sculpture-1091456_640The city of Philadelphia has been enjoying a lot of positive attention as a travel destination for visitors from around the world.  Last year Philadelphia placed third on the New York Times’ “big list” of travel destinations and the Lonely Planet named Philadelphia the top US destination for 2016. Fodor’s named Philadelphia a top international travel destination on their “Go List” of 2016, joining places around the globe such as Abu Dhabi, Sicily, Bavaria, and Taipei. Philly’s recent designation by UNESCO as our nation’s first World Heritage City certainly raised our profile, as did the Pope’s visit last fall.  With all this worldwide exposure, Philadelphia should expect more foreign tourists than ever before.

Research on international markets for American goods has long proved that “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy” is a rule of thumb. Even if buyers speak English as a second language, sellers who present product information in the local language have a marked advantage. For tourists visiting America from abroad, the same general principle applies. Hospitality is all about making visitors feel welcome, cared for, and comfortable. Translating and localizing key communications can make a huge difference.

Here are some localization strategies for boosting your profile with foreign tourists.

  • A foreign language website or microsite to serve your customers before they arrive. In countries like China, where outbound tourism is increasing, planning a trip no longer means booking a group tour with a set itinerary and a fixed price. Chinese tourists are beginning to plan their own trips and tour independently. The availability of online information has certainly accelerated this trend.
  • Mobile applications for self-guided tours. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has translated their exhibit app into a whopping 22 languages.  While this would be too ambitious for a smaller organization, we love the idea of accessibility for everyone. Making information available in several languages, either digitally or in print, will win fans among foreign visitors.
  • Cultural sensitivity training for front line employees. This can be particularly important for hotels and restaurants who are meeting customers’ basic needs. A core understanding of the communication pitfalls around cultural differences will decrease misunderstandings and increase customer satisfaction.

While it’s always been important to please your guests, mobile connections have transformed every tourist into either an ambassador or a critic. Documenting travel moments in social media has become the norm; sharing the experience in real time with others back home is now an essential part of traveling. Anything that can be done to enhance the experience and ensure a positive flow of commentary will help. Providing information in the traveler’s own language could make a difference between thumbs up and thumbs down.

For examples of how MTM LinguaSoft has helped clients identify and prioritize translation and localization needs, visit our Tourism and Hospitality portfolio.  Feel free to call us at 215-729-6765 with any questions you might have.

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