In our increasingly global industry, it’s essential for destination marketing organizations (DMOs) to understand that not all visitors to their websites and communities speak the destination’s primary language. In some US destinations, as many as 1 out of every 10 website visitors is international. As international travelers begin to cross borders again as the global pandemic permits, you can expect destinations will be vying for them.
How – and if – you design your website with a global audience in mind matters. After all, if you’re not doing it, other DMOs are.
Here are five key considerations when you look to globalize your destination’s website.
1. Translating isn’t enough. Your content has to be localized, too.
While translation is the act of changing text from one language to another, localization is the art of adapting your content to your target region or country. Managing your content in different languages makes for a deeper connection to your audience, and it gives you a competitive edge in a global market.
Making international visitors feel welcome on your website is more complex than simply using an automated translation tool. Your content, too, should ideally be both practical and culturally relevant for them.
As far as practicality, keep in mind that images, concepts and idioms don’t always hold the same meaning or perceptions across languages or cultures. A slight nuance like referring to distances in kilometers rather than miles will make your content more accessible to the international audience. With this in mind, consider localizing all parts of the visitors’ journey when building your translation strategy.
The team at Los Cabos is an excellent example of destination marketers who manage content between languages. When reviewing both their English and Spanish websites, you can see they are gorgeous, engaging and deliberate in approach. They have similar layouts, but the team incorporated special attention to each experience for the native audience, going so far as to collaborate with an agency to assist in localizing their blog content.
Much content isn’t a general one-to-one translation, so what’s important to your local (or regional, or national) visitors can be drastically different from what’s important to an international traveler.
2. Find the right translation service
Will it be the person or the robot?
Selecting your translation service is one of the most essential – and costly – factors in your decision. While some destinations prefer a more automated translation option for their websites, such as Google Translate, using a good translator can mean the difference between a click-through and a bounce.
Don’t shy from translator shopping. You want the person you select to be both a subject matter expert and someone with solid native language writing skills. A skilled translator will take the time to think through the nuances of your message and present the best way to communicate to your audience. Ask for reference or sample work to ensure they understand and can meet your destination’s voice.
3. Content placement: where will your multilingual site live?
Realize that multilingual does not mean multi-site. Most translation options do end up having their own domain, but you may want to test out the international waters within your existing site when getting started.
In this regard, a microsite can be your best friend:
- Using a microsite enables you to parse down your content to the essential information you feel is important to your global audiences.
- Page templates and content can be customized for each desired language you wish to translate.
- If you are using the Simpleview CMS, we have recently rolled out the translation module that allows you to translate across different locales within the same platform.
4. Don’t forget your data and SEO
It can be easy to get lost in your website needs. When building your content, don’t lose sight of your CRM data and the tools you use (such as calendars, listings, categories, tags and forms). Setting up your CRM for translated content is as essential as preparing your website and should be happening simultaneously. This will have a heavy hand in the successful implementation of your multilingual greatness!
Although many best practices for your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are across the global board, some adjustments can be made to ensure the best organic reach. This can include:
- International-friendly URL structure
- Relevant keywords
- Hreflang tags for language targeting
Slight modifications can make a big difference and elevate your spot in search results, so do include SEO in your translation planning.
5. Gather your resources
One of the best preparation activities you can do to implement a translation strategy successfully is to gather and provide resources for your translator. First, pull together a glossary along with reference material and collateral that can assist with keeping your content consistent with style and terminology. Next, serve up your style guide, including things like branding, perception, goals, grammar, tone, and general audience.
Pulling this information together not only will help give the translator a reference point when approaching how best to translate your content, but it gives your team a chance to ensure your current plan is set to go global. Some reorientation can sometimes do your brand a world of good.
The above five considerations should help as you take a fresh look at how you want to market to international visitors as travelers begin crossing borders again, a day we’re all eagerly awaiting. It may seem like a big step to move to the global market – and it is – but considering your content for a worldwide audience as you consider your translation strategy will expand your reach and empower your content beyond your border.