Booking.com: The best global travel website of 2017

For the 2017 Web Globalization Report Card, we studied the following 24 travel websites:

  • Air France
  • Airbnb
  • American Airlines
  • Avis
  • Booking.com
  • British Airways
  • Delta
  • Emirates
  • Enterprise
  • Expedia
  • Four Seasons
  • Hertz
  • Hilton
  • Hotels.com
  • Hyatt
  • InterContinental Hotels
  • Kayak
  • KLM
  • Marriott
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Sixt
  • TripAdvisor
  • Uber
  • United Airlines

This is the third year that we’ve combined web-based travel services companies with the travel companies they represent. And while OTAs (online travel agencies) have long dominated this category, we’re seeing airlines and hotels become much more competitive in the fight for customer relationships, and not just in developed markets.

Booking.com emerging number one overall. It leads all other websites with support for 41 languages and  leverages global templates across all local websites. The mobile website is also lighter (in kilobytes) than most competitive websites giving Booking.com a potential performance advantage. Following close behind in score is Hotels.com.

The travel industry is by definition a global industry. When your customer may be located anywhere in the world and traveling to any other place in the world, you need to support not only a significant number of languages but also currencies, time zones, and mobile devices. A number of the companies in this sector have been aggressive in using geolocation and content negotiation to greet visitors with the right language, region and currency. But they also provide a great deal of flexibility. For instance, Booking.com and Hotels.com allow you to change your currency using what I call the currency gateway:

But Booking.com is far from perfect. It buries its global gateway on its mobile website, which is not ideal for visitors who need to quickly change settings. Instead, I recommend including the global gateway link in the header, as shown here with Emirates:

I recommend a more generic globe icon than the one used by Emirates, but this is far better than most other mobile travel websites.

American Airlines does not use a globe icon, but does at least make its global gateway available in the header, as shown here:

I do not recommend using flags for navigational purposes and many travel websites continue to use them today. Flags do not scale well and flags convey meaning that often goes far beyond mere navigation — a reason why a number of websites intentionally leave the Taiwan flag off of the global gateway, even though it includes all others.

A number of companies have been quite busy expanding their linguistic reach; websites that added languages over the past year include:

  • Emirates
  • Hertz
  • Hilton
  • Kayak
  • KLM
  • Uber

KLM, by the way, leads all airlines with support for 28 languages. And Hilton leads all hotels with support for 23 languages (though if you include Airbnb as a hotel brand, it emerges on top).

Websites that scored on the negative end of this list include Four Seasons, Enterprise and Avis.

To learn more, check out the Web Globalization Report CardTravel and travel services is the largest sector covered by the Report Card, a section more than 50 pages long.

The top 25 global websites from the 2017 Web Globalization Report Card

I’m excited to announce the publication of The 2017 Web Globalization Report Card. This is the most ambitious report I’ve written so far and it sheds light on a number of new and established best practices in website globalization.

Here are the top-scoring websites from the report:

For regular readers of this blog, you’ll notice that Google is yet again ranked number one. But Google isn’t resting on its laurels. While many software companies are happy to support 20 or 30 languages on their websites, Google continues to add languages across its many products. Consider Gmail, with support for 72 languages and YouTube, with 75 languages. And let’s not overlook Google Translate, now at 100+ languages.

Google could still stand to improve in global navigation, though I am seeing positive signs of harmonization across its many product silos. But I do maintain the recommendation that Google present a more traditional global gateway to visitors across its sites and apps.

Other highlights from the top 25 list include:

  • Consumer goods companies such as Pampers and Nestlé are a positive sign that non-tech companies are making positive strides in improving their website globalization skills.
  • IKEA returned to the list this year after making a welcome change to its global gateway strategy.
  • Nissan made the top 25 list for the first time. BMW slipped off the list.
  • As a group, the top 25 websites support an average of 54 languages (up from 52 last year); if we removed Wikipedia from the language counts the average would still be an impressive 44 languages.
  • GoDaddy, a new addition to the Report Card, wasted little time in making this list. Its global gateway is worth studying.
  • Luxury brands such as Gucci and Ralph Lauren continue to lag in web globalization — from poor support for languages to inadequate localization.
  • The average number of languages supported by all 150 global brands is now 31.

But as you can see here, the rate of language growth, on average, is slowing. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Companies are telling me that they are investing more on depth and quality of localization — which is of huge importance.

The data underlying the Report Card is based on studying the leading global brands and world’s largest companies — 150 companies across more than 20 industry sectors. I began tracking many of the companies included in this report more than a decade ago and am happy to share insights into what works and what doesn’t. Time is often the greatest indicator of best practices.

I’ll have much more to share in the weeks and months ahead. If you have any questions about the report, please let me know.

Congratulations to the top 25 companies and the people within these companies that have long championed web globalization.

The 2017 Web Globalization Report Card

Click here to download a PDF brochure for the report.

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

 

Nike improves its global gateway

Nike made an important improvement to its global gateway over the past year that I want to draw your attention to.

First, let’s take a look at the home page, circa 2015:

nike_com_2015

If you look closely at the bottom of the web page, to the left, you’ll see the American flag — the link to the global gateway menu.

Clearly, this is not the most visible location for a global gateway. Footers are for legalese and other garbage — not for your most important global navigation interface.

Fortunately, Nike has since promoted the gateway link to the header, as shown here today:

nike_2016

As the flag itself, I recommend using a globe icon instead, alongside the locale name.

But progress is progress and the promotion of the global gateway into the header is one reason why Nike made it into the top 25 best global websites.

For more information, check out the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card.

Deloitte: The best global professional services website of 2016

For the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card, we studied five professional services websites:

  • Accenture
  • Capgemini
  • Deloitte
  • Ernst & Young
  • KPMG
  • PWC

This is the first year in some time that none of the professional services websites made it into the top 25. This is largely due to the fact that these sites offer poor or uneven support for mobile devices, and a number of global gateways are poorly implemented.

That said, Deloitte emerged on top overall. While KPMG leads with 37 languages, Deloitte supports an impressive 34 languages overall.

Deloitte recently launched a new design, which is both responsive and globally consistent, as shown below with Australia and Russia:

deloitte_au

deloitte_ru

 

Notice the globe icon for the global gateway in the upper right corner. This is a relatively new — and positive — addition. To see how it improves usability (if you don’t speak Chinese) try finding the global gateway on the China home page below.

deloitte_cn

Clicking on this icon brings up this gateway:

Screen Shot 2016-09-11 at 11.46.46 AM

This gateway still needs a bit of work. A lengthy pull-down menu is not advisable. An overlay that displays all options is preferable so users in, say, the United Kingdom are saved the quite lengthy bit of scrolling.

Also worth noting is Deloitte’s emphasis on “trending content” on the home page — a great way to engage visitors and encourage repeat visits.

Now let’s take a look at Capgemini, which is notable for its embrace of social networking and local content. Here is an excerpt from the German home page:

capgemini_de

Capgemini still needs to do more work on its gateway. It’s located in the footer and, as shown here, is hidden behind the cookies notification menu. Do not make this mistake with your website!

capgemini_de_gateway

To learn more, check out the 2016 Web Globalization Report Card.