Given the current trends in tourism, it is expected that 2015 will be a record-breaking year in terms of total foreign visitors entering the United States. It is estimated that about 75 million individuals will enter the United States by land, air, and sea, with recreational or tourism activities as their main reported activity.
When it comes to pre-travel research, there is a notable trend, whereby a large number of the searches conducted through IPs outside the United States are entered using English as the primary search language. Given this trend, it is imperative that marketers remain cognizant of linguistic nuances that may impact the user experience of foreign shoppers. Effectively catering to international consumers through all marketing channels may mean the difference between a good revenue year and a record-breaking year.
A large majority of the pre-travel research is likely to land on popular review sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp, making the way you manage your review site content imperative to the effective outreach and acquisition of foreign English-based business leads.
Let’s go through a few basic considerations that will equip you to best handle a diverse audience, both in the way you interpret feedback and the manner by which you draft your review responses.
Understand Cultural and Linguistic Differences Among English-Speaking Countries
Having an understanding of the way people say things is essential at every stage of the marketing cycle. A potential customer or past customer that failed to understand your offering is likely to be dissatisfied with his or her transaction, or unwilling to patronage your business due to lack of sufficient information to make a proper purchasing decision.
For example, when we think about meal plans in the context of hotels in the United States, we would refer to three meals as an all-inclusive package, whereby Europeans use the term “American Plan” for the same type of hotel pricing structure. Similarly, a hotel with no meals would need to have the descriptor of “European Plan,” to provide further clarity to the shopper. We constantly identify negative reviews where a European English speaker expresses dissatisfaction with the pricing structure and what he or she received, not because the hotel failed to state its terms properly, but due to a lack of understanding of what the hotel is offering. In a similar fashion, many American customers traveling to Europe find that a double-bed accommodation in Europe is not comprised of two queen-sized beds. Rather, the room configuration is made up of two twin beds, resulting in frequent customer complaints, both on location and on review sites.
Understanding the cultural and linguistic differences will equip you to respond compassionately, and provide review responses that give future shoppers insights as to what your property truly offers. You would do well to spend time becoming familiar with the terminology most commonly used by English and non-English speakers alike, especially if your property or venue depends on foreign tourism. Details such as familiarity with the metric system of measurements might prove useful in creating responses that will be well-accepted by foreign English-speaking shoppers.
Design Landing Content that Provides Clarity Through Multimedia
When it comes to delivering a message to a global audience, a picture does indeed speak a thousand words. Make sure your review profiles, social profiles, and site are saturated with photos and videos that further clarify concepts and ideas that may get lost in translation. Pay particular attention to the photos and videos loaded to your TripAdvisor page, as they feed not only to your English-based profile but also to all of your global foreign-language profile.
Be Detail-Oriented in Product and Service Descriptions to Ensure Customer Expectations Are Met
When it comes to writing responses to English-speaking reviewers and shoppers around the world, more is definitely more. Take the time to provide content-rich responses that tackle their experiential concerns, with the idea that your response is serving as a guide for future guests and customers.
By suggesting that you expand on how you respond to your reviews, we are not saying that you use complicated language. We are asking, instead, that you learn to paint a picture with words that can be understood by everyone, everywhere.
Respond in the Context of the Reviewer’s Culture
Engaging with a global audience demands that you move away from ethnocentricity. Take time to understand cultural context, and draft your responses appropriately. If the culture is heavier on etiquette, then by all means, use it.
In a similar vein, if the reviewer has written a review in a more casual tone, then align your response to his or her tone while remaining respectful and professional. Looking at the user profile is likely to give you clues regarding the person’s locality, and equip you to deliver a response that takes into account cultural context.
Refrain from Colloquialism and Local References When Drafting a Response
While you still have the responsibility to be the expert on your locality, you may want to be sensitive with how you respond to a reviewer. Using colloquialism diminishes your message by making it inaccessible to a global readership. When responding to all of your reviews, seek to use neutral, simple, and professional language that conveys across languages and cultures. The only exception is the incorporation of words intended to provide clarity to the reviewer, by using terms that make sense in their context.
Use Your Response to Leave SEO Breadcrumbs for Foreign English-Based Searches
Take advantage of your review responses as an opportunity to leave SEO breadcrumbs for searches conducted from countries outside the United States. To achieve this, some of your descriptors should help provide clarity to foreign shoppers, and include words that they are likely to use when conducting an English search for services and products such as yours.
By adopting a global perspective to reputation management, you can expand your marketing reach with little or no investment. If you are a hotel, restaurant, or attraction in a tourist-heavy market, then this might be a great move to take your lead generation to the next level.