It’s Not Just What You Say, But How You Say It

Account Director/Senior Content Director
Published 8/6/13
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In the world of travel content, why does voice matter? Because consumers are bombarded with marketing messages these days, making it harder than ever for destinations to stand out. But stand out you must, so the content you’re offering should be oozing with personality. As you speak to potential visitors, you’re inviting them to come experience a unique vibe, attitude and character that only you offer – or at least that they can’t find most other places. The words, phrases and tone you use are the “first impression” many consumers have of you. So it’s crucial that it be a memorable one – one that establishes your identity and positively reflects the people, places and experiences visitors will encounter.

Juneau, Alaska (full disclosure: client) gets that, and here’s a great example of voice in action. Which of these destinations would you rather visit?

NAH!Come visit Juneau, an exciting destination offering a variety of outdoor recreation, small-town charm and friendly people. Our diverse restaurants serve up something for everyone and plenty of hotel options ensure you’ll have a great place to stay on any budget.”

AHH!If Juneau were a type of music, we'd say it's part funk, part soul, part bluegrass, and a whole lot of classic rock. Here, you'll find an unexpected mix of fishermen and teachers, legislators and artists, lawyers and homemakers, dock workers and frontier entrepreneurs, students and Native elders. Somehow we make it all work. Spend a few days with us and you'll see why so many folks choose to visit and live here. In Juneau, you can watch humpbacks in the morning, take in a performing arts performance in the evening, and toss back a few locally brewed beers at night. We're eclectic that way. And we've got all the activities and attractions you'd expect in a state capital. We just share them without all the pretention. Not least of all, Juneau locals are a friendly bunch, if we do say so ourselves. We're a fiercely loyal type, and we love this city enough to want to share it with anyone who visits.”

The first example spells out a few things to see and do, but it’s a real yawner. (And we can say that, because we totally made it up.) Cross out the destination’s name and you could plug nearly any city or state in its place. We’ve read copy like this a million times before. But the second example paints a more vivid (and unique) picture of the place. It evokes a mood, has a defined tone, conveys a personality. In short, this brief description gives off the same “vibe” you’d feel as you walk the streets of Juneau. That’s good content. In fact, www.TravelJuneau.com does such a nice job conveying a consistent voice that you’re hearing this same voice come through on pages throughout the site – even in the “Local Lingo” and “FAQ” sections. And as you read through the examples below, keep in mind this content is serving a far greater purpose than just prompting a few laughs. It’s conveying an attitude … a personality … a brand(!) that makes this destination stand out from so many others trying to sing the same song.

LOCAL LINGO

  • Alaskan: Simultaneously a person, place and thing, depending on context. This is a bar and hotel in downtown Juneau, a malt beverage brewed here by the Alaskan Brewing Company and a state resident. You could have an Alaskan with an Alaskan at the Alaskan. (And you should.)
  • Douglas: A place, not a person. Refers to both the town and the island across the channel from downtown. When people say North Douglas, they mean West Douglas, where the North Douglas Highway goes. Makes perfect sense, right?
  • The SOB: This is what the locals affectionately (wink-wink) call the State Office Building, where many of them work. It’s sandwiched between Willoughby Avenue and Calhoun Street downtown.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • Q: Does it always rain here? A: No. Sometimes it snows. Juneau gets about 150 inches of precipitation a year; we call it "liquid sunshine." Around these parts, any day without rain is considered a beautiful day.
  • Q: Why don't locals use umbrellas? A: Call it stubbornness or being in denial, but somehow the umbrella just never caught on here. People are drip-dry, and umbrellas just can't take the wind that so often accompanies the rain. Besides, umbrellas are for wimps.
  • Q: How many hours of daylight do you have? A: How many do you need? On Juneau's longest day, June 21, we have 18 hours and 18 minutes of the good stuff. On the shortest day in December, we have 6 hours and 21 minutes of daylight.
  • Q: How can you spot an Alaskan? A: Southeast Alaskans are often decked out in rubber boots, well-worn Levis or Carhartts, and tattered, hooded sweatshirts. Their complexions are dewy, and they squint when the sun comes out, followed by comments about that strange yellow ball in the sky.
  • Q: Do you take American money? A: You betcha. We'll take all the money you want to give us. However, due to our proximity to Canada, don't be surprised if a cashier gives you Canadian coins for change. The two coinage types mingle freely here.
  • Q: What time is it here? A: Alaska time. Things will get done, unless the sun is out or the fishing is exceptionally good. Most of Alaska is on Alaska time, an hour earlier than Pacific time.

Well said!