world. Making this bold statement sets guests up for disappointment. They will expect 7-star treatment and anything less will result in one of those dreaded one-star reviews on Tripadvisor.
Every hotel has something that sets it apart from others in the area whether it’s a heated rooftop pool or a free shuttle service. Be specific about what makes your hotel the best place to stay even if it’s nothing more than a good old-fashioned cooked breakfast.
Honestly, nobody knows why so many hotel marketers and copywriters have jumped on this particular bandwagon, but jump they have. It’s another one of those words that we just don’t say in everyday conversation so why bother using it at all?
If you want to avoid overuse of the word restaurant, then be a little more specific. Pizzeria, café, and bistro are just some of the many options that sound far more enticing than eatery.
A B&B set in a centuries-old farmhouse is quaint, an old hotel with 70s décor is not. This is a great word but years of misuse means that guests now view a hotel described as quaint with suspicion. Does it have electricity? Is there an outhouse? Well, perhaps not quite that level of suspicion. Unfortunately, though, this quite lovely word often falls into step with ‘full of character’ as a term used to describe ramshackle establishments.
If you think your hotel is genuinely quaint, then describe the things that make it so. Its setting and the original features of the building are perfect examples.
You might not realize it, but the words you use to describe your hotel, no matter how positive you feel they are, could be losing you business. And seeing the same terms on endless hotel websites makes guests immune to the effects these once persuasive words held.
So do yourself a favour and eliminate these travel writing clichés from your hotel content. And that includes your emails and newsletters.
If you’re a busy hotelier or hotel marketer and you just don’t have the time to check or rewrite your copy, then drop us a line. We’ll carry out a free review of your site’s copy and offer you suggestions should you need them.