Over 600 million international tourists travel through Tennessee every year.  New direct flights have been added to the menu at Nashville International Airport from key European destinations this year, and we have seen year after year of economic growth due in part to an increase in international tourism. In 2015 Nashville was the #1 southern US city for international travelers.But they don’t stay in one spot for long.  Their stays average 8-14 days and trends show they go on to travel all over the state.  In 2016, international travel accounted for nearly 750 million tourism dollars.

Your website is a key indicator of how much you value international tourism dollars.

Do you remember the last time you made an online purchase or reservation from a website that wasn’t in English?  Unless you are fluent in another language, you probably have never spent money online through a website that wasn’t in your native tongue.

If you haven’t done this, and most of the people you know of haven’t done this, then think about the experience international travelers have on your website if English is their only option. Customers seldom purchase products or services from a website where they do not understand the language. For this reason, it is vital to use multilingual solutions to meet the needs of your potential customers.

Here are some benefits of having multiple languages available on your website and some things to think about before you jump into the multilingual world:

Most people prefer to buy in their own language.

A study conducted by Common Sense Advisory found that people with no or low English skills were six times more likely not to buy from English-only sites than their peers who were proficient in English.  In general, people more often than not do not purchase from sites that are in a foreign language (52.4%).

The more expensive the item the more language is a factor.

The same study found that the vast majority (85.3%) of respondents felt that having pre-purchase information in their own language is a critical factor in buying larger ticket items. Furthermore,  having that information available in their language often trumps a lower price.

Making your business more valuable to international tourists helps our area become more valuable to those same tourists.

Major brands such as Disney, Legoland, and Universal see the value of having multilingual options on their sites. The more friendly our area becomes to International travel, the more likely we will have a sustained period of growth in this area. Already, businesses in the attraction and hospitality industries in other countries have increased their catering to English speaking tourists. Check out some of these businesses in Spain that are similar to attractions in our area and that offer multiple languages for their visitors:

The Museum of Chocolate: museuxocolata.cat

 

La Sagrada Família: www.sagradafamilia.cat

 

Limite Zero Zip Lining: www.limitezero.com

You can stand out from the crowd by offering a multilingual website.

Right now less than 1% of tourism-based websites in the Sevier County area are multilingual.  Choosing to go the extra mile for international visitors can set you apart from the crowd and give your business a boost.

Things to think about when adding another language to your site:

Pick the right language.

Do the research before deciding which language(s) to feature on your site.  The data we have right now shows that more people are coming to Tennessee from Germany and China than other English-speaking countries. However, we also have large communities of Spanish-speaking domestic tourists who would be attracted to businesses that cater to Spanish.  If your budget only allows for one language to start with, make sure it will have the largest impact and then add other languages as you grow.

Offer multiple currencies.

If you sell products, services, or reservations online, it’s a good idea to offer the prices in foreign currencies as well. Your customers won’t be left having to do the conversion math in their head, and it also goes the extra mile to show them that you want their business.

Don’t use an automatic translator.

Language has a lot of nuances and you don’t want to be the business that becomes a case in point for the communication blunders that automated translators (like Google) can make.  Use someone who is fluent in both English and the language you are targeting to give a more accurate and nuanced translation.  The great news is that you don’t have to break the bank to get a good translation.  Services start at $.10 per word for translations online.

Use a CMS that has a proven track record for multilingual sites.

We recommend using WordPress and WPML to setup and manage multilingual sites.  We have created several multilingual sites with this combination and love it.  Not only does it make it easy to update new and existing content with the new language, but it also has some basic SEO features and makes it easy to find translators online. Using a CMS also puts control in your hands and you don’t have to rely on (or pay!) a web designer to update the content for you.

Make sure Google recognizes your new multilingual content.

There are many factors to consider for your search engine optimization when adding multiple languages to your site.  If it is done correctly then you will actually get a boost in your rankings internationally.  However, if they are done haphazardly you can jeopardize your domestic rankings as well.

Do you use flags or words?

Give people a clear option for what languages you have to offer.  Some countries have multiple languages so using flags isn’t always a great option.  Using the language names is usually the best way to go. Make the user interface for switching languages clear and easy to find.

Translate your metadata.

Don’t just translate the content that appears on your site, but make sure your meta data is translated as well so that your search engine results are served in the appropriate language. This includes the title and meta description.

There are many clear benefits to offering multiple languages on your site.  There are also many variables that can make it a great or horrible experience for you and your visitors.  If you are interested in reaching international tourists more effectively give us a call to schedule a free consultation.  You don’t have to be a Walt Disney World or Six Flags to have a multilingual site.  We can work with all budgets to find a solution for you.