Nowadays, the majority of travellers use the Internet as their primary tool for discovering parts of the world they want to visit, attractions they want to see and hotels they want to stay in. The Internet is also the main tool for making purchasing decisions, and a lot of purchases (including the majority of hotel bookings) are done online. This is why it is absolutely crucial that hotel webpages are impeccable and offer potential guests all the information they need, in a format that is both easily understandable and attractive.
But having a website that is carefully designed, technically flawless and rich in useful information is not enough; the webpage must also be understood by (all) potential visitors. It may sound really trivial, sure, but the problem is that a lot of hotels forget about that when providing information for foreign guests who might not understand the hotel’s native language. With inbound tourism being very developed in most countries around the world nowadays, simply missing a large mass of foreign travellers due to them not being able to understand what your webpage says, is definitely a mistake to be avoided. So why exactly do smart hotels offer their webpages in various languages?
#1: Website translation is an SEO strategy
If you are not on Google, you don’t exist. Full stop. This statement is true for most businesses in most areas of the world. For some countries it may not be Google but Baidu (56.6% of the market share in China), Yandex (60% of the market share in Russia) or Bing and Yahoo, but the end result is still the same – if your business does not appear among a search engine’s top results, you are at a great disadvantage. Especially in very competitive industries – and the hotel industry is definitely one nowadays.
Hotels that are aware of the potential of being visible on the Internet therefore translate their webpages into various languages. The logic is simple – the more languages a certain webpage appears in, the more people from various countries will be able to find that website when searching online.
#2: Reaching new markets
Creating an effective SEO strategy is, of course, not the only purpose of translating a webpage into various languages; the most important aspect of it is reaching new markets and increasing revenue through expanding the customer base. With travelling abroad being so easy, comfortable and relatively cheap nowadays, it is a big missed opportunity for hotels not to specifically target foreign visitors. They will gladly come and spend some money in a hotel, but hotels need to give them the opportunity to even consider them as an option. Translating key webpages into various languages does just that.
#3: Satisfying modern savvy customers
For savvy modern consumers it is not enough to just quickly check a hotel and book it through booking.com or a similar web portal. With thousands of choices being offered to them in this competitive industry, they want to make sure they select the right one, and that means also searching for additional information on the hotel’s webpages.
But some of those who travel abroad don’t speak the language of their destination country, so they’d rather choose hotels that offer them all the additional information in a language they can fully understand. Would you book a hotel that offers the following description of their services?
“Luksuzen hotel, ki se nahaja v samem središču mesta in omogoča lahek dostop do vseh večjih znamenitosti, ponuja sodobno opremljene sobe z razkošnimi kopalnicami po zelo ugodnih cenah.”
Probably not. What if that description was translated to a language you can understand? You just might.
#4: Surviving through quiet periods of the year
Most hotels in the world, except for some lucky ones in special locations, are not nearly full during off-season. For some that means winter, for others summer, or maybe the period after the holiday season, and for others something completely different, but for all hotels it means greatly decreased revenue.
However, since foreign guests are usually less season-sensitive than domestic ones – if they want to travel to another country and experience its culture, they are prepared to do so in any period of the year and, moreover, they often even purposely decide to travel off-season, since they can make significant savings, as costs are usually lower during this time. Attracting foreign guests is a big financial opportunity for hotels, but it helps if these travellers are addressed in a language they can understand.
However, there is a one thing you should consider: don’t rely on machine translation – while it may help you get the gist of a text, it is far from ideal when you want your carefully crafted message to reach potential visitors. It will work, but for your competition. Unless your restaurant actually offers ‘chicken rude and unreasonable’ as a staple meal, you should steer clear and use professional translation services instead. Otherwise, your reputation may be at stake. Are you willing to risk it?