Travel expert Rick Steves shares insider tips on cutting through the clutter of travel brochures.
Be skeptical when reading travel brochures, because they are designed to help you spend money. They're propaganda—paid advertising—for a business.
Look for a straightforward, up-front price. (It's better than having the tour company trying to pry money out of you over the course of your vacation through various sales gimmicks.)
Keep in mind that a brochure is designed to make the place look really good. If it's not showing me a wide shot of a hotel, I assume that the wide shot is ugly. If it's just showing me the garden in the back, that means the front is ugly.
With hotels, words like "deluxe," "luxury," and "Superior" (along with a checklist of facilities, like a shoe-shine machine in your hallway) do nothing to quantify the character, ambiance, friendliness, and convenience of the place.
The word "area" should send a red flag: If the brochure says your hotel is in the "Florence area," right away you know it's halfway to Bologna in the middle of nowhere.
If you're taking a tour of some kind, keep in mind that the more sights that are packed into a short tour, the more time you're spending on a bus and the less time you're spending seeing them.
Bragging that a place is a member of the local tourist board may mean only that it paid to be included. Similarly, if a place points out that it is on UNESCO's World Heritage List, they have nothing else to talk about