What do you translate?

When I go out to networking events or when I talk about my work with friends and family, I find it hard to explain what I do. One of the reasons for this is that the content of my work changes on a weekly, if not daily, basis. One day I’ll be translating press releases, the next I’ll be doing a guidebook or content for a hotel’s website.

To give you an overview, here’s a selection of some of the work I’ve done over the past few months.

September 2016

stonesGerman to English translation of website content for a luxury spa hotel

travelGerman to English translation of hotel descriptions for a corporate event booking

August 2016

map-of-roadsGerman to English translation of a mini tourist guide on Helsinki

cutleryGerman to English translation of website texts for a consultancy company specialising in hospitality

earth-globeGerman to English translation of a group of press releases evaluating the results of an international comparison of OECD countries

billboardGerman to English translation of an analysis of several campaigns undertaken by a German advertising agency

July 2016

usbGerman to English translation of a compilation of press releases written in 2015 for a cable manufacturer

newspaperGerman to English translation of a newspaper article about an American actor that appeared in a weekly German newspaper

job-transitionGerman to English translation of a transcript for a video made by a national postal company on the results of their employee satisfaction survey

June 2016

dictionary-book-with-letters-a-to-zGerman to English translation of an A-Z of useful information for a hotel

consulting-messageGerman to English translation of a letter from the owners of a hotel asking guests for feedback and online reviews

travel-1German to English translation of a blog post by a national postal company on travel destinations and local culinary delights

 

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.

 

My insights into the ITB travel show: day 1

This is my first year of attending the ITB, the world’s largest tourism convention, in Berlin. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, despite having done plenty of research and reached out to many exhibitors prior to my arrival. Here are my insights into day one.

I arrived at 10am and decided to spend most of the day listening to presentations. The schedule for the day was fascinating and ranged from talks on how the refugee crisis affects tourism to what virtual reality has in store to the ins and outs of being a digital nomad. As talks took place simultaneously in various parts of the exhibition centre, it was sometimes quite difficult to choose which talk to attend, but I managed to pick a multitude of aspects relating to the tourism world.

I started off in the MICE Day talk on digital transformation. Before the speaker, Prof. Wolfgang Henseler, graced the stage, there was a short talk by Bernd Fritzges and a robot who entertained the audience with the Gangnam style dance – very entertaining. Prof. Henseler’s talk was less to do with travel and tourism and more to do with innovative technology in everyday life and how it changes the way we think. He focused in on Amazon’s latest innovations, including Echo, the Dash button and Dash Replenishment Services. The latter involves products, such as water filters, reordering themselves as required. I don’t know about you, but I find that idea a little creepy!

I then sat in one of the most interesting talks of the day: Old Europe, New Borders? Coming and Going, Travel & Staying at Home: Tourism & Refugees. The four speakers on this panel tackled issues relating to terrorism and refugees, i.e. the fact that people shouldn’t stop travelling to a destination where a terrorist attack has occurred. One speaker quite rightly pointed out that if we stop visiting countries affected by terrorism then their economy will suffer, so the locals are hit twice as hard. The notion of safety was also discussed: is anywhere in the world actually 100% safe?

The next talk I attended was by Microsoft on digital disruption. It made me wonder whether digital disruption is actually as negative as it sounds. The speaker gave me the impression that if companies keep up with the latest trends and be proactive, rather than reactive, then digital disruption becomes more of a way to promote innovation than a mechanism to destroy existing businesses.

After lunch (which consisted of a very expensive prawn cocktail), I sat in on a talk on pricing in the tourism industry. Did you know that a frequent flyer is more likely to be offered an expensive flight than somebody not on the airline’s loyalty programme? (At least according to the speaker, Dr Mark Friesen.) The gist of the talk boiled down to the fact that airlines and hotels know a lot more about us than you would think and there is a trend towards pricing flights/hotel stays individually based on a customer’s past behaviour and preferences rather than on current availability. So if you have a favourite airline and book directly with them every time, you may not actually be getting the best available price. Dr Friesen also discussed concerns, such as price fairness and the legal implications of this.

The last talk of the day for me, before I wondered around some of the stands (including the truck giving out free ice cream), was by two “digital nomads”, i.e. people who travel and work. One of them was Sarah Lorenz, whose blog I follow on my Translator Travels twitter account. It was a really interesting talk as I have been seriously considering incorporating travel into my business model and working abroad while travelling. It was great to get a realistic picture of what that would actually be like!

After this, I went for a stroll around the stands. I was a little bit reluctant to do this, as when I attended the WTM in November, it was quite clear that the exhibitors either a) had no idea about how translation is managed in their company and/or b) were there to attract business rather than acquire services, so trying to strike up conversation was painful at times. I did, however, manage to chat to a few people this time around without feeling like I was getting on their nerves or wasting their time. Hopefully that’s a sign of progress and the following days will be even better!

I am also going to be at the ITB tomorrow and Friday. Feel free to follow me on Twitter for live updates. If you’re going to the ITB and would like to set up a meeting, get in touch!

Read about day two here.

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.