Without web localization, you’re just guessing

An interesting article by Alexandra Berzon of the WSJ regarding Hilton and Starwood hotels, which are offering menus and services tailored to Chinese travelers. This quote jumped out at me:

After Starwood executives noticed an enormous recent jump in the number of Chinese subscribing to Starwood’s loyalty program, a team led by Matt Gaghen, Starwood’s vice president of brand management, spent the last year researching the Chinese market and discovered that language and food were two of the most important issues for Chinese travelers.

In order for Starwood to notice the sudden increase in Chinese subscribers, it needed to first have a localized Chinese web site — and sign-up form. Fortunately, Starwood launched its Chinese-language web site a little more than two years ago.

I mention this because Starwood could have only collected valid user data AFTER it offered a localized web site.

Web localization isn’t just about direct sales. It’s about lead generation. And it’s about learning what your customers — and future customers  — want.

Without a localized web site, you’re just guessing.

Starwood and Hilton aren’t the only hotel properties to have invested in Chinese web localization. Accor Hotels (which also supports Chinese) won the hotels category in the 2011 Report Card.

PS: I’ll have more to report on hotels (and airlines) and web localization in the weeks ahead. Stay tuned!


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