Tour operators

Guest Post: Don’t get lost in translation, how automation can deliver superb experiences

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Guest Post: Don’t get lost in translation, how automation can deliver superb experiences

By Kevin Ashbridge, Account Director at SDL

Whether consumers are traveling for business or leisure, the travel process itself shouldn’t be an added inconvenience.

Yet, when it comes to family holiday planning, more than a quarter (27%) of Brits find the planning, booking and preparation a source of great stress.

While travel can often come with its typical frustrations like delayed flights or lost luggage, once at the final destination travellers should be anything but stressed.

With an increasing expectation of superb customer experiences today, travel and hospitality brands need to step up their game. We are seeing this with innovations like digital concierges and mobile check-ins.

Yet, many brands are still missing the mark when it comes to a fundamental, yet critical aspect of customer experience: language.

There is only one language that matters: the customer’s own language. With this mantra in mind, businesses must understand that language lies at the heart of an excellent customer experience.

While travel and hospitality companies understand this need of a local and personalised experience, they also understand the difficulties in supporting every customer’s language.

Keeping in mind the costs and resources that would go into this, businesses need to determine their unique needs.

Of course, each industry has its own challenges when it comes to language and translation; travel and hospitality companies are required to translate billions of words of customer reviews as quickly as possible.

They must be equipped to deal with the varying types of content needed in this highly digital market.

To achieve this, they need to be armed with the right tools for high volume product translation, a solution for user generated content, international support and customer service, through real-time translation of reviews, emails and online chat conversations.

As a first step, companies should examine the vast range of documents that they are translating which have touch points with the customer.

This may include legal and marketing documents, website content, mobile apps, itineraries, email, live chat support and user reviews. All of these require a level of quality, but it’s not the same level across the board.

Legal and marketing must be human translated, because a machine is incapable of delivering the required nuance.

Some website content and support information can often be translated by machines with a small amount of post-editing by human hands. Apps, itineraries and other high-volume information can benefit from real-time automated translation.

Machine translation, along with other language technologies, such as authoring support, translation memories, glossaries and terminology dictionaries, all deliver significant cost saving to businesses – money that can be reinvested in supporting even more languages.

Ultimately, it’s all about having a two-pronged approach to translation and determining where there are human versus automated machine needs.

Organisations should also be conscious of opportunities when it comes to catering to emerging markets and languages.

In the West, the “fall-back language” for a traveller — the one used when the local language is not understood at all — is English.

This is troublesome for Russian travellers, who typically learn very little English. This case is the same in China and other regions too.

Imagine the opportunity for brands to entertain and accommodate this growing market with increasing translation needs.

Ultimately, athough the travel and hospitality industry caters to millions of people every day, a travel experience should be personal for each individual customer. As the travel audience becomes increasingly diverse, catering to multiple languages and cultures is essential.

And as location isn’t always indicative of language, it’s also important to have a personalised strategy that goes beyond traditional translation and accounts for cultural idioms and other nuances.

The key to achieving this lies in understanding customers’ backgrounds and needs, and meeting them with a blend of human and machine translation.

This will leave no room for customers’ needs to get lost in translation, building brand loyalty that will extend far past one trip.


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