Localization Helps Hotel Chains Grow in Key Global Regions


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Localization Helps Hotel Chains Grow in Key Global Regions

By Liz Elting

GlobalHotelNetwork.com - July 16, 2013

As hotel chains expand internationally, they have one goal in common: attracting global and national travelers. To successfully do that, these major hoteliers need to reach consumers in their own languages and across all touch points– whether it’s a website, mobile app, or through interactions on-property. And while simply resolving to target consumers in their native languages is a great first step, a brand’s true success depends in large part on creating localized content that is culturally appropriate beyond strict language translation. While there are economic concerns across much of the world, the global hotel market grew in 2012, and Ernst & Young predicts that “the effects of a slow and stubborn recovery are positioned to materialize in 2013.” Here are the key geographical areas where the hotel industry is poised for fast growth, and some tips on how hotel chains can effectively reach travelers within each of these markets.

Brazil

Brazil is set to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and as such is investing its resources in building the necessary infrastructure to support the millions of incoming tourists. Hospitality businesses like hotels and restaurants are in high demand and many international chains are working to establish a presence in the country. As they do so, they must note that Portuguese is the primary language of Brazil, but many Brazilians are bilingual – other languages spoken here include Spanish, German, and several indigenous tongues.

China

China is poised for strong growth in the hospitality industry, as is the entire Asia-Pacific region. In fact, Ernst & Young anticipates that approximately 100 million Chinese tourists will travel abroad in 2013, which will directly benefit the surrounding countries. The Chinese market is a challenging language market because while Standard Mandarin is the official spoken language, there are more than 292 living languages spoken. On top of this, these languages all have varying degrees of dialectical influence. Brands also need to consider that most Chinese consumers are highly sensitive to price.

The Middle East

The rise of Chinese leisure travelers will also assist the growth of the Middle East’s hospitality industry, particularly hot destinations like Dubai. Middle East consumers not only desire, but expect top-notch customer service that is in their language and reflective of their customs. For brands that want to communicate digitally with Middle Eastern consumers, they need to demonstrate an intimate knowledge of regional languages. While the predominant languages are Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish, there are many more unique languages and dialects spoken in the region. In many areas, one or more outside languages are interspersed with the local dialect. For example, in Lebanon, French and English are often mixed with the local Arabic dialect.

To establish a loyal following in these emerging, fast-growth markets with complex travel and linguistic preferences, businesses need to translate and localize their online presence with careful consideration for local habits. As brands expand to new regions and audiences, they need to clearly define a language and content strategy, which should include the use of technology to publish multilingual content that meets the pre-defined strategy goals. Hotel chains also need to remember that many travelers will want to research hotels for an upcoming trip online in their native language. It’s incredibly important for this first touch point with a customer to be an enjoyable one, so that the web user converts to book a room. Travelers won’t book a hotel stay if they can’t find the site through an organic internet search and understand the content once they arrive on the homepage. The best way to gain market share is to provide quality brand experiences that make consumers feel included and valued.

 
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