How Agile Translation Helps IHG Stay Ahead [Case Study]

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) turned heads across the industry with its 2012 debut of HUALUXE®, the first international hotel brand designed specifically to the tastes of Chinese travelers. Built on more than 30 years of market research, these unique properties provide guests with everything from pastoral public meeting spaces to premium private tea sets.

Given this painstaking commitment to personalization, it should come as no surprise that IHG wants to greet guests in their preferred language from their very first brand interaction. The hotel chain currently publishes content in more than a dozen languages across its mobile app, online booking platform, and 5,000+ localized hotel websites.

With another 1,300 hotels in its development pipeline, though, IHG suspected its existing content translation process would soon be unsustainable.

Losing Localization Momentum

Technology has been a competitive advantage for IHG as far back as 1965, when it introduced the world’s first computerized hotel booking system. Today that tradition continues with an agile development strategy that keeps the brand’s customer experience on the cutting edge.

“We believe that investing in technology systems assists us in building brand preference and strengthens our loyalty programs,” explained Chad Westfall, VP of Global Direct Channels at IHG. “When we critically evaluated the Guest Journey, we realized that our lack of a technology system for managing translation was hindering our growth in global markets.”

Deadlines for website releases were being missed by months, developers were being called away from separate innovation projects, and the seams were starting to show within the team’s international collaboration strategy.  

Upgrading to Agile Translation

IHG - InterContinental Hotels GroupIHG began its search for superior translation management software with a strict set of criteria in mind. First and foremost, a suitable solution would have to play well with the hotel’s complex technology stack. Seamlessly coordinating multiple content management systems and supporting various file formats would be instrumental in delivering a first-class user experience.

The translation technology also needed to spark smarter workflows. IHG’s localization strategy is supported by a team of thousands working on dozens of distinct project types. Requiring each collaborator to conform to the exact same publishing and quality control procedures was not only creating a cumbersome managerial burden, but contributing to production errors as well.

IHG was determined to correct course and implement tools that aligned with the philosophies driving success in other corners of the company. Executives wanted agility, flexibility, and the visibility to confirm exactly where each was lacking. And in the end, there was only one partner capable of providing the solution.

Smartling facilitates collaboration on a global scale, enabling us to quickly create the most local content possible,” said Westfall. “Furthermore, developer involvement in translation has been reduced to almost zero, allowing our global technology team to continue to enhance the functionality and performance of our direct channels to make these the preferred way to book.”