Google’s WebGL platform, specifically designed to allow for statistical information to be presented over large geographical areas, has given us a wonderful visual representation of the untapped opportunity called Multilingual Marketing!
Google runs a multilingual test - wonderfully illustrating that we are all selling to a very, very multilingual online world
“Multilingual” and even “multicultural” makes sense to everyone. A discussion on Spaniards’ and Germans’ online behaviour compared to our own makes for a fascinating conversation point. And the need for an international presence for a hotel – that is a natural recipient of travellers from abroad – makes sense to even the most sceptical business owner. However, actually marketing to an international audience is not at all easy… and usually, your marketing agency can’t quite do it all either…
Before going any further, I would suggest that you simply click here and have look for yourself. What you are looking at is “Google’s data on search volume by language”.
Given that you are reading at this entry in English, I would like to invite you to look first at the wonderful spread of the light blue colour over the US and the UK.. and then look at all the other colours in Europe and all over the world… Stunning isn’t it?
I believe that this virtually colourful world, however complex it may seem, is actually a representation of a stunning opportunity. An opportunity that comes from simple, basic consumer needs, and the fact that most of your competitors haven’t tapped it yet!
When consumers make a hotel reservation – and if you have ever booked abroad, you know this from your own efforts – they like ease. They like to be able to understand what they are booking. More than ever, they feel uncertain, and they are exactly ready to relay on “experts”. And this is where the online travel agencies step in.
Unsurprising the larger agencies around the world have a singular focus on the multilingual services they offer. Expedia and LastMinute come in some very strong German, French, Spanish and Italian flavours (at least), whilst the likes of Bookings.com (part of Priceline) have gone down an even more intelligent route… allowing smaller local agencies to use their engines to power their online presence. And at the same time most hotels are happy to accept and rewards this business because the foreign markets are markets hotels felt they couldn’t reach otherwise.
If you run a search for a hotel room from within England for London, and then you run the same search from Holland, you will get some different results even if you have searched for exactly the corresponding keywords. Your IP address (giving away your location), the search terms, the language at which you have set your keyboard and the fact that you are probably looking at google.nl rather than google.co.uk, all play a very significant part in the process. If you now do your search using a non-latin character set (say Arabic, Russian or Japanese), that is when the real OTA party begins. To verify this, I searched for a hotel in London from Greece, using Greek (of course, as it is the only other language I can speak at a respectable level I am afraid). Google.gr’s results returned only agencies in all the organic listings (most of which were Greek but using Bookings or Expedia engines to gain and display inventory and rates).
I believe that the single most important factor for being seen in searches from international destinations (and consequently be understood, which is an obvious prerequisite to being booked) is to have not just a translated page of your website, but a page that is optimised to match what the consumers are searching for. And I believe that BABEL is by far the most appropriate solution to attract international travellers directly to a hotel’s own website – no matter what the language. And in most cases, this can be done for FREE!
For more information on BABEL Multilingual, or if you have any questions or comments, please contact us here.