Halcyon Bespoke Travel
Run by travel and hospitality experts David Eck and Saif ul Haque, Halcyon creates bespoke travel itineraries for those who want to enjoy the most extraordinary holiday experiences imaginable.
The service is very personal, with David and Saif (better known as Ali) using their huge experience and wealth of contacts to put together amazing itineraries that are totally tailored to their clients unique tastes, interests and preferences.
In addition to their website they also produce, every eighteen months or so, the Halcyon Passport. This is a booklet that gives potential clients a little taste of the hotels and destinations they work with, as well as some example itineraries. See the entire publication online by clicking here.
That first class feeling
The look of this publication is utterly crucial – it has to convey a feeling of understated luxury and personal service that harks back to the golden age of travel. I introduced David and Ali to Bev and Dave of DB Communication by design, who are very talented in this kind of project. They came up with the idea of the leather binding and embossed logo, then designed all the inside pages. They also handled the print production – this had to be of the highest quality, with fabulous reproduction and a lovely silky feel as you turn the pages.
A real tough writing challenge
A picture is worth a thousand words and David, Ali, Bev and Dave did a fantastic job of sourcing and collating fabulous imagery from the featured hotels and resorts. However, in many ways the most vivid pictures of all are those in the mind – and you paint those with words.
Each of the 200 featured hotels sent very different content, ranging from just a few words that said very little, up to 1,000 word essays. David Eck and I had to turn each of these into pages of about 120 words – a degree of brevity that’s very difficult to attain.
This generally involved a complete re-write, using their website as the source (because the text we received was often supplied by those for whom English was a second language). The style and tone had to be consistent from one page to the next. However, we also had to capture the unique spirit of each particular property and evoke a guest experience that readers would find irresistibly inviting – whilst getting in specific information about the location, accommodation, facilities, activities, wining and dining.
The language had to be evocative and fresh, without lapsing into clichés or painting the prose too purple. Achieving all this, and making it appear effortless, was anything but!
I can resist anything except temptation
Then there were the introductory pages at the start of the Passport. These were tricky in that the product would be different for everyone – each itinerary is individually designed, and much of the value is in the personal service. The challenge was to draw the reader in and appeal directly to their emotions. I had to pull hard on the heart strings, but without being clumsy. The touch had to be light, but actually quite forceful – otherwise people would just get a nice warm feeling but not actually do anything!
Smoothly does it
Then I had to move on and start talking about the specific features of the service. This required a gear change in the writing, but without there being an awkward transition. If you are promising elegance, comfort and sophistication then the writing must proceed gracefully and flow effortlessly.
I also had to paint mini-portraits of Ali and David. The challenge was to quickly give their background in such a way that their unique personalities came across in a winning way – personal service is not very appealing unless you get a great feeling about the person who will be offering it!
Continental drift – in 160 words
Then there were the pages which introduced each continent. You try summing up the unique appeal of India, the cultures, heritage, religions, peoples, landscapes, festivals, architecture, tastes and colours in just 160 words. And making it vivid, inviting and compelling, without appearing to try too hard. Oh, and don’t forget Sri Lanka and all those islands across the Indian Ocean!
You’ve done India then? Now we want the same for the Americas, both north and south, in another 160 words, lightly skipping from the Canadian Rockies to the Amazon Rainforest and the islands of the Caribbean to the ancient ruins of the Aztecs.
Next, the Far East.
And then Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the pacific islands like Fiji.
Next stop Europe and the UK – an area with more than its fair share of variety and history. Finally, can you wrap up Africa, from cosmopolitan Cape Town to the archaeological sites of the Sudan and the remoteness of the Okavango to the teeming bazaars of Morocco?
Days of wonder, conjured up in words
Finally there were the itineraries. These were tough, because I had to cram in the maximum detail in the fewest number of words. A price was quoted on the page so I had to get in as much as I could to show what great value is on offer, without it just becoming a boring list.
When it comes to evoking travel experiences you have to stir the senses, touch the emotions and speak to the spirit. The touch has to be light, and sure, otherwise people will feel pushed rather than moved.
To see the whole brochure in flipbook form just click here. If you want to read the text on any of the spreads above just click on the images.
I also write posts for the Halcyon blog. If you’d like to see examples of this work click here.