Picture this: some clients have come over on a business trip and you decide to take them to a classy restaurant. You’d like to impress them and make them feel at home. However, when you’re presented with the menu, they find some hilarious translation blunders that cause you to blush in embarrassment. Sounds familiar? When we say a restaurant, it could equally have been in the airport, the tourist information office, the hotel reception, or in the railway station.
A major (but funny) blunder committed in an Austrian hotel’s brochure was “Running water is flowing through all the bedrooms”. Before visitors even stepped over the threshold, they’re imagined how they had their own personal ‘swimming pool’, when what the hotel really meant to say there is hot and cold running water in all the rooms. Another Swiss restaurant menu stated “Our wines leave you nothing to hope for”, in an attempt to say “We only serve quality wines”. Not only does it make many English-speakers burst into laughter, but question whether the restaurant was a serious affair at all. Just think what it would be like if patrons decided to end their life after trying the wine list!
Nevertheless, why should a correct translation make a difference to your establishment’s brand image? As Nelson Mandela says,
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart”.
Particularly when you are travelling abroad, you closely identify with and appreciate any information provided in your native language, as it makes you feel at home no matter where you are.
The foreignness of being in another country is thus a little less ‘foreign’.
So the truth is a professional translation really matters for your brand image. An effective linguistic approach not only takes into account all the cultural implications, but helps you to achieve a more desirable impact, letting you establish that all too valuable connection with your target audience.
So getting back to the point, how does this affect Spain and Spanish tourism? In 2014, Spain was the top tourist destination in the EU for foreigners. Foreign visitors spent 260 million nights in tourist accommodation establishments, according to the European Commission Eurostat. But we’re not talking just about Europe. Spain is also a major destination in worldwide terms. Naturally, these figures point to a key business opportunity in our country that we need to take advantage of.
Just imagine the impact a well-designed linguistic strategy which enables you to connect with Spain’s top visitors in their mother tongue could have.
However, we shouldn’t lose sight of another relevant fact, and this is what I actually call the new perspective on tourism.
Not only is Spain a world-class destination, but it also represents a major outbound travel market. It currently ranks in sixth position in terms of outbound tourism in Europe. In fact, Spain holds a prime spot among the top 10 European countries in terms of outbound travel. This position is far from being insignificant; the opportunities for European businesses interested in leveraging the potential of this outbound tourism segment are huge. Although the large native Spanish-speaking population, in other words, 47 million people, may understand some English, it is more likely that they will identify better with communications in their own language, so it gives you the ideal opportunity to build a stronger and more valuable relationship with them.
Take advantage of this opportunity, captivate and make the Spanish visitors feel at home with an impressive linguistic strategy.
This scenario can also be extended to tourism-related companies situated far beyond the borders of Europe, such as the United States, South Africa, Japan, etc. The influx of the Spanish-speaking visitors (and Spanish-speakers from Latin America could also be included in that segment) to these locations around the world holds a fantastic earning potential.
Your potential revenue will be notably increased when an effective linguistic strategy is implemented.
In conclusion, Spanish-language tourism market has a fantastic potential for generating revenue. Investing in quality translations for inbound and outbound tourism flows definitely pays off in the long run.
(Source: Data from November 2015. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Tourism_statistics)