Travel firms must avoid jargon to succeed in the new world of search, says Steve Dunne, chief executive of Digital Drums

I had a rather puzzling press release land in my inbox the other day from one of the major travel technology companies.

The release led with a quote from the chief executive, who hailed the fact that the company is “onboarding” new clients at a record pace.

Onboarding? I wasn’t entirely sure what onboarding meant. It sounded a bit like waterboarding to me, but surely that is no way to treat a new client.

A quick search on Google revealed that onboarding is “the action or process of integrating a new client with one’s products or services”.

I started to look through my inbox with a fresh eye and was staggered by the number of travel brands “reaching out” to me, inviting me to do a “deep dive” into a particular subject or simply asking for “face time” with me.

What is going on? Why are these travel brands speaking management speak to me? Why am I left, as a reader, increasingly wondering what on earth they mean when they use these terms?

Marketing language

As a marketing apprentice, many years ago, I had it drummed into me that there were two types of writing: inside out and outside in.

Inside-out writing, went the theory, said that when a brand grew to more than 30 employees it started to develop a language of its own.

Now, if everybody in a meeting or within your company speaks the same jargon, that can be a good thing. It can serve as a sort of shorthand that cuts out wasted time. But, inevitably, that language starts to creep on to your website and into your press releases and brochures – the problem being that the outside world doesn’t speak your language so your communication doesn’t resonate with it.

PR professionals are trained to write outside in. This says you should always regard yourself as someone who has been parachuted into an organisation but you never ‘go native’ – you always write for the outside world.

Voice search

Now, before you think I’m making a big deal out of nothing, think about this. A recent report by analytics company ComScore claimed that 50% of all internet searches by 2020 will be by voice, thanks to the emergence of voice assistants such as Siri, Alexa and Google Home.

According to Mindshare, one of the world’s largest media agencies, 600 million people use voice-activated search devices at least once a week on their smartphones.

Some brands are already starting to restructure their content and website architecture to recognise that voice search is increasing – and doing so in quantum leaps – and that using these management clichés, which nobody in normal life uses, will spell disaster if you want to be found on Google or any other search engine.

So, before you write to me saying you want to reach out for some face time so we can deep dive into a topic that will help me onboard your services neatly, just remember this: I don’t talk like that – nobody does – and if you do you will lose out dramatically as a business when voice becomes the principal method for search.