Eight Secrets for Reaching Your Travel Prospect

While there are many potential audiences in the travel industry, there are two key categories that you should recognize: the actual traveler and the armchair traveler.

The actual traveler is someone who is planning to take a trip, because he or she wants to go somewhere and experience it firsthand. While the armchair traveler is someone who wants to be knowledgeable about the world—as knowledgeable as if they had traveled extensively—but isn’t actually planning to travel any time soon.

So in order to write a successful package for the travel industry, you must first determine if you are writing to an actual traveler or an armchair traveler. And then once you’ve determined that, you can use the following secrets to reach them.

Four Secrets for Reaching Actual Travelers:

  1. Determine the Niche Audience. Some folks love to travel on a budget, others demand luxury. Some want high adventure, others are looking for intense pampering. Some revel in roughing it, others want to be immersed in local culture. And still others are looking for business opportunities.

    There are many specialty niches when it comes to travel, and there are tours to meet every need imaginable. For one assignment, you may write to promote an all-inclusive trip that is built around experiencing local cuisine. Your next assignment may be for a college research trip where travelers can join a team and assist with a project – think digging up dinosaur bones in the Badlands or cruising the Antarctic to map icebergs.

    So, your first step when writing to actual travelers is to figure out who you are writing to.

  2. Make the Trip Tangible. Visual language is very important when writing to travelers. You must get them excited about the possibility of seeing, touching, tasting, and even smelling a new place. The “show, don’t tell” rule is never more applicable than when writing to these people.

  3. Choose Between Exclusivity and Accessibility. When you are writing to a traveler, you can create a sense of urgency and excitement by playing up the exclusivity of the deal you are offering. If you are writing for a health-related tour of Peru that happens once a year and only takes 20 people, then exclusivity is a must in your package.

    If, however, the offer you are making is not exclusive, then you want to emphasize accessibility. Making travel plans takes action – and you want to make that action as easy as possible for your reader.

  4. Get in Touch With the Core Desire. This follows from understanding who your target audience is. People travel for deeply emotional reasons. They travel to satisfy their wanderlust. They travel to build unforgettable memories. They travel to connect with people they never would have met otherwise. They travel to bring deeper meaning to their lives. When writing to an actual traveler, identify that deepest of motivators and find a way to connect with it.

Four Secrets for Reaching Armchair Travelers:

  1. Visuals Are Just as Important. When you are writing to an armchair traveler, you are writing to someone who wants to be seen as a traveler, but who still thinks “Maybe someday …” when it comes to actually planning a trip. Armchair travelers – even more so than actual travelers – need you to put them into a new world. You do this with visual language.

    Take a look at this long-running headline for International Living, a newsletter that reaches both actual and armchair travelers. Notice the images it evokes:

    You look out your window, past your gardener, who is busily pruning the lemon, cherry, and fig trees … amidst the splendor of gardenias, hibiscus, and hollyhocks. The sky is clear blue.

    The sea is a deeper blue, sparkling with sunlight.

    A gentle breeze comes drifting in from the ocean, clean and refreshing, as your maid brings you breakfast in bed.

    For a moment, you think you have died and gone to heaven.

    But this paradise is real. And affordable. In fact, it costs only half as much to live this dream lifestyle … as it would to stay in your own home!

  2. You’re Probably Working With an Information Product. Usually, the kind of product that appeals to an armchair traveler is an information product. That means its worth comes from a Big Idea … not from its features. Who cares if it’s a magazine that delivers 32 pages of once-in-a-lifetime travel deals each month? The Big Idea is that the travel magazine will give you knowledge that not everyone has … that you’ll be the one your friends turn to when the subject of traveling the world – and getting great deals – comes up. When writing for an information product, don’t stop until you’ve uncovered the Big Idea.

  3. Opportunity Knocks. Even though armchair travelers may never actually plan a trip, they are tickled by the notion of having the possibilities and opportunities near at hand. This is what travel information products deliver in spades. So make sure you describe the opportunities they’ll gain from your product.

  4. Look for the Crossovers. In the end, most armchair travelers think of themselves as actual travelers, so take every opportunity to write to them as such. Never, Never, NEVER condescend to your reader … but always include that one little magical line: “You can enjoy the wonders of the world from your own home …” or something like it.

[Editorial Note: Heather has recently taken on the role of Editor-in-Chief for Copywriting Insider. She is a talented copywriter who occasionally also writes for The Golden Thread. If you missed her article last week on the power of a good story, you can check it out here.]

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Published: August 23, 2007

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