On this blog, I often talk about my experiences as a copyeditor. But I rarely discuss my work as a copywriter. I create written content for business Web sites, mostly in the hospitality arena. I also help with the naming of entities such as hotels and restaurants. These projects have taken me to Atlantic City; Manhattan; Miami; Dublin; Washington, DC; La Crosse, Wisconsin; and down the hill from my house in Santa Barbara. Most recently, I traveled to the Central American country of Belize, to be a guest at a client’s two resorts there.
On the trip, my husband and I visited several sites of Maya ruins. To traverse one of them, we had to hike through the Guatemalan jungle, where we saw some exotic animals and insects. These included the fearless coatimundi, ratlike gibnut (which supposedly tastes like ham when smoked), and magnificent Morpho butterfly. We didn’t run into any jaguars, although the roads are dotted with signs warning of their crossing. My hubby did encounter a harmless green-headed tree snake at the coast; we don’t speak of it.
The copy for a hotel or resort Web site has to be factual, providing information about the rooms, amenities, dining venues, spa, event facilities, and neighborhood. In equal measure, it must evoke what it feels like to be there. Sipping a watermelon mojito at the bar, devouring chaya tamales in the restaurant, sleeping in the comfy king-sized bed, ordering room service for breakfast, rinsing off in the outdoor shower, lounging by the pool, touring the on-site organic garden, going on local excursions, taking a Maya cooking class, and enjoying the tiny pastries left during turndown service prepare one to convey the guest experience. (Sometimes, research doesn’t suck.)
But I don’t always have the opportunity to visit a property I am writing about. In such cases, I have to educate myself by doing some or all of the following:
- Talking to people who have been there
- Examining photographs of the property
- Reviewing press releases and marketing materials from the client
- Reading news and feature articles about the property
- Studying guest reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Expedia, and similar sites
The final step: using my imagination! Then it’s up to the client to decide whether I have captured the essence of the place.