Travel content: Cliché or no cliché?
When it comes to travel content, many people believe that filling your page with endless clichés can really engage your reader.
However, we’re here to tell you that too many clichés can ruin a good travel piece. They’re just too vague and flimsy to have any real meaning. Your audience might even think you’re using them to overcompensate for a bad destination.
So, is there a balance between cliché and cheesy in travel content? We have a few ideas:
What is a cliché?
A cliché is an overused word or phrase that has lost its meaning.
A great example is: “my wedding was the happiest day of my life”. We’re sorry to break it to you; most people say that. It’s the overuse that makes it a meaningless and empty phrase (for everyone but you and your partner).
Cliché, as you may have guessed, has French origins. The word comes from the noise their printing presses used to make. While the rest of the world inserted letters into the iron cast individually, the French decided to have pre-formatted slugs containing the most commonly-used words and phrases.
These were known as clichés and saved a lot of time for the printers. It’s the same principle with writers too; they help you get your point across without much work. But, that isn’t always a good thing…
Are they good, bad or just plain ugly?
It’s fair to say that clichés have a bad reputation. As writers, editors and readers, we usually cringe when we see one on a page.
Where once they were just frequently-used phrases, they have evolved into common phrases that have no meaning or emotion. And that’s where the negative connotations come from.
However, when used intelligently and sparingly, clichés can have a profound effect on your reader.
There are three great uses for clichés:
- Explaining complex topics to a broad audience at the top of the sales funnel
- Expressing humour (you can even pun on clichés to present a less serious persona)
- Creating a conversational tone, but only if this reflects your brand voice
Whenever you use clichés in your content, make sure they’re valuable and help progress your argument. Otherwise, they’re just fluff – and your readers won’t like that. Cut down on clichés and you’ll reduce your word count, and help you get to the point faster.
If you do use clichés, try not to repeat them. It can be tough to keep track of this, but repetitive clichés can really grate on a reader and become even more meaningless!
Should you use clichés in travel content?
Travel content lends itself to cliché-filled copywriting due to its descriptive nature.
The entire sector is filled with vague, meaningless content that doesn’t help the reader. If it doesn’t do this, what’s the point in having it on your site?
To stand out from other brands, you should try to avoid travel content clichés as much as possible. A few here and there might be OK, but originality is the key to travel copywriting success.
We’ll admit it, writing travel content without clichés can be tough. How do you write something completely original and engaging for a location that has a hundred other write-ups?
Here are some great tips to get you started:
- Write as if you’ve been to the destination (even if you haven’t)
- Use a distinctive tone of voice to help your piece stand out
- Address the reader directly
- Use specific details to set you apart from more generic travel content
Be sure to read through your travel content before submitting it. Look out for clichés and, if you spot one, check to see if there’s a more concise way to word that statement.
8 travel clichés to avoid and why:
To help you out, here are a few of the most common travel content clichés you should try to avoid:
- Eatery – Do you ever say this in real life? No. You usually say restaurant, café or pub. Really it just makes you sound a little pretentious…
- Mecca – Mecca is a wonderful historic city that has been totally devalued by travel copywriters. All meaning is lost for people who see this word on a travel page, even for the destination itself, so stop using it!
- Je ne sais quoi – If you’re not French, you have no business including this phrase in your travel content. End of.
- Off the beaten track – Everyone uses this, but it’s getting tired and probably isn’t true.
- Melting pot – Unless you’re talking about fondue, don’t use this cliché. Most destinations are pretty multicultural, so how much value would you really be adding with this phrase?
- Must-see – This is simply lazy. Instead, offer an excellent description of the attraction and your reader will decide if it’s a ‘must-see’ for their holiday.
- Best-kept secret – It’s not a secret. You’re publishing it, so soon everyone will know about it. Instead, say what you mean, e.g. ‘it’s a quiet and secluded spot’.
- Step outside your comfort zone – No! You don’t know what your readers’ comfort zone is, so let them make their own minds up.
So, clichés in travel content aren’t all bad. You just have to think about when to use them and why. Take a look at your existing travel content to see where you can make some tweaks today.