NEW YORK—Emerging middle classes in once-remote areas of the world and a community that’s increasingly dependent on mobile technology have opened up millions of potential guests to hotels, as these travelers seek to explore the world beyond their doorstep. Of course, reaching these guests can be a bit of a problem due to language barriers—but translation software and translation data aim to mitigate that.
Juliana Pereira, head of marketing at Smartling, a translation software and services provider that helps brands access more markets, noted that there’s been a visible shift in customer purchasing habits within the travel and hospitality verticals—travelers are researching, planning and booking trips digitally, while hospitality brands seek to invest in content marketing designed to appeal to them.
“These two trends become a particular challenge for hospitality brands when they look to enter new, foreign markets and struggle to offer content marketing in local languages for that audience,” she said. “This focus on business expansion creates a need for hospitality brands to translate and localize their content—such as websites, mobile apps, marketing content, promotional offers, support content and more—into local languages in order to access new markets, more customers and greater value.”
The problem with translation services, Pereira said, is they’ve traditionally been plagued by processes that are complex, manual and costly. Additionally, the data and quality of the translations have been problematic. “Translation quality is key for global brands,” Pereira said. “The goal of localization is not only the process of translating content into another language or other languages, but is also about capturing the essence of your brand and communicating your brand’s values in a way that resonates with local audiences. Without data to measure translation quality, brands could be launching content into new markets that don’t appropriately reflect their brand.
“Luckily, translation software has been an area that has really grown and matured over the past 10 years,” she continued. “Using technologies like a translation management system and computer-assisted translation tools can help brands better manage their content while helping translators do their jobs more accurately. A robust translation software and technology-backed language services can also provide data to help brands measure the performance of their global content, which is critical for making future decisions on which additional languages to expand into or what types of content should be prioritized for translation.”
There are several major benefits of translation data. “First, if a business is having challenges going to market quickly, they can leverage data collected in a powerful translation management system to see where there might be a breakdown in the translation supply chain,” Pereira said, noting this provides real-time visibility so brands can make fast decisions to improve key processes. “Second, brands looking at translation data regularly can detect trends and insights that could help reduce cost. For example, many hotel brands decide to use a translation workflow process that involves a translator, an editor and a reviewer. Each of these steps have a cost attached, and while this cost may be a few cents per word, that adds up quickly when companies are translating at scale. For certain types of content that are less valuable—like support content or editorial blog content—we’ve seen some of our hospitality customers decide to change their workflow process to only use translators and editors and not reviewers, or even just use the translators and not employ any edit or review steps, which reduces overall cost. Smart brands will use their translation data to make these decisions.”
Finally, she said, “Translation data goes beyond simply measuring the process and workflows of localization itself. Coupling your translation efforts with website analytics and customer data can provide insight into your overall translation ROI, and can help businesses uncover new opportunities for expansion. For example, a global hospitality brand may notice a sudden spike in traffic to its website from a certain region, or perhaps they see in their CRM that they have numerous gold-star customers booking through their mobile app in a specific country. That brand might decide it wants to test translating some of the most important content, like time-sensitive promotions or the booking engine on mobile, to see if they can boost revenue from that audience. If conversion rates and revenue increase, then that could indicate a bigger opportunity for expansion in that market or for that audience.”
According to Pereira, some hotel brands have been very evolved in their approach to global content and translation data. “With budgets getting tighter and pressure to go to market faster in more languages, a lot of hotel brands are thinking about how they can optimize their localization strategies to get more out of their efforts,” she said. “With the amount of competition in the hospitality space, a lot of global hotel brands have always needed to be smart about their business investments, and we’ve seen that applied to how several of these brands we work with approach translation data. As they translate more content into more languages, we’re seeing that hunger for more data and actionable insights increasing so that these brands can achieve or maintain their global dominant position.”
And this is a good thing since the need to attract global travelers digitally will only increase in the future. “Mobile is exploding and is rapidly becoming the dominant platform for accessing and transacting on the internet, and we expect to see continued growth as mobile expands businesses into new markets,” Pereira said. She pointed to a statistic from “Digital Opportunity: Top 100 Online Languages for 2016,” a report from industry analyst Common Sense Advisory: 79% of the global audience accessing digital content do not speak English, and only 36% of online GDP come from English speakers.
“Translating content into other languages offers a competitive advantage for accessing more global markets,” she said. “Many of the larger hospitality brands are already translating their content into other languages, but, more and more, we believe that smaller brands with global aspirations looking to grab market share in key locales will take advantage of these business opportunities by expanding their content into additional languages.”