For Websites, Cultural Fluency Is Key to Unlocking Revenue

COCONUT CREEK, FL—Authenticity is the buzzword of the moment in hospitality as it permeates various aspect of the hotel business, ranging from local experiences to interior design to customer service. In essence, guests want brands to keep it real. These savvy consumers can see through something that is forced or manufactured. You have to speak their language—wherever they are—to make a lasting connection. What happens when it’s lost in translation?

Addressing the need for cultural fluency is an important piece of the puzzle, according to Chuck Whiteman, SVP of client services at Motion Point Corporation based here. With websites serving as an entry point into the brand, it’s vital that companies learn to use the right words in the right regions to offer an experience that speaks authentically to the consumer and leads to increased online engagement and conversion rates, as well as captured revenue.

“Hotel and travel is a vertical that we do a lot of business in. Founded in 2000, we are at our core a technology company and we really solve a tricky technology problem. The larger a website is, the more dynamic it is and the more markets you’re trying to serve that site into. It’s more challenging to localize it effectively, cost effectively and in a way that delivers the kind of customer experience that consumers demand,” said Whiteman. “Our technology allows our customers to manage their general market website, however they serve it up, and leverage our technology—which sits between their general market website and their customers around the world. We dynamically tailor the user experience for whoever is requesting that page on the fly.”

Here’s how it works: MotionPoint’s technology enables it to layer a pre-existing translation dynamically as it is being served to the end user; remove content that is irrelevant; modify imagery; and tailor its look and feel.

“We’re doing that for a Japanese airline serving customers outside of Japan. Consumers are expecting a less cluttered user experience than in the company’s home market. It’s a turnkey solution to service a global audience with a general market website,” said Whiteman. “A lot of what we do is design to create organic traffic and visibility for the websites we manage. There literally is not a Spanish version of the JetBlue site or Portuguese version of Fontainebleau Miami Beach. It’s our website sitting in front of the end user in Sao Paulo. We’re creating a virtual website on the fly. It looks like a completely separate website. For a lot of our clients, we monitor their pre-production area of the website and as they publish content to the web, we’re able to translate it, QA it, etc. Our standard turnaround time is one business day.”

MotionPoint serves numerous verticals, with the travel industry among the most mature segments it serves because of its global audience, noted Whiteman. Hospitality clients include Best Western, Extended Stay America, InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG), Karisma Hotels & Resorts and Wyndham Hotel Group, to name a few.

“Generally, when we win new business in the travel sector, we’re highlighting how much additional cost there is and how much slower they are in reacting to changes to their core market website and reflecting that into other markets. The problem we solve is just the same,” he said.

In terms of cultural fluency, Whiteman offers a few tips to consider:

Control the customer experience: “The term customer experience is all the rage these days and the reason is because the experience is what drives conversion rates, and most hotel sites are transitional and you’re trying to get them to convert.”

Build a level trust: “When talking to people outside your market, you need to establish some trust. If you can take your best website and put it in the right language, that goes a long way of creating trust rather then showing them something dated in terms of content. We find that is a good tip that isn’t obvious to a lot of operators.”

Maximize mobile: “It’s not news, but mobile is an even larger percentage of traffic internationally. It has surprised me how slow the travel business has been making sites responsive and making the user experience better. Overseas folks are more likely to access your site via mobile. To deliver a responsive experience in multiple languages is a real technology challenge we make easy.”