technology, hospitality, and plumbing…

Opening new markets — should i translate my hotel website?

In General on August 10, 2010 at 18:30

Opening new markets -- should i translate my hotel website?This is a common one. I’ve been building hotel websites for clients for 10 years now, and a common request is to make them multilingual. However, there are 2 particular issues you need to look out for.

Firstly, have you thought about how much it costs to create the copy in a 2nd language? Were you thinking about freelancing it, or getting a member of staff who speaks the language to translate it? Think again. Consider how long you agonised over every single word in English, to get exactly the right copy, the right persuasive tone, that would bring you more bookings. Are you going to get the same perfect, persuasive text in a second language? It costs money to do the job right! Think copywriting in the 2nd language, not just translation.

Secondly, are you digging a hole by putting a second language on your website? You’ve probably looked at your web and booking stats, and seen that you’re getting a lot of attention from a particular country or language group. Converting more of these would benefit you hugely. However, when you create content in another language on your website, you’re sending a clear signal to would-be guests that you can support their needs operationally. Is that the case? If your Russian, French, or Arabic site brings in more bookings, and Russian, French, and Arabic speakers fill your hotel or resort, how would you cope? Are there staff on hand to deal with this, or will the experience of these guests be problematic, and generate bad word-of-mouth? In this case, you may be better simply adding a translated factsheet with the basics — honest, to-the-point, and doesn’t create false expectations.

The takeaway: having a second language on your website is a huge opportunity, but there are certain responsibilities and risks involved. The costs need to be fully examined, the operations side needs to able to cope with your new visitors, and a process for handling content updated needs to be put in place. If all these are taken care of, you can look forward to new bookings and new customers.

Anthony Green – August 2010

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