How to establish a 'tone of voice' with Emma Heath

At Words By Nuance, they believe in writing stuff that’s worth reading. They believe the power of a story is in the telling. And believe that every word should earn its way onto the page. For this reason, their philosophy is simple: NO EMPTY WORDS.

Words By Nuance was established in 2012 by Sydney-based writer Emma Heath. After spending over a decade in advertising and branding agencies, Emma saw the potential to specialise in written communications that are effective and beautiful – so she set up a business to do just that.


We met up with Emma in Sydney to ask her advice on setting a 'tone of voice' for a accommodation business regardless of it's size of location.

What does a 'tone of voice' even mean for a hotel brand and how important is it to establish one??

'Tone of voice' really just means the way you get a written message across. Writing is just like talking to someone - you'll moderate the tone (and change the words you use) depending on who that person is. Striking the right tone helps you create a better connection, and it also reflects the personality of your brand or business.

For hotels, it's worth thinking about who your audience is, and how you want them to perceive you. As yourself, what matters to these people? What makes them feel comfortable? How would you talk to them in real life?

If you're an upmarket hotel, you'll no doubt want to attract people with taste and sophistication - so it's important to choose a tone that's suitable for those people. Similarly, if you're all about being relaxed and welcoming, make sure your tone isn't too stiff or formal.

Establishing a tone of voice is especially important for your online communications - because it helps people 'get to know you' and feel a connection to your brand long before they set foot inside your establishment.


You’ve made many successful clients big and small successful with clever insight led ideas and creative writing. Do you find that the basic principles of strong authentic storytelling are just as important for the low budget independent businesses as big global brands?

Absolutely! Perhaps even more so! When you're a small business, one of the advantages is that you can come across more 'real' than big corporates and chains. By being authentic and telling your story, you can create a more personal connection with your audience. It's so important to be truthful; people these days can smell a fake or wannabe a mile off.

What advice would you give a small/ medium accommodation business on how to find and execute an authentic story that’s unique to their brand across all channels? How will this help attain new guests and keep a conversation going into the future?

In the hospitality space I think the stories that work well and the ones that explain how/why your business began - the 'back story', so to speak. Also, stories that convey a sense of what it's like to BE there. Think back to the people who started your business - what are their stories? Think about the people who visit you - what are their experiences? You want potential guests to feel like they know what to expect when they actually visit - the sounds, sights, smells. By bringing this to life, you can gain new customers and create a living experience that keeps people coming back.


It's as much about the people behind your brand as the property.

With your combined creative experience and business and leisure travel is there anything that stands out that accommodation business should be doing and / or stop doing to stand out and improve their reputation?

Nothing trumps words of mouth. Giving your guests an easy way (or even an incentive) to recommend your establishment to their friends is a great idea. Similarly, 'frequent flyer' style programs that reward guests for returning.

Of course, online communications are very important too - so optimising your website for  search, and investing in adwords can be a good idea. Having presence on sites like Tripadvisor is also a great advantage, as it gives you the chance to showcase 'real life' and up to date testimonials from guests (which you can also respond to).


Any practical secrets you’re willing to giveaway to help a small accomodation business attract more bookings?

If you're not sure what guests want (or what they think) ask them! Genuine feedback is worth its weight in gold. Ask guests to complete a feedback form (and give them something in return, whether it's a coffee or complimentary wifi). This will give you great insights from which to improve your offering and craft your brand.

Like to have a chat and see how they could help you? They’d love to hear from you. Simply email emmaH@wordsbynuance.com.au