Writing About a Place

Published 2/4/14
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Some days I have to resist the urge to just pack my bags and go to some of the destinations described in the visitor guides I edit. Some places sound so cool – it could be the picturesque landscape, the attractions, or anything else that appeals to me. That’s how I know when a travel writer has been effective.

Working at Miles has really taught me a lot about the importance of good writing when it comes to marketing a destination. It’s a challenge to write about travel. You’re selling more than just the place itself – you are promoting the experience of a visit. You have to do more than put the idea of visiting a particular place in mind – you have to compel a person to take action. The content must sound authentic, reflect familiarity with a destination and target diverse audiences.

Take, for example, where I live – Tampa, Florida, part of the Tampa Bay area. If I were promoting the area to sports fans, I’d talk about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers games at the stadium (including the pirate ship cannon that goes off during a touchdown), the excitement of watching the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team score a goal (yes, we have hockey) or the sight of the roof of Tropicana Field lit up in orange after the Tampa Bay Rays beat one of their Major League Baseball rivals.

A person interested in history would be interested in Ybor City’s cigar heritage (many of the original cigar factories still exist), or may want to smoke a cigar hand-rolled in front of them. They may want to check out the Tampa Bay History Center or see the minarets at Plant Hall at the University of Tampa, originally the Tampa Bay Hotel on the Hillsborough River, and learn about Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders stop in Tampa before heading to Cuba during the Spanish-American War.

I’d also recommend tasting a Cuban sandwich (a Tampa specialty) and washing it down with “café con leche” (it’s the nectar of the gods) or one of several craft beers brewed in Tampa (try the tasting room at Cigar City Brewing Co.).

If you were interested in shopping, I’d tell you about International Plaza. If you wanted to have fun with your family, I’d tell you about the thrills to be had at Busch Gardens (animals and roller coasters) or the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) and its high ropes course.

How great is it to have a friend or relative who happens to live in the area you’ve never visited show you around? Or to get a recommendation from a local about where to go, eat, shop, etc.? That’s why we hire local writers to develop content for our destinations. Local writers can talk about different facets of a destination and they’re the best ambassadors of a place. I’ve made some great discoveries thanks to things I’ve read in visitor guides or from people who either live in the place I plan to visit or have visited themselves.