EVENTS

Total Event Globalization
An E2E language experience

By Viviana Bernabe and Aki Hayashi

Global events and consistent, end-to-end language experiences go hand in hand. One component lets you maximize reach through events, while the other ensures you provide an outstanding and impactful experience to your audience.

But what is the state of event globalization? What’s the role of an end-to-end language experience, and how does one do it right?

The state of event globalization

Event globalization isn’t a new concept. Sports events, for example, have been broadcast live to global audiences for decades. The same can be said for televised concerts, political conferences, pageants, and similar events that get worldwide coverage and attention.

Consequently, one might ask: What makes the modern event globalization industry different?

One word: accessibility.

Companies no longer need a sizeable budget and tremendous planning to host globalized events. From conferencing apps to social media streaming services, you can find everything you need to launch global events online.

Data from Statista predicts that the global event industry will balloon to over $2 trillion by 2028. This includes festivals, music concerts, seminars, corporate events, and more.

For companies, breaking the distance barrier supercharges brand awareness, widens sponsorship opportunities, and maximizes event return-on-investment (ROI). With modern planning tools and techniques, event professionals can also incorporate new and innovative strategies to engage audiences.

In a 2022 report by Interprefy, 71% of event professionals shared their intent to focus on hybrid events moving forward. Additionally, 80% of these professionals intend to plan multilingual events. However, the impact of globalization on the event industry also has downsides.

For one, successfully managing a global audience takes more than just live interpreting. You need to provide a seamless language experience throughout the entire customer journey.

What role do language services play in globalized events?

To host a successful global event, providing a consistent language experience is crucial. This takes more than just in-event subtitling and interpreting.

Language services must be present in every campaign stage, including pre-event, in-event, and post-event activities and end-user interactions. To do this, language experts need a complete customer journey map that outlines all communication touchpoints, such as an end-to-end language experience.

This case study, featuring Aki Hayashi, senior manager of globalization programs at Dell, emphasized the importance of the end-to-end language experience in global events.

Apart from improving the audience’s experience, end-to-end event globalization also demonstrates the importance of localization impact on stakeholders. This allows decision-makers to double down on their translation efforts and capture the international audience.

Five keys to a successful end-to-end language experience

Thus far, language services do great at keeping up with the global event industry. By matching the proper tools to an existing event tech stack and carrying over existing client and localization knowledge to live events, you can create a smooth end-to-end language experience.

Here are five keys to success that companies should always aspire to remember:

One: Speed is just as important as quality

Quality is paramount in any translation process, and likewise, so is timeliness.
Standard localization work takes time that involves multiple phases and a team of language experts. However, in event globalization, it’s important to consider translation solutions that fit the event’s timeline. That’s especially true of on-demand or replay content needs to be available for audiences in the next time zone.

Two: Plan for languages from the beginning

Prioritizing the end-to-end language experience gives language services and event managers enough time to identify the minimum viable solution to globalization challenges. It should not be an afterthought, especially if you want to maximize the audience’s experience.

Including an existing centralized globalization team is a huge advantage for this objective as this provides event teams with internal subject matter expertise on language inclusivity and continuity of linguistic quality metrics and branding in target languages. It should have sufficient customer knowledge to help define your event globalization requirements.

In addition to event-specific reference material, existing language assets like termbases and brand style guidelines also come in handy when planning a global event. With readily available resources, you can deliver consistency between written content and verbal delivery — for example, interpreting services and live subtitling.

Three: Communicate language access options with your audience

An end-to-end language experience focuses on providing audiences with accessible language options before, during, and after the global event.

If the actual session has multilingual options, non-English viewers need to know about them. More importantly, they need information on how to access those features prior to attending the event.

Being end-to-end means maximizing touch points for a global audience, including instructions on using language options and onsite signage, which must be translated into the audience’s preferred language. Without adequate information on access to language options that are available, event globalization efforts are effectively wasted.

Four: Think about post-event activities

Post-event, audiences need multilingual content that will help them turn information into action.

For example, after learning about a product through a multilingual webinar, the company needs to follow through with translated content that’s optimized for conversions. To maximize the ROI of events, consider translating recorded assets for viewers who couldn’t attend live. This includes audio clips, video recordings, and transcriptions.

Five: Simplify the customer-facing components

Ensure all the backstage complexities don’t result in a confusing end-user experience. Engage with a technical subject matter expert and plan for multiple dry runs, including potential failover solutions.

Before the event, consider running a survey to identify the language preferences of your attendees, including any special accessibility features they might need. This will prevent you from wasting time and funds on unnecessary language features while keeping things simple for the audience. Alternatively, ask the question in the post-event survey to get a head start planning the next.

It also helps to gather your audience’s feedback after the event. Actively ask for suggestions on how you can improve their experience in the future. Additionally, your LSP partner can usually provide attendee reports per language so you can rest assured your funds are being properly allocated to the right markets and/or validate that you are effectively communicating services available to your target market.

