Tourism Translation

Tourism translation guide for hotels, B&Bs and campsites

Hotels, gites, B&Bs and campsites, it’s time to translate your website! This year, it’s decided, you are going to translate your website to attract more guests from abroad. But how? Where to start? We’ve prepared a guide on tourism translation to help you. Here’s our essential list of things to do…and not to do, when translating your hotel, gite, B&B or campsite website.

The tourism translation to do list

  • Identify the customers and countries you would like to target.
  • List the languages spoken in those countries.
  • Prioritise the translation of your website.
  • Prepare your website for translation (technically).
  • Define strategic key words for your target countries.
  • Work with a professional, human translator specialised in website translation.
  • Keep your website and the translated version up-to-date.

And the not to do list

  • Steer clear of quick, low quality translations offered on low-cost translation platforms. You know the expression, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys
  • Avoid the temptation of using automatic, machine translation.
  • Don’t ask a friend who studied a foreign language at university or your tourists to translate your website for you. Yes, I know it sounds obvious…but believe me, it’s not obvious for some! A professional translator only translates into their mother tongue.

Automatic or poorly written translations can damage your reputation and won’t help your website’s rankings in the search engines.

Tourism translation questions and answers:

1. How do I identify my target customer?

In tourism translation, and website translation in general, it is important to identify your target customer. The best way to identify your target customer is to conduct a Persona analysis (or in other words, create a fictive but realistic profile of your target customer(s)). For this analysis, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Where are your customers (or future customers) from and how they travel. Do they already live in the destination country? If not, where do or will they come from? Will they travel by plane, by train, by car or by bike? Or perhaps they have a camper-van?
  2. What languages do they speak? Think about their first and possible second languages.
  3. What kind of person/family are they ? Are they single? A married/unmarried couple? A family with young children / teenagers? Do they have pets? Are they elderly?
  4. What is their financial situation? Are your customers looking for luxury services or budget holidays?
  5. What is their job title ? Student? Events coordinator?
  6. What are their principles? Ecology? Quality services?
  7. What are their particular needs and wants that will make them want to book? Eg. Disabled access, pool, spa, concierge services, catering, outstanding rooms, calm, proximity to tourist sites etc.

These elements will help the translator find the right tone of voice and style of address for your customers when translating your website. Like when your guests come to stay, when translating a hospitality website, it is important to put your guests first.

2. What languages should I add to my website?

Translate your website into the languages that are the most spoken by your customers/potential customers.

3. Do I need to translate my entire website?

Ideally, yes. But in reality if you don’t want your translation budget to skyrocket, we advise you to prioritise. When translating a website, quality is better than quantity.

  • Begin by translating the menus and the main pages of your website in the language that is spoken by the majority of your guests. Then, use your analytics (eg Google Analytics) to see which articles bring you the most traffic and engagement. Then ask yourself whether this article would interest your foreign guests. This will help you to prioritise and justify the translation of your articles.
  • Remember to translate practical information as well as any events or news updates, not forgetting of course your booking page. It is also worth highlighting if you offer free cancellations.
  • Don’t forget to translate the meta-descriptions, image descriptions and to subtitle your videos.

4. How to build a multilingual website with WordPress?

To make a multilingual website with WordPress, you need to prepare your website for translation on a technical level. There are several plugins for this. A couple of the most popular are called WPML or Polylang.

  • WPML is the most popular plugin for multilingual websites. It is a great plugin and has all the functions you could possibly require to translate your website. The only downside to this plugin is that you have to pay for it. They don’t offer a free trial version and it can take a little while to get your head around at the beginning.
  • Then you have it’s main competitor, Polylang. This plugin is simple to use and there is a free and a paid version according to your needs. For most multilingual websites, the free version is sufficient. For info, we chose Polylang for the translation of moc-digital.com.

5. Be sure to include keywords

It is also important to use the right keywords for tourism translations. By keyword, we are refering to the word or phrase that your visitors write into the search engines (or ask Alexa), to find your website or information about your services and things to do in the area.

In order to target the right keywords, it is therefore recommended that you conduct a keyword analysis for each market you are targeting to find the search terms that are the most commonly used by your users.

You don’t technically translate keywords, although the original keywords can provide a basis for your new keyword research. The aim is to identify the keywords that will bring the most traffic and visibility to your website in the target country. An international SEO agency can help you with this.

6. Can machine translation replace human translation?

Despite huge progress in machine translation, machines are still a long way from being able to replace humans. Machine translation can offer a number of advantages; a machine is capable of translating a simple phrase and can be great for getting the gist of a text written in another language. However, their main advantage is that they are cheaper (some are free) and offer instant results. It is not surprising that many companies are tempted by machine translation for their websites.

However, machine translation has its limits, especially in the professional world. Automatic machine translations offer a litteral, out-of-context translation that are not always accurate and can leave readers lost in translation. Machines do not understand cultural references, idioms or emotions – essential elements if you want to connect with your customers.

The translation of your website needs to be done by a real human being.

7. Remember to keep your translations up-to-date.

Like the creation of your website, the translation of your website is never finished. Your readers will appreciate information that is accurate and up-to-date. When preparing to go on holiday, our first reflex is to look at holidays online. You don’t want your guests to be disappointed by inaccurate information on your website (eg. a pool closure, increased prices…). Also, Google likes to be fed new content. Any additional information added to your website is not only great for your guests but it can also help your rankings.

Some other tourism translation advice:

  • Keep in mind the needs and interests of guests coming from other countries. Writing targeted articles can also be a great idea, both for international tourists and your international content marketing strategy.
  • Be unique and stand out from the competition. The first thing tourists do is compare offers online. Don’t become just another campsite, hotel or b&b, instead, tell the world what sets you apart.
  • And for our last word of advice, don’t forget to promote your content!

Need some help or advice with a tourism translation?

We are specialised in helping French hospitality websites attract British/international guests.

  • International content marketing strategy.
  • French to English website translation – Essential for all French businesses looking to attract international guests.
  • Targeted copywriting of blog articles.
  • Keyword research and SEO Optimisation services.

Working with us, you will also benefit from our knowledge of the tourist sector. Do you have a website that you would like to translate into English? Let’s discuss your project.

Leave a comment