Breaking Down the Language Barrier with Hospitality Translation

The language barrier is alive and well, which can be a significant problem in the hospitality industry. As a marketer, you want guests to feel right at home when they visit the hotel or attraction you are advertising.

For example, imagine a foreign tour group visits an attraction but finds there are no brochures or maps available in their language. This translates to a poorer experience for visitors, so it would be no surprise if they didn’t stick around.

Home Away from Home

When people travel, they often look to find a home away from home. The language barrier gets in the way of that. This is why travel establishments should invest in hospitality translation. The more comfortable guests feel, the longer they will stick around and the more inclined they will be to spend money in your establishment.

So, what should you translate? The symbols for elevators, restaurants, bathrooms, and exits are internationally recognized, but if you’re using words as well, you’ll need to translate them. Even more important is translating maps, guides, tour itineraries, and brochures, as well as any agreements (such as disclaimers about liabilities) into the languages your guests speak, so they can understand exactly what’s happening. Translating menus into other languages helps to create a welcoming atmosphere, too.

One hotel that has succeeded in creating a home away from home is a Detroit-based Sheraton hotel that reworked its offerings to cater to the many Japanese guests who visited the car companies in the area. After studying Japanese culture, the hotel now offers everything Japanese guests would expect from a hotel, such as a Japanese newspaper and a traditional breakfast. In Boston, many hotels are catering to foreign visitors by adjusting their menus, meal times, and packages to be more culturally appropriate.

Website Translation

You must also direct your attention toward your website, since guests will check it before, during, and after their stay. A multilingual or localized website lets people access services in their own language and recreates the feeling of being at home. Plus, you’ll cut down on complaints from people struggling to access services because of a language barrier. Hospitality translation is not just nice to have, but rather an integral part of providing a great service to your customers.

Make sure your translator doesn’t just translate words, but can also include appropriate cultural references and the nuances that will give international visitors that welcoming feeling. Known as transcreation, this is a great way to break down the language barrier.

Translation benefits the hospitality industry because it keeps people interested in what you have to offer. Use technology to translate your material into multiple languages very quickly – frankly, it’s the best way to reach your global audience.

Selecting the Best Translation Options for Your Business


About Sharon Hurley Hall

Self-confessed word nerd Sharon Hurley Hall has the perfect job - as a professional writer and blogger. In the last couple of decades she has worked as a journalist, a college professor (teaching journalism, of course), an editor and a ghostwriter. She finds language fascinating and, in addition to English, speaks French, Spanish and a smattering of German.