The growing language gap between travel and tourism websites

The travel industry has long been at the forefront of web globalization. Take Booking.com, with support for 41 languages, or Uber, with support for 36 languages, or KLM, with support for 32 languages.
And yet, if you wish to research destinations online, tourism websites are not nearly so globally friendly. While the leading travel websites support an average of 30 languages, the top 10 tourism websites support an average of just 12 languages.
Germany, the destination website that emerged number one overall, leads the category with support for 24 languages. But most other destination websites support far fewer, even many of the sites in the top ten list.

The Top 10 Global Tourism Websites

  1. Germany
  2. France
  3. Spain
  4. Paris
  5. Scotland
  6. Sydney
  7. Dubai
  8. Holland
  9. Singapore
  10. Western Australia

Language is the most evident sign of a localized website, but it is just one area in which tourism websites need improvement. The  new report Destination: Marketing carefully documents the many different types of navigation strategies used by tourism websites and provides best practices that all websites should adopt. It also takes a close look at localized content, social media, and support for mobile users (also a weak point).

I understand that the organizations that manage destination websites are not exactly flush with cash these days. Brand USA is fighting for its budget as I write this. Yet this is precisely the time to make the case for the value of multilingual destination websites.
Consider this: The travel and tourism industry is growing at a faster pace than the global economy and by 2017 is projected to account for 1 of 9 jobs on this planet. Tourism websites play an essential role in attracting travelers and more than half of these travelers do not speak English. The countries, regions and cities that do invest in a multilingual future are going to be best positioned to benefit from it.
To learn more about the report, click here.

More than half of the leading global websites support Thai

Excerpted from the <a href="http://bytelevel.com/map/IDN.html">Internationalized Domain Names</a> poster
Excerpted from the Internationalized Domain Names poster

Following up on my previous post, I was asked just how prevalent Thai is on the leading global brands.

According to the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card, Thai is now seen on 54% of the websites studied.

thai_websites

Among the websites that support Thai are:

  • Air France
  • Airbnb
  • Coca-Cola
  • Dyson
  • Emirates
  • Expedia
  • Ford
  • Hertz
  • Hilton
  • Honeywell
  • IKEA
  • John Deere
  • Kayak
  • Lenovo
  • Lexus
  • MUJI
  • PayPal
  • Twitter
  • Uber
  • UNIQLO
  • Visa

Not all of these websites have “gone dark” in mourning, such as Dyson:

dyson_thai

Contrast that with HP:

hp_thai

For more information on best practices in web localization, check out the 2016 Report Card

 

Web localization is a black and white issue

The death of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej has led to stores running out of black and white clothing as the population mourns its leader in color-appropriate clothing.

What does this mean for website localization?

Consider the Thailand home pages for Apple:

apple_thai

Samsung:

samsung_thai

Microsoft:

microsoft_thai

McDonald’s:

mcdonalds_thai

Starbucks:

starbucks_thai

And Coca-Cola has gone black on its social feeds:

coke_social_thai

Web localization isn’t about creating a localized website and forgetting about it.

It’s about creating a living and breathing website that responds quickly to local events. Web localization is about respect.

To learn more about the leaders in web localization, check out the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card.