On the TourismTiger blog, we have written several articles about how to write compelling content for your website. We’ve touched on the importance of storytelling in marketing campaigns and on your site, features vs. benefits, and even how to write an awesome “About Us” page. An important topic missing from this list is the one we’re covering today: tone!
What is tone?
In written composition, tone can be defined as “an attitude of a writer toward a subject or an audience.” Tone is developed primarily through word choice, and it’s important that you define what tone you want to portray before jumping into writing. Do you want to come across as casual and friendly or formal and professional? Do you want to be funny or serious? These are fundamental questions when it comes to writing content for your website.
Why is tone important?
In literary works, tone can serve a number of purposes. When it comes to writing for a tourism website, our main goal is to target a specific audience and encourage them to book. If one client wants to appeal to an older audience looking at relaxing coastal trips like those offered by Coast & Co., it simply doesn’t make sense to write with the same tone as Sundance Watersports, who targets families looking for fun part-day activities to entertain their kids. As writers, it’s essential that we put ourselves in the same frame of mind as the target audience so as to set an appropriate tone that speaks directly to members of that audience.
To illustrate, here is a blurb from Coast & Co.:
“We’ll dive right into the glorious nature of this region with a leisurely morning walk to view spectacular Onkaparinga Gorge. This gorge boasts seemingly endless wilderness and a fantastic opportunity to witness the ancient geology of McLaren Vale. With our lungs full of fresh country air, we’ll head off on our Electric Bike Winery Tour, visiting 4 amazing Cellar Doors and an iconic lunch venue.”
Now, compare that to a blurb from Sundance Watersports:
“When it comes to parasailing, we like to get right to the fun part! We’ll head out of Robbie’s marina and right to the open sea. Once up in the air, you’ll get the ideal view of the Indian Key, swimming tarpon, sea turtles, and so much more. Our personal favorite part of parasailing is the expansive views stretching from the Everglades National Park to the Alligator Lighthouse. If you decide you’d rather ride along, you’ll have a blast too — our hilarious and personable crew make it an experience that you won’t soon forget. We may even be able to convince you to come back for more!”
When reading Coast & Co.’s content, it’s easy to feel the poetic and peaceful experience that the Fleurieu Peninsula of Australia has to offer. The contrast of Sundance Watersports’ upbeat and energetic content clearly demonstrates the difference in the two websites’ target audiences.
What if your target audience is well-mixed?
That may be a bit more tricky, but it can be done! Our professional recommendation is that you think about the different personalities that are looking at your tours and what they need to hear. Write to excite them, but remind them that they will be safe. Give them definitive information about the itinerary, but assure them that there is something for everyone in their group.
For example, on Guideline Tours’ website, we chose to highlight the stops in their Grand City Tour and keep the other content fairly neutral so as to avoid alienating any specific audience members. Take a look:
“Our tour begins in Downtown Los Angeles, where you can see the towering skyscrapers, the famous Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and the modern architecture of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. We will stop for a few photos at the Concert Hall then continue onto the Griffith Park Observatory. Here you will get a stunning panoramic view of the ‘City of the Angels’ as well as the iconic Hollywood Sign.”
Simple, straightforward content can take you on a journey, too! When you have a mixed audience, try to stick with vocabulary and phraseology that meets somewhere in the middle between exciting and safe, friendly and formal, fun and serious. With a mixed audience, it’s all about balance!
What are the take-aways?
- Define precisely who your target audience is before you start. Once you’ve figured that out, think of what style of writing would speak to them most. If it helps, come up with three adjectives that help define your brand, and use those as your guidelines. (For example, Sundance Watersports could be “family-friendly”, “fun”, and “cost-effective”.)
- Stick to the same tone throughout the site. Once you start writing your content with one tone, keep it consistent so as to not confuse your reader at any point while they’re browsing.
- Stay authentic. Be who you are and speak honestly about your company’s offerings! Write your content almost as you would talk to your customer face-to-face; that being said, keep in mind that they haven’t met you yet, so aim for a bit more professional or neutral. Chances are that is the tone you want to portray. Just make sure to use spell check and have someone else read it for grammar!
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