How to streamline translation across your property portfolio

Kate Fitzgerald is director of account management at Smartling, a cloud-based translation technology and services company. She and her team oversee localization strategy for the company’s 400+ customers in travel, hospitality, B2B software, healthcare, ecommerce and more.

Kate Fitzgerald

Kate Fitzgerald

Kate Fitzgerald

Kate Fitzgerald

Kate Fitzgerald is director of account management at Smartling, a cloud-based translation technology and services company. She and her team oversee localization strategy for the company’s 400+ customers in travel, hospitality, B2B software, healthcare, ecommerce and more.


n the hospitality industry, a great experience is key to ensuring guests’ loyalty. As part of the travel business, there’s an expectation that your company will cater to the needs of global travelers, and part of this means making content available in multiple languages.

Streamlining the translation process by improving workflows, automating the process and using analytics is critical to operating as efficiently as possible. For example, organizations with a global guest footprint must manage thousands of individual hotel websites in dozens of languages, so optimizing the process is vital.

As companies seek to expand their international customer base in an increasingly competitive market, it’s critical to streamline the translation process to best serve your direct channels of guest engagement.

Introduce automation

In today’s world, automation in translation is imperative. I’m not referring to the use of machine translation. I’m thinking about the entirety of the consumer journey for a hospitality brand: the marketing website, the booking engine and the transactional emails … the list goes on.

Exchanging this content with translators without automation is simply not scalable. Copying and pasting strings from a content management system into a spreadsheet, manually sending and retrieving content, merging code, taking and sending screenshots to translators all adds precious time to the process and introduces significant risk of human error.

Integrating all of your content repositories with a translation management system is the foundation for scalability. An integration that automates the exchange of content and visual context is paramount, followed by the various algorithmic-based tools that enable project managers to more easily manage translation without having to click buttons for basic tasks, such as authorizing content that unquestionably requires translation.

Use analytics to improve workflows objectively

When’s the last time you evaluated how much time content spends in each stage of your translation workflow? Have you determined whether each workflow step adds value toward improving translation quality?

traveling icons: plane, luggage, glasses, tickets

Inefficiencies in the process result in higher costs and delayed time-to-market. A data-driven review of the current processes with a critical eye can eliminate sticky cogs slowing down the entire machine.

An analysis of key performance indicators, such as translated words, translation queries, turnaround time and so on, can uncover areas for improvement. One of our hospitality customers recently asked whether or not internally reviewing every translation was a worthwhile expense considering the delay in reaching their customers. After a brief analysis of their translation data, we uncovered that fewer than 4% of translations were receiving edits from internal reviewers. It was immediately clear that this customer could make changes to their translation workflow, which contributed to this hotel chain reducing its translation investment by millions of dollars. They were also able to reach international customers more quickly than ever before, a key competitive advantage.

Where should companies leverage machine translation?

Determine what types of content are high-priority and require a human touch and which are more efficiently addressed with machine translation. High priority critical content — for example, your website’s landing page — requires the expertise of a human translator.

However, if the content is made up of simple, repetitive text or if the content is on a rarely visited page of your website, machine translation is the way to go. Ultimately, the most successful translation programs include a combination of both human and machine input.

The strategy depends on the unique complexities and priorities of each individual business and project. Ultimately, the decision to use machine translation is related to 1) how high-profile or important the content is, 2) your budget parameters and 3) how easy is to make changes to the content once it’s live. For example, you can’t really get an email back for rewrites after sending it.

Centralize the translation process

Although you’re trying to speak to users across the globe, centralization is the key to keeping everyone on the same page within the translation workflow.

Failure to centralize the translation process can lead to duplication of efforts, missed goals, inconsistent translations and mixed messages or tone, and failure to see the bigger picture of the market. You may be able to avoid chaos in your workflow by running your process through a translation management platform acting as a traffic control center, providing a cross-organizational view of all translation projects.

Capitalize on content that’s already been translated

Why reinvent the wheel? Leverage similar content that lives across your enterprise. For example, you’ve already translated a landing page: perhaps the content was repurposed for use in a banner ad or a campaign email. Ensure your company doesn’t pay to retranslate the same content.

By centralizing content and leveraging similar messaging, you’ll avoid duplication, witness significant savings and recover lost time on translation management, while also maintaining brand tone and voice across platforms.

Hospitality companies that streamline their translation process and take a data-driven approach to translation reach their guests and drive loyalty across multiple languages quickly. With the right process and technology in place, expansion into new markets and languages isn’t an intimidating task; it can be approached and managed efficiently and effectively.