Personalizing the Guest Experience
In the service-driven hospitality industry, consistently delivering a personalized message is the foundation for building an impactful guest experience. This goes beyond delivering content in the guest’s native language; it’s about integrating regional preferences and curating a memorable digital experience that gives companies a critical advantage.
For InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), this is easier said than done. With more than 5,600 hotels across a portfolio of more than 15 brands, the company does business in 16 languages across more than 100 countries.
In 2013, IHG began a partnership with SaaS translation solution provider Smartling to translate its hotel websites and campaign messaging into multiple languages. IHG also began to use Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) as its content management system for its hotel properties. This approach empowered IHG to improve the functionality of its direct channels and outpace other companies in terms of creating a consistent experience for guests and supporting and attracting new owners.
Still, Chris Hamilton, IHG’s Director of Digital Experience for Marketing Channels & Applications, and IHG’s partners at Smartling and Adobe saw opportunities to combine the benefits of these tools and expand them into other parts of IHG’s business.
“After realizing initial success, we began to envision what the applications of these technologies would bear at scale,” says Kate Fitzgerald, Smartling’s Director of Account Management and IHG’s Account Manager. “The ability to centralize and operationalize translation across the enterprise would be a game changer for IHG. With so much potential, the next question was ‘where do you want to start?’”
Scaling Translation Across the Business
IHG expanded its agile translation process outside of its digital channels and into other areas of the business by integrating in a variety of ways to Smartling’s Translation Cloud — an enterprise translation management system. With this integration, IHG created a true end-to-end process for tracking and optimizing how it produces and delivers translated content across the guest journey. IHG is now equipped to effectively operationalize translation for key regional stakeholders and to extend its language coverage to improve its customer journey.
This language coverage now goes beyond marketing to IHG Green Engage (the company’s environmental sustainability program), IHG Academy (community education), and IHG Business Edge (SME travel services programs).
Hamilton says, “It’s not just about offering languages that are important to our guests, but languages that are important to owners and investors, where using their native language is critical for our mutual success. The ability to do that in a very short time is a competitive advantage for us.”
Driving Greater Efficiencies and Cost Savings
Smartling’s integration with AEM helped IHG gain more visibility into its translation process, increase the quality of localized content, and realize operational efficiencies that led to cost savings.
With AEM and the Smartling platform, IHG uses AEM to create content in English and to centrally manage the other 16 languages it supports. Both platforms allow IHG to streamline managing translated content by moving the process out of email between translators and validators. AEM content creators are able to remain in AEM while linguists translate content within Smartling’s WYSIWYG editor, improving translation quality by 33 percent.
“One of Smartling’s unique capabilities,” Hamilton says, “is its ability to provide IHG with objective data to improve its workflow.” For example, IHG used analytics accessible from Smartling’s workflow reporting to discover that internal resources tasked with reviewing translations weren’t making as many corrections as the company perceived — they only did so to fewer than 4 percent of all content. This discovery allowed IHG to establish automated publishing features and eliminate the internal review step, resulting in reaching international customers more quickly than ever before.
“Before, it took us roughly six to eight months to launch a new language,” Hamilton says. “Now, we actually measure that in about a month.”
Another major efficiency was capitalizing on similar content that lives across IHG’s enterprise. By centralizing content, IHG can ensure the company doesn’t pay to re-translate a banner ad that also appears on a landing page or a campaign email, for example. As teams across IHG avoid this duplication, they can now generate significant savings and save time on translation management, while also maintaining brand tone and voice across devices and platforms.
“Enterprise-wide insights and data-driven decisions are transforming how IHG does business, says Aisling Nolan, Smartling’s Team Lead for Customer Success. “IHG is disrupting conventional wisdom, being more strategic with their translation options, and rethinking how they spend their time and money.”
This approach is paying off for IHG. The company has reduced its translation investment by millions of dollars. Hamilton attributes this to IHG’s ability to take a more data-driven approach to crafting powerful guest journeys.
“Even as we’ve significantly expanded our brand portfolio over the last 12 months, the costs to deliver a new language have not gone up,” he says. “The Smartling connector makes our translation process more efficient from beginning to end,” Hamilton adds. “We’re saving time every step of the way — from the Smartling dashboard through to content management in AEM.”
IHG ® (InterContinental Hotels Group) [LON:IHG, NYSE:IHG (ADRs)] is a global organization with a broad portfolio of hotel brands, including Regent Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts, Kimpton® Hotels & Restaurants, Hotel Indigo®, EVEN® Hotels, HUALUXE® Hotels and Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts, vocoTM Hotels, Holiday Inn®, Holiday Inn Express®, Holiday Inn Club Vacations®, Holiday Inn Resort®, avidTM hotels, Staybridge Suites® and Candlewood Suites®. IHG franchises, leases, manages or owns more than 5,600 hotels and approximately 837,000 guest rooms in more than 100 countries, with more than 1,900 hotels in its development pipeline. IHG also manages IHG® Rewards Club, our global loyalty program, which has more than 100 million enrolled members. In February 2019, IHG acquired Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, adding 16 hotels (1,347 rooms) to its system and 18 hotels to its development pipeline. InterContinental Hotels Group PLC is the Group’s holding company and is incorporated in Great Britain and registered in England and Wales. More than 400,000 people work across IHG’s hotels and corporate offices globally.
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