Language services at work

To help shape your event globalization strategy, look at some of the strategies language services and event managers use:

Live subtitles and other AI solutions

Live captioning and subtitling are a fast and cost-effective solution to provide multilingual attendees with a better experience. It primarily relies on machine translation (MT) to rapidly generate translations as event speakers take the stage. Incorporating live subtitles in global events is reasonable for tight project timelines. While the ideal use case is for small-scale or internal affairs, such as stakeholder meetings and company culture events, this is also a complimentary add-on to larger events where interpreting is unavailable.

As part of the same organization, minor translation issues will only have a negligible effect on the event’s target audience. Moreover, colleagues are more in sync regarding internal company culture and jargon.

Although live subtitles reliably preserve the message’s essence, native speakers of the target language may notice grammatical irregularities. As such, live captions should be avoided for high-visibility events aimed at an international audience. Otherwise, statements may be misinterpreted, quoted, and spread by local influencers and media players.

CART Captions also provide an easily applicable source of inclusion for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences that should be included as a minimal solution. These can be accessed via monitor displays on site or virtual feeds accessible via mobile app or web browsers for both in-person and virtual audiences.

AI for live events

For event managers, the application of AI in live events can include machine interpreting via text-to-speech of the MT subtitles and/or speech-to-speech tools to provide a consistent language experience as a middle ground between live subtitles and human interpretations. It allows attendees to focus on the presenter’s actions and materials rather than constantly reading text throughout the event. In collaboration with our localization and quality teams, we can also build event-specific term bases to import into these AI tools to increase the output of client-approved localized brand terms and voice. As these tools advance, we’ll likely see future implementation of pronunciation guides and gender-matching and/or voice cloning of speakers to AI voices in target languages.

However, AI translations are still not as accurate as human interpreters. On the flip side, AI translations cost less than human linguists. This allows event organizers to save money on languages that only a small group of attendees speak while getting a temperature check on their future inclusion.

In-person interpreting

In-person interpreting is a traditional and time-tested way to create a more inclusive language experience at global events.

Looking for qualified interpreters is among the most challenging aspects of live-person interpreting. When discussing advanced or technical topics, interpreters need an understanding of the topic to ensure quality.

Naturally, multiple in-person interpreters are needed for events targeted at a linguistically diverse audience. The larger the event, the harder it is to locally source and coordinate multiple live-person interpreters. The biggest obstacle is finding local resources to minimize the need to fly qualified interpreters in, adding to event costs.

It is also important to consider the physical booths and distribution of receivers in a traditional on site setup. Access to line of sight to the stage is increasingly tricky as more languages are included, and many times, booths are setup backstage with the production teams or in another room altogether. This often requires additional monitor setups per booth and/or hybrid setups to ensure the required audio and video feeds are available to the interpreters.

Remote interpreting

Thanks to the global shift to remote interpreting, remote and/or distance interpreters are more flexible, cost-effective, and available than ever. While in-person conference interpreting also requires on-site booths and other personnel, remote simultaneous interpreters don’t need to be in the same room as event presenters. As such, you don’t need a plan for their transportation, accommodation, and other on-site logistics.

We recently had a three-day conference covering up to eight concurrent sessions per time slot resulting in the booking of approximately 130 conference interpreters. This was also an internal-facing event for Dell — just imagine the logistics planning this as an on-site event would require!

Using remote simultaneous interpretation (RSI) platforms, interpreters can connect to an ongoing event and translate speech from anywhere, allowing you to tap into the best interpreters in the world, regardless of location. The target audio is then sent back through the cloud-based RSI platform and heard by attendees. It is important to note that interpreters need to be booked well in advance to allow for proper preparation and a seamless experience. Of course, we can always incorporate a hybrid in-person/remote solution depending on event scope, prep time, and budget.

Multimedia content translations

For an airtight end-to-end language experience, remember to enhance your audience’s experience with multimedia content, including pre-recorded or post-event on-demand content. Language service providers offer various translation services for different media types, such as event recordings, infographics, social media posts, and marketing collaterals. Additionally, with permission from their interpreters, they can repurpose live-produced content, such as live captions and interpreter audio, for on-demand viewers. Live events teams collaborate with internal localization and multimedia teams to post-edit machine-translated content and align captions or recorded audio with video recordings of each session.

Remember, translating multimedia content is the one area in event globalization where you should prioritize quality. Communicate with language service providers for solutions that deliver quality language services on time.

Going beyond captioning and live interpreting

Language access is not an option. It is a must-have component of any event globalization strategy.

Remember, it’s not just about helping non-English-speaking attendees understand what your event speakers say. It’s about crafting an end-to-end experience that will engage, guide, and captivate multilingual audiences from start to finish.

Viviana Bernabe  is the director of global interpretation services at Welocalize.

Aki Hayashi is a senior manager of the globalization program management office at Dell Technologies.

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