Localisation strategies for the hospitality sector

As we head into the next decade, we are sure to see many more applications of technology to enhance the travel experience for global travelers. There is a need for a clearly defined localisation strategy to enable travel, tourism and hospitality companies to think global and act local.

Let’s look now at three common localisation strategies which, in our experience, have proven effective models for players in the travel, tourism and hospitality sector. Although we cannot mention company names, we have expanded on the strategies by providing real examples the Ultimate Languages’ team have worked as part of.

Before we jump into our examples, it’s important to remember that localisation forms a very small part of an organisation’s global content strategy. Since we won’t be going into content strategies here, download our recently updated eBook; Globalisation and the future of travel.

Centralised localisation strategy

One of the top ten European headquartered hotel chains were working with a single language service vendor to translate their website into seven languages. The client became increasingly unhappy with the translation quality and slow turnaround times.

In 2014 they began to think about how to move to a multi-vendor approach, severing ties with the incumbent. By moving to a new vendor, the client understood they would also lose the technology used to streamline the translation workflow. The client therefore took it upon themselves to find an alternative solution which would allow them to regain control of the workflow and support a multi-vendor approach.

During this period the client issued a tender to select appropriate suppliers to form the basis of their multi-vendor approach, stipulating how important quality was for them. Each vendor would be assigned up to three languages to allow the client to closely monitor the performance of each supplier, and quality of the translations they produce.

The chosen technology was implemented and tested with each vendor, resulting in a smooth localisation process that allows each vendor to continue using their preferred CAT tool(s).

To this date, the client has maintained a multivendor strategy to deliver the very best quality localised content for their international customers, whilst introducing healthy competition between vendors in the form of yearly re-sampling and pricing reviews.

Decentralised localisation strategy

Our second example is from a small independent hotel chain with luxury properties in The Americas, Western Europe and North Africa.

Although the flagship hotel is in North America, management made the decision to let each property handle their own localisation needs in order to appear as local as possible.

Translation, localisation and international SEO is incorporated into each property’s annual marketing budget to empower the property to choose where and when to utilise the allocated funds.

The only aspects stipulated at a corporate level were the content management system used to host and manage the local sites, company values, style guidelines and branding.

This decentralised approach has been in place for several years and the corporate team have no plans to change it as the localised sites continue to deliver an increase in bookings year-on-year.

Combined localisation strategy

The next organisation implemented a translation management system that would allow them to centralise the localisation process, whilst providing the regional teams the option to on-board their own preferred vendors.

The chosen system allowed the ability to configure multiple workflows for the each of the organisation’s needs, including international SEO.

Alongside the TMS, the global headquarters also implemented a centralised approach for the localisation of the corporate website(s) and marketing documentation relating to the company’s loyalty schemes.

The regional marketing teams operate in a de-centralised way. They are empowered to work with local vendors on the localisation of region-specific marketing collateral, whilst being given access to the TMS to tender specific projects to the full range of vendors on-boarded to the system.

The regional teams were also given access to the system as “validators” so native speakers can conduct subject matter reviews and approve company-specific terminology and guidelines.

Budgets are centralised and managed at global headquarters, so the regional teams need to be very careful when choosing the content to localise since once the money’s gone, it’s gone!

When localisation strategies go wrong

In this final example, the organisation initially implementing a centralised approach to localisation as part of the scope for the internationalisation of their website. At the time they went through a tendering process to select the most suitable language service provider for their requirements. The global team stressed the need for a single vendor as part of their strategy.

The regional marketing teams were involved in the selection process and subject matter review of the localised content but did not hold their own budgets and could not use their own local vendors.

Two years after the launch of the newly localised website, management decided to move to a decentralised approach giving control back to the regional teams. The regional teams were able to use their own vendors, manage their requests and dictate the workflow, all paid for by decentralised, locally managed budgets.

As a result, many issues ensued, including the following…

  • Website updates were not maintained in the local languages
  • Marketing collateral differed from region to region
  • Many changes were made to the source content during translation resulting in corporate messages which differed from region to region

By giving the regional teams free reign, the global headquarters eventually had to make the decision to revert to a centralised approach in order to regain control.

Implementation of tech

Our final word on localisation strategies for the travel, tourism and hospitality sector, is to identify and implement the right technology, platforms and tools to deliver the strategy successfully; as we have seen from the examples above.

The travel industry is one of the most innovative in the world, as well as one of the quickest to adopt new technologies. To stay ahead of the competition, it is incredibly important for travel organisations to think outside the box to reach their global customers in a more creative and engaging way, through new digital mediums.

We have created an infographic that highlights five technology trends we believe will positively impact and help the growth of the travel sector in the coming months and years. Download the infographic here.

To learn more about other trends which look set to change global organisations’ localisation strategies head over to our article Translation trends for 2020.

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