Hilton Worldwide and HotelTonight Share Localization Success Secrets

With a total economic impact of nearly $7 trillion, travel and hospitality is one of the largest industries in the world. Because there is so much money at stake, competition for both consumer mindshare and dollars is steep. That’s why trust and loyalty programs are so important to brands in the industry.

Considering the global nature of travel and hospitality, it can be difficult at times for brands to create messages and offers that resonate in all the markets they do business. In a recent webinar hosted by EyeforTravel and Smartling, Juan M. Cárdenas, Director, Localization at Hilton Worldwide, and Bryan Lopuck, Localization Project Manager at HotelTonight, discussed how technology can help ambitious brands create loyalty and drive revenues around the globe.

Below are four key takeaways from the conversation:

Define priorities

How do you know how many countries or languages your brand should localize content for? To reach nearly 89 percent of the world’s travelers, you need to be online in at least 12 languages. But is that enough to stay competitive, and will the revenues generated justify the cost of translation? These are tough questions, with uncertain answers. But, we know that having an English-only mindset will turn off many of your potential non-English speaking customers, so take the time to research the markets that are most important for your brand and develop content specific to those regions.

Translation, localization, or transcreation

Once you decide what languages you’re going to go to market with, you need to decide how personalized those messages need to be. A majority of your content assets will at the very least need to be tweaked so they make sense and resonate in other languages, while some of your messages will need to be changed almost entirely, if not developed by in-country content creators and marketers.

For example, a description on the HotelTonight app for US travelers in Germany might say “Chill out in the lobby and enjoy a nice cold German beer on tap.” While that same message to German tourists might call out a German beer specific to that region – i.e. Kölsch in Cologne. The advice Lopuck gives to his team is if you have to spend more than three minutes trying to adapt content between languages, just write something new. Otherwise,translated content is unlikely to resonate the way the original content creator had hoped, or the way non-English readers would like.

Maintain brand consistency

What sets HotelTonight apart from similar apps is its quirky brand voice that Lopuck says fits the goal of their content: to make the user smile and want to book a room. Being able to maintain a consistent brand voice – quirky or formal – can be difficult as you scale up to more and more languages. But many of those headaches can be mitigated by implementing a translation management system that includes translation memory as well as a style guide and glossary.

Translation memory allows a brand to maintain its chosen voice by leveraging previous translations, ensuring linguistic consistency, even if different translators work on subsequent projects. Additionally, utilizing a style guide and glossary with market-specific notes will make sure key terms and phrases are used correctly across all of your markets.

Centralized processes, decentralized implementation

According to Cárdenas, having a centralized process and decentralized implementation has been key to the success of the Hilton Worldwide localization team. The central office governs the technology, manages vendors, defines workflows, is responsible for measuring and reporting KPIs, and updates Hilton Worldwide’s style guide and glossary.

Because it would be virtually impossible for the central office to manage the entire localization process for a brand as large as Hilton Worldwide, the company opts for decentralized implementation. The team therefore relies on the input of local marketers who work directly with the central team to ensure in-language brand, style, and glossary guidelines are applied consistently and appropriately.

Learn more

To learn more from Cárdenas and Lopuck, watch our webinar: Powering Loyalty Anywhere and Revenue Everywhere… with Technology. The webinar discusses how HotelTonight and Hilton Worldwide successfully provide the personalized experiences that inspire loyalty in the millions, and how technology is essential in order to reach a multilingual global audience more efficiently and effectively.