Friday 26 February 2016

Hotels - just how many negative reviews are generated by your website?

By definition (we apologise for stating the obvious here) hotels cater for foreign guests. In other words: people who may not speak English, or certainly not as their first language. But just how many misunderstandings lead to complaints (and then to negative reviews)? Could many (most?) be prevented by having accurate foreign language translations on your websites.


By accurate, we mean 'accurate for a native speaker of [insert language here]'. It would appear that many, many hotels (and restaurants) are content for their web designers to contract out their translation service to unqualified third-parties. Some of whom must be using some very basic translation software (or employing people with C grade GCSEs in the language in question). 

Are we exaggerating?

  Item 4 is sure to be popular

The following are real examples - all taken from hotel websites (and our French native speaker did not have to look far):

"All the walls are covered in tissues" - when we think they really meant "all rooms are wallpapered"

"Wooden pavements" - wood flooring?

"Wifi is graceful" ???

The all-time first prize goes to the hotel which offers a 50% discount "if you book in with a goat" (we assume they meant they have a discount for children).

Be careful of words like 'bathroom' - even in English this can be misinterpreted as 'the room has a bath' when, in fact, the hotel meant 'a shower' (and vice versa).

But, joking aside, do London hotels want European, South American or Far Eastern guests at all?

The answer... very simple. In the UK, especially in London, but also in many other centres, we have thriving foreign language schools. We also have people living and working in the UK from every conceivable country in the world, speaking every language known to man. So get someone who speaks the language to check your website, not someone who claims to be fluent, but someone who is!

Well done Corinthia - and just maybe this has some bearing on the quality of their reviews?

Alternatively: you can do what at least a third of the top 100 hotels in London currently do: nothing at all! They don't even offer any foreign language translations on their websites.

A final note for hotels with restaurants (and free-standing restaurants themselves): how many languages is your menu translated into? Are those translations accurate? - we don't want to be misleading those with peanut of shellfish allergies now, do we? How would you like it if you went to a restaurant abroad and you could not understand the menu?

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