7 Secrets from Screenwriting for Creating Great Travel Content

Published 1/12/17
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Our culture has an insatiable appetite for storytelling. With more streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and Seeso emerging with original programming, hundreds of channels featured on cable TV, and serials now offered via podcast, people are more plugged into storytelling than ever before. 

If you want users to take a break from binge watching and engage with your content, you need to feed their hunger for narratives. Here are seven tips from screenwriting to help better tell a story with your destination marketing:

#1: You Have Less Than 8 Seconds to Grab Your Audience’s Attention

In movies, the opening image sets the mood and lets the audience know they’re entering an exciting new world. Similarly, a carefully chosen banner image, a cleverly crafted headline or personalized content can make or break a user’s experience. Grab your audience on the home page and set up the story of your destination quickly to entice your user. You don’t want to lose anyone to one of the other dozens of options listed in the search results.

#2: The Power of Dialogue

If there is one earmark of all good dialogue, it’s that it’s never flowery. The more natural the speech, the more authentic and accessible the characters will feel. Likewise, all good content writing is conversational in tone. It speaks to the user in a warm, friendly and knowledgeable manner. Throughout your landing pages, you’re creating a persona and that brand voice works best when it’s consistent and clear. Clarity helps to express value and is more persuasive than language full of adjectives or a cheap sales pitch. 

#3: Show, Don’t Tell

There’s a reason screenwriters often tape this old adage to their computer. It’s easy to fall into the trap of telling your audience what is happening rather than showing them through action. Similarly, users don’t want to be told a destination is great. They want to come to that conclusion on their own through inspiring copy and images. In content audits, this is one of the most common notes. If you find yourself slipping into this pitfall, try mixing in some sensory details to inspire your readers.

#4: Avoid Clichés

In the popular guide to screenwriting Story, author Robert McKee observes, “All clichés can be traced to one thing—the writer does not know the world of his story.” Get to fully know your destination and how it stands out from the crowd. Just as film genres can fall victim to clichés, destinations have clichés of their own. With so many cities and counties now boasting attractions like fine dining, wineries and shopping as part of their visitor experience, it’s important to mention what specifically is offered in those categories that makes your destination unique.

#5: Structure is Everything

In marketing, we’re often trying to push users through a funnel as though they’re less like people and more like liquids. Instead, try thinking of the user as the hero you want to take on a journey. Through a carefully planned arc, a movie tells the most important story in a character’s life. Similarly, vacations are often some of the biggest highlights in people’s lives. So it’s important to help build their story. 

#6: Don’t Forget B and C Stories

It’s never all about the main character. The destination is your sexy lead but don’t forget their quirky best friend. While it’s fundamental to feature popular attractions and activities, every destination has softer stories to tell, too. Don’t forget to include content about your destination’s history, nature, local celebrities or off-the-beaten-path locations.

#7: Leave Them Hanging

In order to get your audience invested, it’s important to hook them from the beginning. Never present the pay-off without first increasing their curiosity. You want users to click through your headlines, watch your videos and visit itineraries—the more actions they take, the more their interest escalates. Even if they click away from website within a few minutes, if you’ve set yourself up as a resourceful and interactive site, they’ll be back. Their journey isn’t over. If you’ve properly built the story, it can only end one way—when the user arrives at your destination. And that’s when the next story begins.