How not to advertise luxury hotels: copywriting examples

writing, copywriting, freelance, just working, what is a copywriter, copywriting exampleIn an ongoing effort to learn from real world copy, here’s two new advertising copywriting examples. This time, both for the same luxury hotel, both flawed. When advertising luxury goods and services, there’s a tendency for copywriters to use long, fancy words in an attempt to make the product seem sophisticated. And worse, a tendency to use long rambling sentences packed full of unoriginal adjectives. In the previous article I had one example of this style of copy, which did a reasonable job (if vague), but included mistakes. The more common problem with grandiose luxury text, though, is that it comes across as convoluted and messy, and uses forgettable clichés  as you’ll see in these examples.

1. Innovative Pleasure

copywriting example, advertising, hotel in spain,

No doubt a gorgeous location in Spain, we can immediately see that from the pictures. But what’s with the heading? Innovative Pleasure. Innovative is an extravagant word – it makes you think they do things differently, think outside the box, all of that. What’s it got to do with a hotel, though? What do they do differently? Do you want them to experiment with how pleasure is done, or are you just looking for a reliable place to relax?

There’s a couple of problems with this tagline. One is that innovation is a questionable trait for a hotel to have. It carries connotations of risk, with the uncertainty of originality, which is not a desirable quality for a luxury getaway. But there’s a bigger problem: the tagline has nothing to do with the rest of the text. In what follows, nothing suggests that this hotel is in any way innovative.

To say the Gran Hotel was a feast for the senses would be an understatement. This magical place is a treasure trove of luxury where time stands still and the mind indulges. Set in the perfect location facing the turquoise sea and next to the spectacular sand dunes of Corralejo in Fuerteventura where the waves lap at its feet and the breeze twists through its damask drapes on balconies overlooking the ocean. No wonder it is its regulars’ best-kept secret.

In the first sentence the verb tenses don’t agree. To say the Gran Hotel is, or If you said the Gran Hotel was, not to say it was. But that’s forgiveable I suppose, not everyone is going to notice a scrappy conditional statement. It’s difficult to respect an advert for an innovative hotel that starts with a cliché like feast of the senses, though. Google’s got 535,000 search results for that expression, it’s hardly original. And its swiftly followed by a whole string of similar clichés in the second sentence, to cement just how innovative they are. This is a boring, lazy list of luxury descriptions that don’t really mean anything. It’s an example of copywriting that does nothing to define the product as unique or special, even though that’s what it’s desperately trying to do.

The one exception in their list of luxuries is the mind indulges, which is less clichéd because the usual expression would have the mind as the object of indulgence, not the subject (that is, to be pampered as opposed to doing the pampering). This suggests your mind is going to have to do some work whilst you stay at this hotel, as opposed to the mind being indulged. Exactly what your mind is going to indulge is left as a nice little mystery to ponder over.

The next sentence, aside from piling in another series of hotel clichés, is far too long. It’s a relentless list of ideas that might appeal on their own, but instead are laid on too thick and become difficult to follow. We can make the ideas much more digestible by splitting it into two sentences:

A perfect location facing the turquoise sea, flanked by to the spectacular sand dunes of Corralejo in Fuerteventura. The waves lap at its feet and the breeze twists through its damask drapes on balconies overlooking the ocean.

But at that, who cares if the hotel is licked by the sea and brushed by the breeze? The reader should be experiencing those things, not the hotel.

Then in the final sentence we’ve got a best-kept secret. There’s only 9,460,000 of them on Google, so that’s another nice example of how innovative this hotel is.

2. Participate and Luxuriate

It didn’t actually strike me until after I’d gathered these copywriting examples, but these two adverts are actually from the same hotel. That’s how much of an impression the brand made on me, clearly. So here is a second attempt to sell the same place, this time going for luxury instead of innovation.

copywriting example, hotel in spain, luxuriate

I don’t mind admitting that every now and again when I come across words that I don’t regularly use I might question: is that really a word? Luxuriate is, but it’s so infrequently used that you could be forgiven for thinking it’s not. And that’s a problem because when most readers see this headline they’re not going to think that sounds like a good idea. They’re going to think sorry what?

The Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahia Real 5*GL is situated in one of the most beautiful parts of the island of Fuerteventura, directly on the seafront near Corralejo Natural Dune Park, and with wonderful views of the islands of Lobos and Lanzarose.

There is too much information here. It messily splits one verb over four ideas by using prepositions. Taken individually, the hotel is situated in a beautiful part of the island, situated directly on the seafront, situated near the dune park and situated with nice views. It’s ugly.

Colonial influences inspired the styling of the Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahia Real, an oasis of warm tones and lush vegetation perfectly combining natural beauty with cutting edge-facilities. The Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahia Real awaits, ready to share a universe of sensations in an oasis of luxury, relaxation and wellbeing.

Normally you might have to look at one or two hotel adverts to spot a repeated phrase or expression and appreciate how clichéd it is. But this is a rare treat of a copywriting example that saves you the trouble. When you have two consecutive sentences referring to a luxury hotel as an oasis, the cliché is self-evident.

This is the number one destination for weddings, honeymoons, bespoke holidays and tailor-made luxury experiences.

There’s a fine line between a bespoke holiday and a tailor-made experience. It’s an example of a copywriter trying to use a list of grand suggestions but running out of ideas along the way.

At the end of the day the reader might not notice that the copy contains tired expressions and ugly overly long sentences. But that’s because the reader won’t register the detail at all. It’s a fatal type of copy, where the ideas are so unoriginal and unengaging that it’s just going to be forgotten.

The descriptions on their website aren’t a whole lot better. Being a Spanish hotel it is possible that this copy wasn’t written by a native English speaker. But when you’re advertising in English national papers, offering an expensive luxury product to an international clientèle, is any excuses for second-class copy acceptable?

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