Creating Materials with Globalization in Mind: A Best Practice

By Angel Zimmerman Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer, Sajan | December 01, 2013

Few things are as important in the world of hospitality as throwing your doors open to multinational guests and creating a positive, welcoming reception. A major part of meeting those five-star expectations is producing compelling and valuable content to draw in customers and keep them coming back. Some form of your brand message is usually the first thing a potential guest encounters when he or she is introduced to your property, whether it's your global website, your mobile booking app or an online advertisement. Are your all-important materials adequately adapted for customers in China, India, Spain and any others you see on your digital guest list? If not, you could be effectively closing the door on a very large portion of your international customers.

Creating valuable content goes a long way toward establishing your hotel brand as trustworthy, but if customers in other countries can't read or understand that content-it's hard to see the value in it beyond your home country. It's true that for a global customer base comprising multiple countries, creating effective content becomes exponentially trickier, because you're dealing with multiple languages and various cultural expectations. These factors are addressed during translation and localization. Yet what many hotel managers don't fully realize is that the localization process can proceed much more smoothly if the source content is created with globalization in mind right from the start.

When Translation is an Afterthought - or Absent Altogether

If a piece of content hasn't been authored with translation and localization in mind from the initial content creation stage, it can be very apparent to linguists. Ambiguity, needless word repetition and inconsistent phrasing can all lead to extra translation efforts and more time needed. Worse, if a linguist has an incorrect understanding of the content because of the way it is written or produced, the resulting translation will not be on point. Your hotel brand could also be compromised. For you, this means potential rework and serious time delays.

From a guest's perspective, poorly translated content-or a lack of it altogether-doesn't exactly give the impression of a rolled out welcome mat. If customers are not impressed with your translated materials or they don't see any content in their preferred languages, they are more likely to abandon your webpage (and your hotel property) for a competitor's. Anything you can do to build up the quality level of your global content ultimately improves the customer experience. Your efforts should begin where your content itself begins: the authoring stage.

Writing Standards for Localization - Friendly Content

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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.