Most elementary and high school students across America receive essentially the same education in the English language. I don't think it has changed much in decades either. They learn about the parts of speech, sentence structure, grammar and punctuation. English teachers would have you believe that it's all equally important. You need nouns and verbs to make sentences and occasionally some adjectives, adverbs, pronouns and prepositional phrases to make things interesting. I work in advertising — tourism advertising to be more precise — and I'm here to tell you some kinds of words are more important than others.

Today, I speak out in praise of the misunderstood and often neglected verb. One look through your favorite travel magazine will uncover advertisements that do not contain a single verb. Did I mention that they are ads for travel? You've seen the ads so you know what I'm talking about.

"Art, antiques and more."

"Beautiful views and friendly people."

That's it. Seriously. The entire ad consists of an utterly banal line like the examples above followed by a website address. Effective tourism advertising needs to tell potential visitors what they can do and experience at a destination. It’s the activity (ie: verb) that stirs emotions and makes memories.

It’s definitely easier for some destinations whose brand is built upon signature activities like soaring on a zipline, paddling through rapids, carving turns in freshly fallen snow. But selling the experience is important for all destinations. Remember, relax, browse and stroll are all verbs, and all things that tourists like to do. Sticking with one of the examples above, art and antiques by themselves rarely create lifelong memories. They are inanimate objects that may serve as reminders of meeting the artists, discovering a treasure in the most unlikely place, sharing the experiences with family and friends. Those are the memories that linger. And the experiences that need to be touted to potential visitors.


6 Walnut Avenue • Vinton, Virginia 24179

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