The hotel industry is synonymous with hospitality; hotels thrive when their guests feel accommodated in every possible way. Many companies constantly ask themselves: ‘How can we increase the number of guests?’ It may appear that the strategy should work, but the desired results have not yielded. Localising the hotel industry through various channels is one way to engage with customers and is easier than it appears.
How can you fend off global competition? This question was posed to a panel featuring Wharf Hotels, Hotel ICON, ONYX Hospitality Group and Sabre Hospitality Solutions. Their answer? By localisation, personalisation and doing things differently.
Sometimes, mere translation of a service is not sufficient. Translations often feel stilted and unappealing, missing an infusion of idioms and vocabulary of the target language. With machine translations, there is always the risk of errors. Customers respond more positively to attempts to understand their language and culture. Instead of being considered just a consumer, guests feel catered to as individuals. This is where localising the hotel industry comes in.
Donald A. DePalma states ‘localisation stacks up to be a great bargain’ and does not cost a lot of money. According to this study, interviewees reported spending between a quarter of 1%-2.5% of non-Anglophone market revenue per year to localise websites and other service-related materials. Localisation benefits hotel businesses and does not dent the budget. It is certainly a worthy investment.
Moreover, localisation ensures the reduction of the risk of cultural misinterpretation. Imagine if websites or printed materials include offensive slang or harmful stereotypes. The customer is put off and the company’s brand is tarnished. Unless hotel staff hails from the same countries and knows how to relate to them, it is best to consult professionals.
A recent example of hotels using localisation: Instaroom’s concierge platform for hoteliers. The feature provides hotels with customer data through analytics tools and a messaging service. More importantly, ‘the solution offers a branded, automated website widget, localisation and personalisation that greets all customers in their native language.’ This is significant. The app delivers a personal service that customers can relate to and are happy to receive. In their minds, the app offers complete attention to service. If they have any questions, they can receive the answers in their hand within seconds.
Localising the Hotel Industry? Here is How to Do it:
One way localising the hotel industry helps to boost tourism, is localising the business’ official website. With the decline of local high street travel agencies, the majority of tourists conduct holiday planning online. As everyone is online, online portals are effective methods to connect with customers, existing and potential. This includes scouting for potential hotels. If the company site is not available in customers’ languages, they will struggle to gain the information needed. It communicates the message that the customer is not a priority nor will they be fully accommodated. It also suggests that the hotel does not receive guests from a range of international destinations, therefore, is not popular. These variables come into consideration when people plan their holiday; hotel bodies should be attuned to them. Localising the hotel industry through the official website is core.
Another way localising the hotel industry boosts tourism is to target published material. Localising reading materials is also essential to making guests feel welcome. Brochures, maps and tips (e.g. the best restaurants in the area) provided by hotels, could better the holiday experience. It would be pointless to provide these materials in the host country’s language, as knowledge of the language cannot be guaranteed. Additionally, the guest would feel more confident in the service provided by the hotel and be inclined to return. A further benefit of localising leaflets would be a relationship with other local businesses: more promotion for the hotel. Building a rapport with local businesses provides the opportunity for hotels to increase publicity. This is another way localising the hotel industry can boost tourism.
Lastly, the use of localised apps can cut out the middleman. Apps empower customers from outside the Anglophone world, such as China, to take control of their bookings. Customers using localised apps reduce administrative costs. Localising the hotel industry using the methods above will help boost tourism.
How You Can Get the Best Out of Localisation
Strategy. Strategy. Strategy. Without a well-thought-out strategy, attempts localising the hotel industry may fall flat. Examine customer demographics: age, purpose for stay and, more importantly, country of origin. Customer segmentation is vital to cater to consumer’s needs in any industry; it can make the planning process smoother. Hotels can then detect which language is most in demand for localisation and cater to the numbers. Initially, purpose of stay may seem redundant, however, some groups may be in the country for excursions and specialised tours. Hotels wanting to bolster customer satisfaction offer reading materials informing customers of local activities of interest. In that way, hotels demonstrate an interest in enhancing customers’ stay. Thus, localising the hotel industry can be instrumental in increasing customer satisfaction.
An additional idea worthy of attention includes surveys. Localised surveys connect with customers by asking them what motivates them to book, first impressions of the hotel brand etc. Translation works too; on the other hand, localisation can work better to build business-client rapport. It signals businesses’ interest in the customer. Rather than being talked at by a translation, localisation invites customers to join in the discussion – whatever it is.
Hotels should monitor traffic to the site before and after localisation to measure its success. Businesses can then track the success of the conversion rate and re-strategise if unsuccessful. This is the most important aspect of the strategy to boost tourism by using localisation. Without tracking progress, hotels risk not detecting problems or missing opportunities that could improve their service. If there is an element of service that the customer is unhappy with, this is the opportunity to correct it.
Localising the hotel industry is the key to boost tourism, whether through websites, printed material or mobile apps. The world is ever-changing and competition is overshadowed by globalisation and the development of technology. Companies should ask themselves: what clues can they derive from customer demographics? How can they use these clues in their strategies? Hotels can take the headache out of every minute detail by working in partnership with translation and localisation experts. Experts are knowledgeable of how to best appeal to customers, which undoubtedly benefits the hotel industry. Investment in the localisation process pays off in the end. Through localised services, hotel chains demonstrate thorough awareness of the customer, care and acknowledgement as a unique individual.
Linguist Point is dedicated to guiding clients towards the best possible outcome of projects. With our team of knowledgeable and technology-savvy translators, we can assist you through the localisation of your hotel business so you can build a bridge with customers, current and new.