My insights into the ITB travel show: day 2

Read about day one here.

My second day at the ITB started with a presentation on the all-singing, all-dancing (literally) Mario, a humanoid robot who works in the Marriott Hotel in Ghent. The charming automaton works on the welcome desk greeting guests in 19 languages and handing out key cards. He also gives PowerPoint presentations in meetings, talks at events and chats to guests at the buffet. Worried about him replacing human staff? Don’t be. His popularity has increased bookings in the hotel, apparently leading to more employees being hired!

There were a lot of interesting talks in the wellness auditorium today, including a talk by an exclusive, luxury resort by the sea in northern Germany. The speaker was convinced that it’s possible to create unique wellness experiences in Germany that are just as good as those in Mexico or Dubai, and from the video she showed us, it seems she’s right. She stressed that every hotel should do its best to incorporate nature into its business model and do something with it.

Next up was a talk on wellness trends with a PowerPoint full of facts and percentages. Here I learned that more than 70% of hoteliers are planning investments in 2016 and just under 60% of guests would prefer to book an adult-only hotel. The speaker, Wibke Metzger, also made it clear that people want to use their time effectively, which makes life go faster. As a result, people work too much and don’t take enough time out (something I definitely recognised in myself!).

In the afternoon I attended a talk on digital natives, which highlighted the work trends among millennials. Connectivity, sharing and flexibility seemed to be the overarching trends woven through this talk. According to the speaker, people want flexible workplaces, e.g. coworking spaces, and the ability to choose when to work and when to take time off. Workations (working + vacation) are apparently going to be a trend of the future, which I found pretty interesting as I’m planning to take my laptop to Malta and work from there in May.

After this, I attended a networking event organised by the Adventure Travel Trade Association. I got the chance to meet and chat to a range of very interesting people, something that I had thus far struggled to do (even at lunch, people preferred to sit on their phones and read magazines around me yesterday and today every empty seat I found was apparently taken by an invisible person). Unfortunately I didn’t win one of the many prizes the association had to give away. Maybe next time!

Tomorrow is my last day at the ITB. Stay tuned for the last update!

Read about day three here.

 

The benefits of hiring a translator to translate your travel or tourism text

The Internet is peppered with statistics on the boom in tourism in recent years. For example, UNWTO has stated that worldwide destinations received 21 million more tourists between January and June 2015 in comparison with the same period of 2014 with Germany being the second most popular European travel destination after Spain. This means increasing numbers of people from all over the world using tourism services in every corner of the Earth. Needless to say, this scenario requires multi-lingual communication and what better way to speak to people than in their own language!

This is where translation comes in. As a translator myself, I sometimes find that translation by a qualified translator is omitted from the budgets of internationally focused companies. This may be because they didn’t consider it in the first place or they don’t value the difference in quality between a translation produced by a professional or by an amateur (or even a machine). So why should you hire a professional when there are so many other options out there? This article will discuss a few of the benefits.

First and foremost, your translator will have extensive knowledge of all of their mastered languages and the countries’ cultures. As is often the case with tourism, cultural elements will crop up in texts that may be unknown to your target audience. Translators will know precisely how to word the new text to incorporate this unknown entity seamlessly into the translation. Let’s take the term Feuerzangenbowle, a Christmas tradition that can be seen at German Christmas markets, as an example. It refers to an alcoholic beverage made by placing an alcohol-soaked sugarloaf onto a bowl of mulled wine and setting said sugarloaf alight so that it melts and mixes into the drink. But how do you translate this for an audience who are unfamiliar with the term, particularly if the writer refers to this concept in passing and it’s not the major focus of the text? Amateurs may not know how to deal with these instances of unfamiliarity. So one of the benefits of hiring a translator is that the qualified translator can add value by helping the reader to understand the foreign concept.

The next argument I would like to put forward is that you are entrusting the person who writes your foreign-language content with your brand. If this person does not have the appropriate language skill level or knowledge of the topic that they are translating, the resulting document could be poorly written or even misleading. This is sure to have a negative impact on your company’s image. Not only is it worth hiring a professional with experience, it is also worth giving them information about your company, what you represent, how you market yourself and what you hope to accomplish with your text. This way, your brand will be correctly represented to your potential foreign customers.

I should also mention that well-known machine called Google Translate. I have to admit, it could come in handy when travelling in a far-flung country where you don’t speak the local language and they don’t speak yours. However, when it comes to translating your written content, how will you assess the quality of the text if you do not speak the language in which your translated content is being generated? How can you be sure that it is representing your brand well and creating a desirable image of your company? Working with a human translator means that you can contact them to ask questions about the translated text and make adjustments if needed. You cannot ask a machine why it translated X as Y. Of course you can tweak and edit a machine-translated text, but will the text be as good as a text translated by a professional translator from scratch? Personally, I don’t think it would. The benefits of hiring a professional here are diverse: quality, communication and collaboration are just three of the advantages of working with translators.

It was also recently revealed that Google deems content translated by Google Translate to be “automatically generated” content, which bumps it down in the list of search rankings. Google’s SEO rules prioritise original content with the right keywords to ensure that their rankings are relevant. According to Brightlines, the e-tourism sector in France loses €120 million every year as a result of this. On request, translators can do keyword research to ensure that your writing is ranked as high as possible on Google. In other words, automatically generated material is not acceptable for clients publishing content on the Web. Investing in translation should certainly be appealing if you publish online content.

My final argument is this: even if you are highly skilled in your non-native language, translating perfectly worded written material will take you a long time. Especially if you plan to craft it so that it doesn’t read like a translation. This time could be better spent elsewhere in your business, while you leave translation to the trained professionals. In any business, it is worth outsourcing extra tasks, e.g. translation (and in my case: accounting, marketing), to professionals, as any fan of the SWOT analysis will tell you.

So why should you hire a qualified translator to translate your tourism text? Because they will craft the text into a beautifully worded piece, taking into consideration any cultural aspects unknown to the target readers. They will put in a great deal of research, even for the simplest of texts. They will make the translated text flow so that you are unable to tell that it is a translation. If any (or some, or all) of these factors are important to you, I urge you to hire a professional translator to render your texts in your chosen foreign languages.