Editor's Letter: Cut the Fluff; You Had Me at Plunge Pool

I had a moment the other day. I was reading a press release from a luxury hotel company that was so filled with superlatives and self-praising phrases, I could not get to the point as to what the news was about, why they were issuing the press release to begin with. After several minutes of reading it again and again, I deleted it; it simply wasn’t worth the time.

A bit later on I was chatting with several luxury travel industry colleagues and I brought up my frustration, that press releases these days are often filled with luxury adjectives, so lavished on that the words have no meaning. At times the writing is so poorly done I’ve had to absolutely turn away and hit the “delete” button in agony.

Ruthanne Terrero
Ruthanne Terrero, VP, Questex Travel and Meetings Group

“Press releases should be written in AP style, just the facts, with good background provided on what’s being discussed and should include a good photo of what’s being presented,” I argued (I’ve made myself sound much more eloquent as I write this now).

To my surprise, several public relations professionals jumped right in. It turns out they are receiving pre-written press releases from luxury hospitality clients who believe the more you layer on, the more over-the-top adjectives and ornate phrases, the better. Some have told their clients, “no, we cannot send this press release out,” which is awkward as hell, but I wish these clients would listen to their public relations advisors and leave the writing to the experts.

I was even more surprised when travel advisors joined the conversation. They are equally annoyed by "luxury" being described with over-done copy; they get this over and over in marketing materials and in many similar “releases” that the media receives. This purple prose is equally ignored, and annoying to advisors. They want information they can relay to their clients. When the message is buried by someone who should never be allowed near a keyboard, the message is lost. And in an attempt to stand out, the product is lost in a sea of sameness.

Suppliers, consider this. Do you think a luxury travel advisor is going to get very far with a client when he/she describes your hotel as sublime, reimagined or that its features unprecedented? Let the facts speak for themselves. If you’re marketing a villa with a plunge pool, you’ve got me at plunge pool. You’re not going to stand out by saying more, or too much. Do include the unique aspects but write them clearly and factually, don’t try to mesmerize us; your words are not going to make us melt in sheer delight but some hard, cold facts about something truly awesome might.

Keep it simple, my friends. Let each sentence be a gem, filled with a key fact about your product. Don’t aggrandize your own hotel, that’s not chic. If in doubt, refer your marketers to “The Elements of Style.”

We do want to hear from you; we just want to understand what you’re saying.

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