What the Best Online Travel Companies Do Better than Hotels

According to Tnooz, people are showing an increased tendency to book accommodations from online ticketing agencies (OTAs) rather than directly from hotels. The article goes into many valid reasons about why travelers are all too eager to buy from the best online travel companies and we’d like to add here our own: translation!


Because seven of the top ten OTAs in 2013 (by the amount of money they spend on paid search) offer multilingual sites to their international audiences. These global travel sites include:

Booking.com, expedia.com, tripadvisor.com, kayak.com, cheapoair.com, travelzoo.com, and hotels.com.

How is Translation Helping Online Travel Companies?

  • Information in the local language pushes the website visitor to make the ultimate decision to buy. It’s a statistic we cite pretty much everyday at Smartling: the majority of website visitors prefer information in their own language. This preference gets stronger the moment the consumer decides to buy. When there are a zillion travel sites out there, offering local language options can be also a great differentiator to work in your favor. Additionally, in-language, transcreated content is stickier, gets the visitor to linger longer, and builds loyalty with the brand.
  • User-generated information is the OTA advantage. An online travel company can usually pull far more visitors than a hotel. These visitors don’t just transact on these sites, but form communities and forums where they discuss everything related to destinations, hotel choices, activities and more. This is great content capital that OTAs are sitting on: about 55% of online shoppers recently said that customer reviews are important in helping them make the buying decision. So when you make your site available in the local language and offer these in-language discussion spaces, you’re encouraging a free flow of information amongst your users.

But Translation Alone Is Not Enough

Companies who are serious about website localization shouldn’t simply translate website content. In the travel domain, a few more elements are required for the complete, localized experience:

  • An understanding of the local travel market. For instance, travel sites must be knowledgeable about local spending and holiday trends and position their offers accordingly. An understanding of the local culture for effective marketing, of course, goes without saying.
  • Convenient payment gateways. Localization doesn’t stop at the content level. In fact, it becomes pretty important at the payment gateway stage. Are you offering your users the payment methods they’re used to and hence feel more secure in? For instance, do you offer UnionPay to Chinese tourists? The sheer number of Chinese tourists going abroad warrants the use of every little website accessory that they’re used to.
  • Local language customer care. If you can offer it, awesome. Otherwise, you need to make it clear on the site what languages your customer care executives can speak.

We know that all marketing is going local and personal. And, you can’t get there without language. Translation is especially important for travel marketers – it’s a domain where international and multilingual audiences are the norm and not the exception.