European Travel Commission (ETC) report provides an overview of the actual state of online localisation processes and activities at eleven National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) that are members of the ETC. Localisation has been defined as “the process of modifying products or services to account for differences in distinct markets” (LISA, 2007).
The number of international tourist arrivals in Europe is expected to grow from 608.6 million in 2015 to 744 million in 2030, according to a projection by UNWTO (2011). Euromonitor International (2014) indicates that 87% of travellers make use of the Internet during the travel-planning phase. Cross-cultural differences are found to be influential factors for search behaviour online. Hence, localisation needs to become an integral part of NTOs marketing strategies.
For international travellers, official destination websites and other online sources have become the most important source of information to plan their trip (World Travel Monitor, 2015). According to a research conducted by the World Travel Monitor (2015), one third of all “online” international visitors make use of destination websites as information sources. Their increase in expectations for leisure experiences that can best suit their interests represents both challenges and opportunities for marketing managers (Buhalis & Amaranggana, 2015).
DMOs are currently making an extensive use of eLearning to provide training to travel agents, so that they can promote / sell destinations with a better knowledge of the local market (Kalbaska & Cantoni, 2014). Domestic and inbound tourists seek not only services that consider their needs and preferences, but also websites translated into their own language with culturally congruent images and videos. This is why content managers are going beyond mere translation and are employing localisation practices (Mele, De Ascaniis, & Cantoni, 2016).
A recent study conducted by the European Tourism Association (ETOA, 2016) points at localisation and cultural translation of multimedia content as one of the core elements that characterises the new reality of the travel industry. Moreover, it is identified as instrumental for international marketing. The report shows that while online visitors may speak two languages, for the purchasing of travel products and services 90% of them choose their native language when available. In addition to that, 78% are more likely to buy online if the information is displayed in their mother tongue.
Findings showed that ten out of eleven NTOs consider localisation as important, and have included this process into their promotional strategy. Four out of eleven NTOs actually formalised these practices into editorial guidelines, as it provides consistency across the different website editions in terms of (i) spelling correctness, (ii) webpage layout, (iii) multimedia content, and (iv) brand identity.
Despite the fact that ten out of eleven NTOs localise textual content, the adaptation of units of measure, symbols (e.g. currency), and dates is not extensively diffused yet. NTOs need to integrate these adaptation activities to widen the accessibility of their online contents for growing international audiences, so to promote their willingness to purchase travel products and services online.
Four out of eleven NTOs use of web analytics for the measurement of localisation activities. When asked about KPIs for the measurement of localisation activities, the interviews mentioned (i) page views and user flow per country specific visitor; and (ii) SEO ranking.
The decisions related to translation and localisation must be guided by a deep understanding of the different types of content. Depending on the required volume and quality, the adaptation of online content registers important variations in price and time required. Hence, the appropriate method has to be carefully chosen by tourism-related businesses not to compromise the quality of the output, and avoid spending too many resources on it . Since localisation is a costly investment, experts suggest to measure its ROI in terms of translation savings and efficiency gains (ETOA, 2016, p. 11), which can be achieved (for example) by using translation memory and machine translation (when applicable) in workflow.
Source: European Travel Commission Report, 2016
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