How To Go Beyond Online Travel Agents for Multilingual Travel and Hotel Marketing
In 2018, International Travel & Tourism generated 10.4% of global GDP – contributing 319 million jobs (one in every ten jobs worldwide) and $8.8 trillion. Its growth at 3.9% is the second-fastest, closely behind Manufacturing (4%).
In the past eight years, the Travel and Tourism sector consecutively outpaced the global economy average growth rate of 3.2%. (World Travel & Tourism Council: Travel & Tourism: Global Economic Impact & Trends 2019)
Growth in revenue from this sector was mostly fueled by the increase in leisure tourism spend, a hefty 78.5% as compared to the 21.5% spending on business travels. Travel and Tourism, together with Hospitality and Hotels, will continue to remain the engine of global economic growth.
Why Hotel And Travel Brands Should Push For Direct Bookings
For many brands, the inclination to go global or multilingual goes hand-in-hand with using Online Travel Agents (OTA).
The ease of use is high, and this has become a common first step for brands looking to appeal to global audiences in local languages. Many hoteliers, for example, prefer OTAs as many OTAs already have a global online presence.
Brands, however, should push for direct bookings on their website in local languages instead of relying on OTAs.
There are three main benefits to this approach:
1. Greater visibility for travelers to influence decision-making
When searching through OTA websites for travel and hotel options, travelers are able to look through hundreds of possible options. Travelers will then narrow down their options to three or four, and then make a decision between them.
Overreliance on OTAs to bring in bookings will result in brands depending on the OTA to make their brand stand out. Your brand can look indistinguishable from others when viewed on a OTA website.
To make their decision easier, travelers tend to source for more information on the hotel online, then buy through the OTA.
Your hotel’s branded website, then, will play a crucial role in helping travelers make that decision.
A page dedicated to explaining your Unique Selling Point in great detail, for example, might be the tipping point for potential travelers to choose your hotel over competitors’.
Details about the difference between the rooms might influence travelers to pick a more expensive room through the OTA.
Providing direct booking on your website may also influence travelers who are cost-conscious, as they’ll be able to confirm their cost savings by buying through the OTA.
Showing off your loyalty program may influence travelers to book through your website instead of through the OTA.
This means they may end up buying either through the OTA or your website, whichever is more enticing.
In the end, your website forms the stepping stone for that decision to choose your brand over another.
In order for this to work within the context of multilingual marketing, your website needs to be accessible to potential customers from all around the globe, in a bid to positively influence their decision.
A website that shows its commitment to welcoming guests from other countries (in the form of local languages) will help drive loyalty and engagement, and eventually converting them to guests directly on your hotel’s brand website.
After all, if they can’t read, they won’t buy.
2. Less commission to be paid to OTAs = more marketing budget to spend
This is the most common, but still relevant, argument in choosing to invest in direct bookings: direct bookings means not having to pay commissions ranging from 10-20% to OTAs.
For brands with narrow profit margins, that 10-20% can make the difference between being in the red or the green that financial year. That extra 10-20% can also be used for better promotional campaigns, such as targeted advertising and improving local SEO.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that brands shouldn’t use OTAs at all. There are noted benefits to using OTAs, such as reducing the inventories of un-booked rooms during off-peak periods. Brands, however, need to balance this incoming profit with the outgoing commissions OTAs take.
3. Higher ease of running local Marketing Campaigns
When you own your content, it becomes much easier to run and analyze the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. Running SEM campaigns or updating SEO code is difficult to do when your content is hosted through OTAs.
With direct bookings in local languages on your own website, you can create content that resonates and keep your global audiences engaged. That content marketing can be tailored to the end-goal of getting the travelers to book on your website, and can be tracked through analytics tools without going through a third-party.
By not relying 100% on OTAs, brands can retain some control over where their business is visible, and craft campaigns for translated pages that target specific audiences and markets.
Breaking Down Language Barriers
Whether one is engaging with seasoned travelers or the nouveau riche, there is an art to offering your guests a hospitable stay. For your guests to leave with a pleasantly memorable encounter – it all starts with the customer experience.
Taking your customers on a journey begins with identifying the language of communication they are most comfortable in.
In global business marketing, one has to be conscious of the fact that English is no longer the first language of 80% (or 6 billion) habitants in the world.
These businesses compete by delivering ‘memorable experiences’, especially with their foreign visitors or guests. The primary focus here is on serving the needs and penchants of travelers originating from multicultural markets the world over.
It’s even more challenging due to the varied needs of a much broader client-base who range from young millennials to young families and to the silver generation.
But, how do you start with translating your website?
While meeting the unique linguistic needs of your foreign guests or customers by getting your website information and sales literature translated seems straightforward, it is a mistake to assume this is a one-off solution.
Consistent, excellent work to ensure that local language versions of your site match your brand’s identity and tone of voice is the key, and that requires a lot more than just plugging the text into a free translation website.