March 28, 2016

Translation & Localisation - Travel Providers Must Adapt to Global Marketplace

by Malek Murison

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translation and localisation websites

Last week we touched upon the increasing buying power of travellers from emerging markets. More importantly, we took a closer look at exactly why emerging markets present a huge opportunity for travel brands. The global tourism community is on the up, as more people from every country you can think of gain both the resources and the ambitions to travel more. One of the best ways to engage these travellers and create a loyal following is to speak their language. It’s pretty simple really; poor or non-existent content translation leads to alienation. Alienation leads to that potential customer clicking the big X in the top corner of the screen…

Translation is king

In a travel market where loyalty is nearly non-existent and the big players dominate bookings and search enquiries, it’s more important than ever for startups to harness every possible opportunity to grow. One guaranteed way to do this is to ensure that all content and booking processes are effectively and accurately translated into the mother tongue of the customer. This is a relatively simple way of spreading the reach of your products and services, increasing your authenticity and trustworthiness at the same time.

Speaking to Skift, Kevin Cohn, SVP of Operations for translation software company Smartling, highlighted a need across the travel industry to get things right. He said, “the need for travel brands to publish content in multiple languages has never been greater. As more investment is made in content and technology, it becomes increasingly important for global enterprises to view translation through a technology lens, and to invest in a system of record for managing translation, a process which ultimately touches nearly every department and team.”

Here are 6 reasons that you need to seriously think about translating all of your content into as many languages as possible…

Harness the potential of emerging market travellers

As we saw last week, emerging market travellers represent a major opportunity for independent travel service providers. Not only are many travellers from emerging markets untouched by the industry’s big players, there is also an appetite for authentic experiences and an openness to the sharing economy. These are two things that independent operators can make the most of. Strong translation can quickly make your business a go-to for customers from places you might not expect.

Increase global reach

Creating content in multiple languages is a sure way to increase your global reach. If the booking process is also effectively translated, you are also far more likely to make sales from international customers. From social media to strong SEO and reduced basket abandonment, harnessing multiple languages for your travel services platform is a simple way to grow your customer base and spread your product around the world.

Create engaging, culture-specific marketing content to appeal to travellers from all nations

Culture is something unique, almost intangible. What will appeal and encourage sales from one nation might put off people from another. If you want to really engage with customers from a certain country, you need to understand the culture and adapt your marketing and content appropriately. Your translation needs to take into account both linguistic and cultural subtleties if you want your message to resonate.

Boost your local search rankings

Translated content is a sure way to get traction with the major search engines. More traction means more traffic, and more traffic means, hopefully, more sales. And that’s the goal here, right? But it’s not enough to just have plenty of nicely translated content. There’s little point in having information on the services and products you provide in multiple languages if the booking process isn’t also amended. Which brings us to…

Make booking easier

Plenty of travel companies have service and product information adequately translated into a variety of languages, but occasionally this attention to detail doesn’t stretch to the final transaction or payment process. Making transactions clear and understandable for users from all over the world is vital if you want to reduce basket abandonment and give off an air of reassurance.

Increase loyalty, radiate trust and boost authority

The travel industry is all about reputation. Your services and products might be the best in sector, but if you have a few bad reviews or a website that fails to communicate your quality, the only way is down. If you want to radiate authority and be seen as a respectable operator for international travellers, you simply must translate your content accurately.

Is no translation better than poor translation?

This is an interesting question - it could go either way. Put yourself in the customer’s position for a second. You’re browsing through a travel services website for, let’s say, horse riding trips around the UK. Unfortunately, being Chinese, your English is sketchy at best. Which of the following would be better?...

  1. The site has Chinese translation enabled, but it’s clearly been written by a non-native/robot, there are plenty of mistakes and to be honest it’s pretty clumsy.
  2. There is no translation, but the site seems professional enough – at least through your passable understanding.

So let’s take a closer look. First of all, in the above example we are assuming the customer has at least a basic knowledge of the original language. This is important. It’s safe to assume that no booking is going to take place unless some element of understanding is present.

The interesting question here is how a poor level of translation reflects upon your business. If you were a foreign customer searching through a website, and the translation into your language was clumsy, full of errors and generally pretty funny, how would you feel? In all honesty it’s hardly going to inspire your trust and encourage you to get your wallet out.

On the other hand, when it comes to translation it’s fair to say that something is better than nothing. Tis applies for website browsing as much as it does when you’re asking for directions on holiday. Translated content, no matter how accurate, could be all the difference between foreign customers persevering through your site or simply giving up at the first time of asking.

Sure, maybe your startup isn’t at the stage where you can afford professional translation services. Short of inadvertently hiring people from all over the world to create original content, you might think that there isn’t much you can do yet. But as we have seen, even a passable translation of content and booking platforms is better than nothing at all. As well as spreading your services across the world and expanding your reach in the short term, you could begin to build customer bases in places you never thought possible.

How Travelshift Fits In

At Travelshift we realise the importance of communicating effectively with customers from all over the world. Our software has pushed translations to the frontend, while we have added unique, localising capabilities to our platform to handle all languages, including those from the massive Asian market.

The art of adapting to any market, mastered

There are plenty of things that young travel agencies need to know with regards to localising websites. Did you know that, for example, the national firewall of china blocks pages that have Google maps on them, simply because Google services are censored in China? The same goes for Facebook, which means that even the presence of Facebook’s ‘like’ buttons affect the ranking of pages negatively.

We understand that the real challenge is to have a collection of localised, yet connected, websites that can be indexed by all major search engines, not just Google. There are also massive trends internationally regarding social media sites, with some preferred in Asia that western users will never have even heard of. The key then, is to build a systems that can handle different social sharing features depending on localised versions. Usually, it´s all or nothing, but it’s something the Travelshift platform has the capability to do.