Why language matters to the travel industry
Boosted by the boom in new communication technology, globalisation is making travel accessible to everyone. Exploring the world has become appealing and exciting at any age – whether we speak other languages or not. This means that when looking to promote the advantages of a country, region, city or attraction, tourism professionals are addressing a multilingual audience. The need to provide information across the language divide about the customs and culture of a place, whether through guidebooks, brochures or online, is a recurrent theme. It is essential to stand out from your competitors, and one of the key ingredients for success is the careful translation of your content.
Implementing an appropriate linguistic strategy
When seeking to communicate with a target audience overseas, you must of course address your readers in their own language. It is a mistake to assume that all travellers speak fluent English.
You should determine which nationalities are the most common among your client base and decide on two or three main languages in which to translate your texts.
Of course it’s about being logical.
There’s no need to translate your website into Chinese if you are targeting an mainly European audience.
However, if you are noticing an increasing number of South Americans in your customer base and that your brochures are only in French and English, it would be wise add Spanish and/or Portuguese to your languages.
Using professional translators who translate into their native language
Translating your website or brochure is an important job that should be carried out by professional translators who translate into their native languages. Automatic translation services such as Google Translate should be avoided at all costs. Why is that? You might think that a mediocre translation is better than no translation at all. Don’t be so sure!
A poor translation sends out the wrong message and can lead to misunderstandings. At best it could be comical and discredit your business. At worst it will deter potential tourists. Neither scenario is without consequences for your goal to develop your target market. A sign at a hotel entrance that reads “English well speaking”, for example, demonstrates very clearly that English is not in fact spoken well in your establishment and that this statement is false. This is reason enough to make English speakers turn away, particularly if they are seeking the reassurance that someone inside speaks their own language.
Showcasing cultural traits
Furthermore, in the tourism industry, translations need to be carried out by people who are familiar with both the marketing culture of the target country, and the culture of the country being showcased.
For example, to inform a French audience about an offer in Spain, it is important to be familiar with the differences between the two countries so as to properly highlight cultural features of potiential interest and ensure they will be correctly understood and appreciated by the target audience.
In short, to make sure that an offer will appeal to a foreign audience, the target audience must be well defined, the documentation must be translated into the selected languages, and this work should be carried out by language professionals! The resulting quality will have clear and tangible benefits for the image of your business and what you have to offer.