The hospitality industry is embracing Web globalization in a big way these days, and that’s a very good thing, because the world is relying on the Web to book hotel rooms and flights like never before.
Here’s a press release from Best Western announcing a major boost in their global Internet presence. According to the release, “100% of the company’s online hotel and booking information is now available in French, German, Italian and International Spanish. Additionally, all Asian hotel property listings and reservations web pages are available in simplified Chinese, Japanese and Korean.”
(NOTE: I always cringe when I see the term “international Spanish” used in a press release; it’s like saying “International English.”)
So here are the interesting details from the press release:
- Internet bookings comprise 44 percent of all Best Western reservations. “The Internet is our fastest growing distribution channel,” said Ric Leutwyler, senior vice president of brand management and member service.
- Best Western’s global Internet bookings have grown an average of 54 percent per year over the past five years.
- The Web globalization project lasted eight months and consisted of the translation of more than 4.2 million words.
- Globalization vendor SDL managed the project. SDL is included in our 2005 Savvy Client’s Guide to Translation Agencies.
- On-going translation requirements are estimated at 10,000 new words per week; a continual process that will be managed by SDLWorkFlow.
- Best Western made use of SDL’s machine translation engine to help keep translation costs to a minimum.
So how good is the Best Western site?
In our 2005 Web Globalization Report Card we evaluated 14 Web sites in the hospitality/travel industry; unfortunately, Best Western was not one of the sites evaluated.
So I took a brief global tour of the country Web sites and was happy to see them all using a generally consistent global template. I would have liked to have seen a better global gateway on the .com home page. The “Global Web Sites” button, shown below, is not the best way to direct non-English-speaking users to their Web sites:
Overall, I’d say Best Western is doing better than average, and certainly better than the likes of the Four Seasons and Omni Hotels. And as the world’s largest hotel chain, Best Western is signaling to the industry that Web globalization has migrated from luxury to necessity.